Response to Rams Draft Critics:


It seems that a considerable amount of Rams nation is up in arms about our teams performance in this weekend’s 2011 NFL Draft. We already have people calling for the heads of our Front Office, a group who has unarguably turned around our franchise from a perennial stink show, to an undeniably up-and-coming team with a promising future. While I admit, that I too had a pre draft fantasies of Sam Bradford throwing to Julio Jones, the price proved to be way too much. These are my thoughts and expectations for the 2011 NFL Draft.

Round 1: Immediate Impact Players

Robert Quinn – This pick was purely a Best Player Available selection. Quinn is unarguably the most physically gifted Pass-Rusher in this class and gives our Defense a serious upgrade in its ability to pressure Quarterbacks, an area which was inconsistent for us all year. If he were given another season to add on to his football resume, there is little doubt that he would have been in consideration for the #1 overall pick. Quinn draws comparisons to Julius Peppers and Dwight Freeney out of college. This was a great pick! No questions asked. Grade: A

Round 2: Starting Caliber Players

Lance Kendricks – This pick initially was a shock to most of Rams nation considering that we drafted two Tight Ends in the previous year. Pat Shumur, not Josh McDaniels, selected those Tight Ends however. It is clear that Kendricks is very talented and was a Top 2 prospect at that position in this year’s draft. He is compared favorably in most scouting reports to Aaron Hernandez. Kendricks will instantly provide a mismatch player for defenses to take into consideration and a safety valve for Sam. Look for Kendricks and Hoomanawanui to be used similarly to the way that McDaniels used Ben Watson and Daniel Graham in New England. Grade: B (Only Because I personally wanted Defensive Tackle Terrell McClain)

Rounds 3 and 4: Potential Starters and Impact Players

Austin Pettis – It seems that Rams Nation hates Austin Pettis. Why? Pettis, a four-year starter at Boise State, was one of the most consistently productive receivers in the nation. He has sure hands and is incredibly intelligent from what I have heard in scouting reports. This guy provides a substantial upgrade as a RedZone option for Sam. Pettis turned in a 4.61 40-yard dash time which people call slow and not explosive. I guess Anquan Boldin is a real scrub considering his 4.72 40 time…Pettis’ 39 TOUCHDOWNS in college say that he is capable of being an effective Wide Receiver. Grade: B

Greg Salas – This pick seemed to be a little bit overkill to me with so many other positions to upgrade. However, Spagnuolo and Devaney’s board seemed to have Salas as a higher rated prospect than players at the other positions and I trust they did their homework. Similar to Pettis, Salas is an incredibly productive Wide Receiver. During the 2010 NCAA season, Salas racked up 1889 Receiving Yards and led the nation in that category (#2 was Justin Blackmon). This guy is a playmaker with similar attributes to Pettis but slightly faster. Think of Pettis and Salas as the Rams buying bust insurance on each prospect. Grade: B-

Rounds 5, 6, and 7: Developmental Players / Special Teamers

Jermalle Hines, Mikail Baker, Jabara Williams, and Jonathan Nelson

To reiterate my point in other posts, it is VERY RARE for teams to find starters in the later rounds of the NFL draft. To expect that Devaney and Spags find game breakers in these rounds is ridiculous to say the least…

The most intriguing picks of this bunch are Jermalle Hines and Jonathan Nelson: Two extremely versatile defensive backs from powerhouse NCAA programs in Oklahoma and Ohio State. If you watch the game film on these guys, they play very similar to the way Bradley Fletcher and Jerome Murphy do: Exceptional Athletes who are very physical players. Although these prospects are obviously not refined, Spagnuolo is a great defensive back evaluator. People often do not realize that Spagnuolo coached defensive backs in Philadelphia under Jim Johnson and is credited by Lito Sheppard and Brian Dawkins as instrumental in their development as players. Spagnuolo knows something about these guys that he likes…

Jabara Williams and Mikail Baker both will likely be special teamers. Baker is an exceptionally fast prospect that seems to be a return extraordinaire. Baker was well liked by Rams Special Teams coach Tom McMahon enough to land him a roster spot. Jabara Williams is a versatile and exceptional athlete. His biggest weaknesses are his size and experience against quality competition. With time in the weight room and development on the practice squad, Jabara has potential to develop into a quality WLB. Grade: N/A (Think of these picks as Minor Leaguers in Baseball who will be groomed for Major League play)

In Conclusion…

The Rams got better this weekend. Critics can cry about needs at Wide Receiver, Defensive Tackle, and Outside Linebacker but the Rams have adopted a no-compromise approach to adding the best available players that fit their scheme. The BPA approach will in turn be the best thing for our team. Bill Polian, GM for the Colts, took a ton of heat for drafting Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark in back to back drafts instead of drafting for defensive needs. How did that work out? The Texans fan base called for serious change when their Front Office selected Mario Williams instead of, soon to be free agent, Reggie Bush. Teams put together their Big Board based on the Best Players Available for their Respective System. I trust that the players we took this year will be able to make the most positive possible impact for our team, considering our picks and the players available at the time. Only time will tell….But for now,

Overall Draft Grade: B+