One of the biggest things about this lockout that makes me mad is the fact that undrafted rookies are not able to be signed. Sure, there are not many that make a huge impact, but the Rams have had some players that stuck with the team as of late.
Luckily, we still have eight rookies that we can take a look at. How do they stack up in their position? Can they make an immediate impact? Will they see playing time? Well, hit the jump and let's find out!
Robert Quinn, DE
Duh, Winning. I don't think there is a reason any of us can come up with as to why he wouldn't see the field. He was one of the top pass rushing talents in the league. Chris Long is definitely the type of player who would benefit greatly from help on the other side, as we saw this year with the resurgence of James Hall. Given the fact that Hall is as old as he is, a good rotation could do wonders for this defensive line later in the season. He is without a doubt a day one guy, if not as starter.
Lance Kendricks, TE
I think the Rams are expected big things from him, and hopefully he can produce. He seems like he has the talent to fit in the offense, but us Rams fans know that talent does not always equal results. Still, with only Fells and Onobun behind (or with) him as the 'athletic' tight ends the Rams have, you have to imagine he'd at least get a shot to play from the start. Fells inconsistency and Onobun's lack of actually playing football will probably factor into the decision.
Austin Pettis and Greg Salas, WR
What a carousel the wide receivers have become. With about 142 receivers on the roster already, it's going to be tough for virtually everyone to make their mark on the team. Pettis and Salas could be great picks, giving Sam the weapons he lacked last year. Pettis looks like he could be a good possession guy, and Salas looked like a tank at times for Hawaii, taking two or three guys just take him down. On the other hand, Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton could come back from injuries and sideline the both of them. Don't forget Danario Alexander or Danny Amendola as potential players, and also Brandon Gibson and Laurent Robinson, who for some reason have been given yet more chances to show the team and fans something...we're still waiting guys.
Jermale Hines, S
Hines seems more like a linebacker in the NFL, which is good because the Rams outside linebackers had a pretty rough year in 2010. Like I mentioned in a post I made about how Steve Spagnuolo possibly views OLB's, the system is the real triumph for the defense. Spags prefers a physical secondary and the fact that Hines is more of a physical, in the box type safety is a boon for the team. He isn't polished, but holds potential. The Rams had some injuries and some shuffling with both the secondary and linebackers last year, so he may see some time on the field with the defensive unit, but I think he will mostly be helping on special teams where he can also contribute with his physicality until he's at a place where the coaching staff feels comfortable with him rotating in on the defense.
Mikael Baker, CB
Baker is a speedster, plain and simple. Corner isn't the easiest position to ease into in the NFL, but with the Rams injury problems and benchings (BFB for Dockery?) he may see the field on the defense, just like Hines. A lot of people believe he will help on special teams, where his speed will be his biggest asset. I agree. I'd like to see him return some kicks for the team, where he can utilize his insane speed the best. Danny Amendola might be a little busier this year with McDaniels offense. It doesn't seem possible, but I think he CAN in fact be worn down. Baker could be a good depth guy to have on the team, like Chris Chamberlain.
Jabara Williams, LB
Looking back again at that past post, Ed over at Big Blue View said that the Giants prefer fast linebackers, and that is exactly what Williams is. His speed could also contribute to special teams, which could be a real strength for the Rams this year. A prospect pick, like most lower round selections, he has the athleticism to make plays.
Jonathan Nelson, S
Am I preaching to the choir at this point? Nelson remind me of Craig Dahl when I read about him, but more a little more athletic. He isn't the biggest guy, but he's tough and he loves to hit, hard. Given Dahl's emergence, Nelson could gain a lot under the tutelage of Spagnuolo and Flajole. He definitely could help out on special teams, which appears to be as big of a winner as the offense in the draft. With so many holes to fill, the Rams certainly decided to make the most out of the players they picked. Special teams is somewhat of a lost art; most people just think of Devin Hester or Leon Washington (gasp) returning punts or kickoffs, but it is a lot more then that. Holding the opponent to a long field or keeping a return to a minimum can be invaluable late in the game.
That's all the picks the Rams made. Hopefully one day we can see what free agents (both veterans and rookies) the Rams might be interested in to help bolster the team. Hopefully.