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Talking With Thomas

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch does a weekly chat where he fields and answers as many questions as he can about the Rams.

Joe Robbins

This weeks chat with Jim Thomas offered Rams fans some interesting talking points as we quickly approach free agency and the draft.

Kenny Vaccaro has been a hot name linked to the Rams all off-season due to their need to replace Craig Dahl. Jim was asked a question about all of the hype surrounding Vaccaro.

"I don't think there's much buzz about him here at Rams Park. My whole thing about Vaccaro is, if he's so good in space as a free safety, how come he had only 5 INTs during his entire college career in the pass-happy Big 12? Unless something happens in free agency with the Rams at another position, I really don't think the Rams go safety in free agency."

The more I read about Vaccaro, the more of a rigid dichotomy I see. Pro Kenny Vaccaro pundits believe that Vaccaro possesses the ability to be versatile in a passing league where cover safeties are a growing commodity. While the opposing side doesn't see Vaccaro possessing the coverage abilities being advertised. Mr. Thomas seems to fall into the "let's not draft Kenny Vaccaro" camp.

The idea of the Rams taking an offensive tackle in the first round came up a few times during the chat. His answers included:

"They're looking for a right tackle."

"I would be surprised if the Rams weren't at least discussing Jake Long internally. The question on him is how much football does he have left _ is his best football behind him? And how much money does he want? If you're spending $8-10 million a year on him _ that's a gamble."

"Your right, Watson's numbers weren't overly impressive at the Combine. I believe the Rams still have interest."

"I just don't buy the old axiom that you don't use a first-round pick for a right tackle. There are a lot of good pass rushers who line up over right tackles these days in the NFL. Chris Long being one. If you think a guy like Fluker would be a very good NFL right tackle, why not take him. Especially under the new CBA and especially drafting in the lower half of the first round, it's cheap labor for several years."

"I think just about everyone feels that Joeckel and Fisher will be long gone by the time the Rams pick. And that could very ell be the case with Lane Johnson as well. So the Rams may be down to Fluker or Melenik Watson as their first-round options at OT."

It comes as no surprise that the Rams are looking for a right tackle after laboring through a season with Wayne Hunter and Barry Richardson holding down the fort. Melenik Watson is a name that keeps coming up. I will have more on him later in the week. As for D.J. Fluker, I see him a lot like I see Kenny Vaccaro. Both are cause for heated debate among draft junkies.

Tavon Austin's name came up a few times as well.

"No one's inviting me into the meeting rooms at Rams Park, but I do think the Rams like his potential to be an explosive player on the NFL level."

And when asked about about how he would feel if the Rams went Austin at #16, Fluker at #22, and then safety in the 2nd, Jim responded favorably.

"Sounds like a pretty good plan to me. There's been a lot of buzz about Cyprien, and I know wonder if he'll last to where the Rams pick in the second round."

Sounds like we can add another member to the Tavon Austin bandwagon. Hop on people, it's getting full!

The last nugget Jim left us with was golden. Jim was asked about previous Tennessee wideout Da'Rick Rogers and the possibility of the Ram drafting him.

"Les Snead just happened to walk by _ seriously _ and I asked him your question. He said: "We've got a guy on the roster of that genre." (He was referring to Brian Quick.) Got to go."

This quote has the possibility of endless conjecture. Does this mean the Rams won't take a bigger wideout in the draft because they already have "a guy on the roster of that genre?" Does it mean they will take a wideout thats smaller and quicker to fill the possible void left by Danny Amendola……perhaps someone who's initials would be one letter away from DA?

One thing is for certain - this off-season will be filled with surprises and excitement.