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St. Louis Rams: Graded 2015 Off-Season Review

With free agency and the draft now in the rear view mirror, the Rams are almost ready to get back to work. With rookie mini-camp and OTA's getting set to start, let's have a look at how the Rams graded out this off-season...

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The Rams traded Sam Bradford to the Eagles in a move that shook the NFL world for weeks. If nothing else, it was certainly the splash that was needed to - even if for a brief moment - remove so much attention from the team's possible relocation, and put it more on the team's roster and upcoming season. Bradford and the Rams fifth round pick was traded for Eagles starter Nick Foles, a 2015 fourth and 2016 second round pick. This trade is something I have had a hard time dealing with, as I have never been a big believer in Foles. If this trade was straight up, and players only, Philly would have won, as I believe a healthy Bradford will flourish in Chip Kelly's system better than Foles ever did. But to get a fourth and second round pick in return puts this trade more in favor of the Rams. TRADE GRADE: B

After the acquisition of Nick Foles the Rams were not done. They then added Case Keenum in a trade with the Texans. The Rams gave up a seventh round pick for him. Keenum, of course, was on the Rams roster as recently as four months ago. This move was a bit of a head scratch-er. Why trade for a player that you let go, and after the addition of Brian Hoyer and the resigning of Ryan Mallett, was likely to be released by the Texans soon anyway? Add in the fact that Keenum isn't really likely to beat out Austin Davis for the final QB spot - as Davis is far more familiar with the system and players - and this move was one of the worst moves this regime has made. However, I do like that they were willing to add more competition to this group, being far more aggressive than in the past. TRADE GRADE: D

During the draft the Rams were able to drum up some interest in their second round pick. The team traded all the way down from pick 41 to 57 with the Panthers. The Rams also received a third and sixth round choice in the deal. This was genius, as it a took the Rams from having only six picks in the draft to eight. This was a great start to day two. TRADE GRADE: A

Also during the draft the Rams traded Zac Stacy per his request. The trade was on extremely short notice, so just to get any interest at all is impressive. Jeff Fisher confirmed that they spoke with "multiple teams" before moving forward with the Jets. Sounds like they spoke with Stacy prior to pulling the trigger with anyone, although to me I think that those multiple teams Fisher referred to were likely only doing their due diligence and not seriously inquiring. Stacy was traded to the Jets for a seventh round pick. TRADE GRADE: B-



The Rams re-signed both Kenny Britt and Lance Kendricks. They were able to to sign Britt to a relatively team friendly deal, which has a total value of $14 million over two years, but is likely to only cost the Rams $9 million and some change. Meanwhile, Atlanta appeared as a likely landing spot for Lance Kendricks once the free agency period got underway. They had a huge need at tight end, and were offering more money. Yet, the team was able to get Kendricks back for less money and no guarantee of a starting role. That's no easy task.

Next, the Rams attacked what Jeff Fisher called their top two targets of free agency. Those two targets turned out to be Akeem Ayers and Nick Fairley. The Ayers addition was actually the most exciting for me personally, as I believe he is an extremely versatile player that can both cover tight ends and blitz the quarterback. With that being said, Fairley is certainly not being over looked by any stretch of the imagination. Adding a fifth first round pick to the front line is unheard of. If Fairley can remain in shape and motivated, this unit will pick up where they left off and then some.

The team also managed to bring back a couple of restricted free agents that played some pretty big roles on the team last year. The Rams resigned Rodney McLeod, Austin Davis, and Cory Harkey to tenders. This was key as the team managed to keep both starters and depth in tact. The return of so many starters and rotational players is a rarity, as they did a good job in free agency re-signing their own, and even bringing in a few extra pieces.



The Rams selected Todd Gurley at number 10 overall, shocking a lot of people and causing quite the stir, though no one should really be surprised by the decision. I even joked around a few times in comments saying it wouldn't shock me if they ultimately made the pick. I know a few faithful TST'ers out there even said they wanted the pick to happen weeks ago. My initial reaction was: What the hell are you doing? But I was thinking solely as a fan and not looking at the big picture. Twenty minutes later, I calmed down and went back to my scouting notes. My immediate reaction was "awww yeaaaaa, he's arguably the best player in the draft". The simple truth is a healthy Gurley would have been a top three pick and could realistically have gone one or two. But, the keyword is healthy. You don't take a back coming off a torn ACL at 10. Yet, considering who it is, it saves this grade. DRAFT GRADE: B+

Rob Havenstein drew quite the rumble amongst the Ram faithful. I thoroughly enjoyed reading those comments. Havenstein was easily one of the best run blockers, excuse me, road-graders available at the tackle position. He is an immediate difference maker in the run game. But he will likely struggle in pass protection since he has bricks for feet. I understand Fisher plans to run the hell out of the ball, but it's not like the team will absolutely never pass. Sack totals may not decrease all that much this year. Nevertheless, this was a solid pick, and a great one for what they want to do. DRAFT GRADE: C+

Jamon Brown is definitely more athletic than Havenstein, and I believe he will eventually turn into a really good guard. He's extremely physical and fires off the ball like a mad man. But much like Havenstein, he has some work to do in the pass protection department before he reaches his full potential. Meanwhile, he too immediately upgrades the run blocking. DRAFT GRADE: B

Sean Mannion turned out to be the QB viewed as the fourth best in this year's draft (after Garrett Grayson was snatched up as the third). You know it's a poor draft for the position when so much of the discussion on the group revolves around who will go third instead of first. The best way to describe Mannion is a Nick Foles carbon copy. They're both tall, big armed quarterbacks, that love to go vertical, and are underrated passers on the run. Mannion and Grayson were two of the more pro ready quarterbacks in this years draft, even more than Mariota;  just not as talented. It makes sense that they went when they did. So it was wise of the Rams to grab one while they still could. DRAFT GRADE: B

Andrew Donnal was an excellent draft choice, and may actually challenge Havenstein in camp. The battle at right tackle will definitely be one to watch. He is a better pass blocker than Havenstein, although "Big Rob" has the edge in opening running lanes. Donnal was grossly over looked because of who he played across from, but like those before him, will likely be another Hawkeye lineman to carve out a good and long NFL career. DRAFT GRADE: B

Bud Sasser really benefited - and stepped up to the plate - after the dismissal of Dorial Green-Beckham from the Missouri football team. Sasser tripled his catch total, and proved to be a red zone specialist. He's only an average athlete, but excels in winning jump balls, and finding the holes in zones for easy receptions. No one should be surprised if the Rams carry six receivers again this season. DRAFT GRADE: B-

STEAL ALERT!!!!!!!! Cody Wichmann was the best value pick the Rams had in this draft. He is the only lineman drafted by the team that is good in both run and pass blocking. He's also very athletic; allowing him to get to second level blocks with ease. He excels at getting out to block on screens. The best part is he's a high effort player. He needs to get stronger, as he merely blocks his man rather than move him. But it gets the job done, and he's a very safe pick. I expect him to not only make the team, but to challenge Brown all the way through the last day of camp. DRAFT GRADE: A

Bryce Hager will make this team as a seventh round draft pick, and he will be the heir apparent to James Laurinaitis in a few years. You heard it here first! I, like many, had about a fourth round grade on Hager. While he needs to add weight and strength, Hager is a damn good football player. He attacks the ball, and he can cover. He's a smart player that uses film study to dissect plays pre-snap. Basically, he's the more athletic version of Laurinaitis that many Rams' fans have been asking for. Again, he's not ready yet, but an NFL strength and conditioning program should quickly change that. DRAFT GRADE: A

Martin Ifedi wasn't my first choice for this pick. Now, I'm about to play armchair GM for a second, but if I'm making this pick - and it's my last pick of the draft - I am taking La'el Collins, and controlling his rights in case he gets cleared. Picking Ifedi was basically a wasted anyways, as he will have a hard time cracking the 53 man roster with the defensive line's depth. He will have to beat out Ethan Westbrooks who has a year in the system under his belt, and has the better motor. Collins on the other hand has not been charged with anything, and is only wanted for questioning. Now like the rest of the world I have no details as to what's going on, but I do know, not many people are willing to sit for a year by choice. To bet on yourself like that means you must be pretty confident you're innocent. Of course that won't be happening due to no language covering UDFA's in the CBA. But let's say he becomes a suspect, I think the risk/reward of getting a top 20 player at pick 227 would be worth it. Again, in the end, it's not like Ifedi is expected to make an impact, or even make the team. Just my two cents. DRAFT GRADE: D-

In the grand scheme of things, the Rams didn't do half bad. It certainly wasn't a draft full of excitement. As the with most linemen, fans rarely get overwhelmed with joy for one picked outside of the top ten. So to pick four lineman, and none being even - at least arguably - the third best at their position makes for a long day. But the team did what they had to do, and I for one am not upset. I know other TST guys like LA Champ, ramsrock, ramsfan314, and others, all are happy with the all the new "beef" that's been added. The battles on the line in camp will be a real pleasure, and the run game has been drastically approved. With that being said there's work to do in pass protection.

The thing that makes me most nervous with Gurley, is his injury occurred without being touched. He cut, and it popped. Those are usually the worst kind of injuries. But, if he can come back healthy like Jeremy Maclin did - who also popped his ACL without contact TWICE - then the Rams are going to be sitting real pretty. A healthy and strong Gurley could mean a return to the playoffs, and then some...