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All Rams, All The Time (1 Viewer)

Beat writers draft is a great idea. Unfortunately, it looks like they're taking who they would want, not what the team is likely to do.

WARNING - from the LPEWS (long post early warning system)

below was an exchange at another board, in which somebody listed 24 reasons why he thought the rams WON'T take suh (some which are less cornball than others :) )...

other poster -

"While there are a lot of interpretations saying they will, well...it depends on who is doing the interpretations.

Let's list.....

1) Signing Feely - many say that Feely is here to mentor the heir apparent Bradford. Well...not in Feely's mind. And, who says that Shurmer, a past coach of Feely, doesn't think Feely is the answer for an entire year. He's healthy. He's been productive at times and he performed well with Shurmer in the WCO.

2) Signing Robbins - many say this is the stop gap that Spagnuolo needs for the porous DL. The Rams are woefully short on the DT and DE front. Many here think the journeymen we have in place are suitable to field for a season. I say having one of the worst run defenses in the league isn't sured up by a thirty three-four year old linemen. Can you say rotational depth. Plus, where is the inside push? It won't be Robbins.

3) A QB coming off reconstructive shoulder surgery and hasn't played one snap - I just have this feeling that $45 million is something anyone, including Kroenke or Kahn, would be concerned about. If it were your $45 million, I think you would feel different. Maybe it's just me.

4) A system QB - Ok...now that a few NFL QB's say that Bradford is a system QB, I'm on the Bradford was a system QB. I don't want to hear "All QB's are system QB's." You know what is meant by that comment. No one is enamoured by his arm strength...no one is enamoured by his scrambling ability although he is mobile.

5) A Bulger-like demeanor - this along with the shoulder are my two biggest concerns. If I have to watch another QB with no fire on the field for another 3-5 years, I'll going to be sick.

6) The Rams haven't announced anything - It's 10 days fellas...if Bradford were the guy...if he were the choice, they would be negotiating. I don't care what Demoff says. This is a HUGE red flag and you Bradford guys ought to be thinking about this. There is NO logical reason to not be negotiating if they TRULY decided....none. And...if you say they are waiting because some monster trade may pop up...well, that says they are undecided.

7) Conflicting statements - Don't listen to what Devaney says in the last month. Don't listen to what Demoff says now. Look at what Devaney said months ago. Look at what Spagnuolo said months ago. You build inside out. And you know, he's right.

8) If you're going to bluff a pick, do you bluff the DT's or Bradford? Well, there is only 1 Bradford...there are 2 highly rated DT's.

9) Why spend so much time with other QB prospects when Bradford is clearly the choice at #1? Oh...as Mort says...He appreciates that the Rams are going through the process. Well...if you have already decided, it's stupid. Why waste the time and money when you have valuable pick positions in rounds 2-7?

10) Kroenke ponying up - This takes the "management team needs to find the "face" to save their jobs" excuse that has been thrown around.

11) I can feel a momentum swing...I can feel it like I did when Texas Stadium implode...or when I watched Suh tackle that crash dummy with 3200 lbs. of pressure.

12) There have been enough negatives about Bradford to be worried - Dilfer, Simms unenthusiastic endorsement, Jaworski's rumored dislike. How many people say Bradford is THE best player in the draft? How many people say the Rams "have" to draft a QB because they past on Ryan and Sanchez?

13) Bradford's timid performance in front of Jon "blowhard" Gruden. It was like he was star struck. I wonder how McCoy or Tebow would have performed? Did they?

14) Bradford's lack of comeback or crunch time victories in college. Although it's not his fault, he just hasn't had crunch time experience...that he has had success with anyway.

15) Bradford didn't go 1st in the Herd's mock draft!

16) Suh's overwhelming dominance the last two years in college.

17) Suh - the highest D Lineman vote getter in Heisman history and the guy who should have won it.

18) Suh - the winner of every conceivable award given to college D Lineman.

19) Suh - the intense intimidator who has been relentless in his pursuit of greatness as demonstrated in his off season preparation, his combine performance and his pro day performance.

20) Suh's cerebral aspect of the game including he lightning like ability to recognize plays, including screens.

21) Suh's ability to play multiple positions across the front line INCLUDING DE.

22) Suh's ability to drop back in coverage.

23) Suh's attitude to not be good...but great.

24) Suh was picked #1 overall in the Herd's mock draft!"


imo some of these points are overreaching, and your case would have been better made with fewer of them... in the end, it didn't strike me as a tidal wave of overwhelming supporting evidence against bradford, but taken as a whole, riddled with controversial, counterintuitive and in some cases contradictory points (see below), some of which suggest reasons to TAKE bradford (one of the worst of which was #7 - we have been trying to build from inside out, but are in the shape we are because we have paid too little attention to the QB position, obviously not too much... also, #12, in which you invoke simms as a critic, who has since endorsed bradford)...

1 - wasn't feely signed for backup-type money?

2 - robbins (or feely, for that matter) isn't the kind of signing that is going to influence the direction of the first overall pick... the choice of bradford or suh will have nothing to do with those signings, they have nothing to do with the long term future of the franchise. in the movie pi by arnofsky, the lead character cracked up by seeing things like the golden mean and the fibonacci series EVERYWHERE... EVERYTHING was imbued with heightened meaning, and was connected to everything else.

3 - you are only seeing the negative implications of bradford being signed to a contract with $45 million guaranteed (possibly the last of a byegone era by 2011?)... there is risk with all picks at #1 (what if suh doesn't become one of the best defensive players in football?), the idea is to MANAGE the risk. towards your end, if you aren't going to have confidence in your medical staff (by all acounts, they say bradford isn't a dramatically increased medical risk), should we just dismiss all medical staffs and not listen to them anymore... suh has had multiple knee surgeries but that isn't talked about a lot, presumably he has been medically cleared... as shoulders are admittedly important to QBs, knees are to DL... should we throw out positive clearances on suh, too, since you are sceptical of doctors, and not draft him? what if bradford is as good as advertised, and the rams win, and sell more seats, and more shirts, and go to the playoffs...

4 - its not like bradford never took a snap from under center... you are reaching with the arm strength... i don't know if any pundits have actually said they fear for his NFL career because he has a weak arm... it is laughable to think brandt would have said he had one of the best workouts ever if there were ANY questions about arm strength... jamarcus russell had a stronger arm... which #1 overall would you rather have? a resounding chorus of NFL-types have said that his arm strength is more than sufficient to make all the throws. stafford has a stronger arm, but isn't as accurate... if they both fulfill their potential, bradford may well have the better career... as long as you have requisite strength, the more key differentiating factor in success is accuracy, and bradford has been called as accurate as any QB in the past decade (including manning)... did ryan have a cannon? sanchez?

5 - if you were in the huddle, would you want somebody screaming at you at the top of his luings and with the veins bursting out of his forehead... or would you rather have a QB with a relaxed demeanor that radiated calm in the face of pressure? nobody was complaining about bulger when he was winnning the first few years, it is just since he began losing... if the rams had done a better job putting an OL around him, drafted better skill position weapons as holt & bruce aged, and bulger had continued winning, who would be complaining about his personality... this is revisionist history, and conflating other factors, attributing superficial, irrelevant ones to his being a "loser". the human spirit is protean, and the form in which it takes shape myriad and kaeidoscopic... it would be a narrow POV to suggest there isn't more than one way to lead and win (lewis was the rah rah guy in BAL, not dilfer, when they won super bowl - i think it is good to have vocal guys on the team, but it doesn't necessarily have to be the QB - in the cowboys dynasty, that guy was irvin)... during the SF-CIN super bowl thriller, on the final drive culminating in the game winning pass to taylor, i think it was harris barton who was nervous and was freaked out but impressed that montana was calm enough to notice and comment on john candy being in the audience... inner qualities can have tangible exterior manifestations (like a rodin relief, with characters struggling to emerge from the underlying matrix)... devaney admits leaf had character issues that were overlooked with horrific consequences (SD emerged from their funk, drafting TWO franchise QBs in brees and rivers)... just like it would have been hard to tell walter payton would be so great looking just at his measurables, because you can't measure a man's heart, is an even more important reason why projecting QB from college to pro is fraught with peril. hard to know what is in a player's head, it can't be measured even approximately by as crude an instrument as a wonderlic... but a lot of people, after spending time with him, have come away impressed with his character, intangibles, work ethic, quiet leadership by example... they like what is in his head.

6 - they have gone on record saying they have already begun preliminary negotiations with more than one prospect... do you know they don't have some basic parameters in place already... there is one more workout, a private one (next week)... it should be a formality, but they have expressed desire to confirm that the shoulder is fine, AFTER his earlier workout... while unexpected, a setback could alter their thinking... why would they get a contract done BEFORE this, if they don't need to. you are expressing elsewhere the team should be more concerned about the medical end... you are taking a scattershot approach here, and that is what happens when you throw up a bunch of stuff just to see what sticks... it leads to inconsistencies... by your stated concerns, the rams SHOULD wait a bit longer to make sure... to state otherwise is contradicting yourself.

7 - building inside out... lets see, they took jason smith instead of sanchez, chris long instead of ryan, carriker the year before... including barron and kennedy, by my count, that is FIVE linemen in last seven years... building inside OUT, presupposes an out, at some point, hopefully in less than a few decades... the rams haven't drafted a 1st round QB in almost a half century (everett acquired in trade for two 1sts)... maybe that is a reason we have had fallen on hard times during several cycles... in past two years, we have acquired interior OL brown and bell... i don't get that we have been neglecting the OL... not sure we have gotten the greatest ROI on our picks and free agent acqs, but that is a different story, and doesn't speak to a lack of trying. were DAL & IND wrong to secure franchise QB before building a stronger OL in front of them? how did that work out for them?

8 - i don't know if they are good bluffers, but they said early on they were looking at four players... the two QBs and two DTs... if nobody thinks they are taking the DT, not sure if it is their fault. for practical purposes, if the rams think bradford is the only franchise QB in this draft, it would take such a huge offer to pry bradford away, realistically, it is very unlikely somebody would pay it... sometimes trades happen like ricky williams, but they are rare. as good as EVERYBODY acknowledges suh is, if other teams are convinced rams take bradford, doesn't this speak to two things... A - other teams may hold bradford in a lot of esteem, and realize STL would be crazy to part with him for less than an extortionate rate... AND B - BECAUSE, he is the right pick, given the state of the franchise (i agree you don't get any QB, just because you passed on ryan and sanchez - but some scouts think bradford is a comparable or superior prospect).

9 - doesn't this contradict point above... wouldn't looking at other QBs help them in bluffing? could this be used as leverage to negotiate a better contract with bradford?

10 - i don't know how you have the time to think all this stuff up... unless kroenke tells devaney who to pick, it is possible that he could take a pick to "save his job"... we hope that isn't the case, and if he does take bradford, it is because he genuinely thinks it is the best thing for the long terms future of the franchise, and won't be motivated by short term concerns like job security... if he makes a bad call here (bradford busts), he isn't immune from being fired at some point... and he only has his track record and reputation to try and secure future jobs... his long term interests dovetail with the franchise's... if he does well, they will do well.

11 - non-sequitur

12 - the fact that bradford isn't UNIVERSALLY acclaimed as one of the best prospects of the decade doesn't mean he isn't a great prospect... ryan had questions, he had a lot of INTs his last year at BC... most years, there will be some dissenters... some thought leaf was a better prospect than manning, so scouts can make mistakes... not sure if simms changed his mind after looking at film more closely, but below sounds like a ringing endorsement of bradford, and the rams in making right move in taking him (a teaser excerpt - "he is absolutely worthy of being the 1st pick of the draft". for every dilfer, there are two or three or four of brandt ("secretariat"-like in leaving QB field behind, best workout he has ever seen, with aikman), lande (most accurate QB he has EVER scouted), mayock (franchise QB, requisite arm and constellation of physical traits, skills, talent and intangibles), casserly (polled 15-20 teams - "unanimous" bradford over clausen), savage (would be in conversation for best QB prospect in recent years), etc... while not QBs, they are scouts and GM-types, which arguably carries more weight... you have said elsewhere, that being best of the worst isn't a glowing appraisal, or best basis for a strong recommendation... if peyton manning were in the class, by that same logic, he might suffer in comparison with other historical QB classes, in being "MERELY" the best of a bad class... bradford could be great, and that is a discrete and separate potential from other QBs, even if clausen, mccoy, tebow underwhelm... just as if, they exceed expectations, it doesn't make him "better" than what he actually was, because he topped a subsequently "good" class... he should be scouted on his own merits... scouting always involves looking at comp players... by some attributes, such as accuracy, some scouts think he is among the best of the past decade... there are a lot of testaments on the positive side of this equation, if you choose to look at them. cynically, some scouts, such as dilfer, may like to take contrarian positions, with the thinking that bad picks will be forgiven (the idea was a long shot) and the good ones will make them look like geniuses? they can than build up their resume os "strong contrarian" calls that were vindicated (neglecting to mention the misses)... for the record, i'm not suspicious of dilfer's motives, and think his concerns are sincere (but it is possible some scouts engage in this kind of calculated duplicity)... i have seen people come up with wildly divergent interpretations OF THE SAME HIGHLIGHT... you might think a review of an entire body of work would lead to a sort of "normalization" of opinion and smoothing out of the divergence... but it could also lead to scouts getting locked and grooved into their preconceptions and biases, seeing what they expect to see... scouting doesn't deal with tautologies like logic, proofs like math, or controlled experiments like physics. it is as good (or bad) as the scouts, and prone to difference of opinion, but because all individuals have unique histories, associations, memories... naturally with the material they are making interpretations FROM being unique and different, this leads to a state of affairs where disagreement (sometime robust and vigorous) is the norm, and not the exception.

Kirwan had asked his QB guru to put a tag on Bradford for him:

The answer was-- Troy Aikman-like....size, accuracy, and poise.

Kirwan: Did you see that when you watched Bradford on tape, Phil?

Simms: Yes, I saw everything. I saw a guy who makes all the plays....and makes all the plays without effort. You want guys who can throw the ball down the field and make it look like they are throwing it to the flat for 5 yards. I don't want him to gear up and give me everything he's got to throw the thing down the field for a post-corner or a deep route. Sam Bradford can get it done in a phone booth...he's very compact....doesn't need a lot of room to make the throws.....it comes out of his hand very cleanly...throws a lot of spirals......he's got the size....he's got long arms.....looks like he's got big hands.

There was really nothing that I saw about Sam Bradford that made me go: I'd be careful.....I think everything I saw, that I've seen in his years at Oklahoma, he's clearly, in my eyes, the best QB....and he is absolutely worthy of being the 1st pick of the draft.

Kirwan: Should the Rams not hesitate to take Sam Bradford?.....that would be my opinion.

Simms: Look, I'll be shocked if they don't take Bradford. I don't think there is a trade of any kind that they would make. They have to go out and get a QB and start getting an identity to their football team and something to start building around. I think Sam Bradford is that type of QB. They passed on Ryan...I understood that......thought they'd find a way to get Chad Henne....who was, in my eyes, the equal to Ryan and Flacco. The Rams can't wait around anymore.... they've got to go out and get that guy.....and that guy is Sam Bradford.

Kirwan: Yes, I agree with you."

13 - didn't see the gruden film... is this your most damning, linchpin point, the deathblow that dooms bradford's career.

14 - scouting is an abstraction... you have to weigh everything, and given all the evidence, think who would do best for us... even if clausen had more crunch time experience, it was in college... we don't really know how all this will translate to the next level... if the rams in looking at the overall picture determine they like bradford best, i take that to mean they think his other factors outweigh his lack of crunch time experience... is there conclusive statistical evidence to support that QBs with less crunch time games fail at a more prolific rate than their more battle-tested counterparts? as far as level of competition, it isn't like london fletcher beating the odds by making it from john carrol...

15 - suh would not be a bad choice... but i think the thought process in some is that suh is more likely top 3 DT than bradford is a top 3 QB... but bradford may have a better chance of becoming as top 8-10 QB (if he is as good as SOME scouts think), which could impact the team more than a top 3 DT.

17 - bradford was pretty dominant in 2008, and was outstanding in 2007 (one of best freshman season's for a QB in past decade or two, if not ever?)... he didn't play much, in 2009, but that would be almost a restatement of your injury concern, already addressed above.

18 - bradford won a ton of awards as QB and offensive player, heisman year, the last year he was healthy.

19 - you sure you want to compare pro days? nobody could possibly fault bradford for his pro day... scouts were visibly impressed with how he had reshaped him body by the combine, adding about 15 lbs to his upper body of functional, muscle weight.

20 - bradford is very decisive and has a highly compact, efficient, economical & streamlined delivery characterized by little wasted motion, leading to an ultra-quick release... this can only help him at the next level, with pass rushers and DBs converging faster...

21 - bradford can't play LT and WR, too - you got me there... but even manning would fall by this criteria...

22 - ditto... and a QB can do multiple things in different ways... some QBs can throw inside but not outside, short but not long, vice verce... if bradford can make all the throws, it will put pressure on all levels of the defense, and keep it as a whole on their toes... he is far more mobile than the statue-like legacy of warner & bulger the past decade-plus...

23 - i haven't seen/heard bradford is content with good and doesn't want to be great.

24 - see 15

gosselin's final top 100 (wed - 4/21)...


based on this, from what group of 5-10 players falling after 32 & 64 will the rams likely be choosing from?

with the 2.1, many are hopeful of a trade down to secure an extra 3rd... but likely they wouldn't want to trade down much more than a handful of picks...

2nd - after 32, the next five all could fill positions of need...

33 - taylor mays (if they retain atogwe, they already have butler - not happening)

34 - rob gronkowski (imo, gresham is the only TE they would take with this pick, and it may well trump everything else - it has been over a decade since no TE went in the 1st... when reggie kelly and kleinsasser went in the 2nd)

35 - jahvid best (he would bring a different dimension than jackson, but similar to gronk with a checkered medical history... matthews might be tempting, but he won't get past teams like SEA, HOU AND SD)

36 - brian price (would certainly fill a need, robbins is approaching mid-30s... some might rather have inverse QB/DT combo of suh/colt mccoy... not me - don't get your hopes up, gosselin has him going #32 to saints... he could be compelling value if he drops, though i think they may opt to go in a different direction)

37 - patrick robinson (could be a luxury pick, with bartell and depending how fletcher is rehabbing, though in a passing league, a strong nickle CB with starter upside is hardly a luxury - that is how bartell and fletcher started out... still, the rams have so many other equally or more pressing needs... gosselin also has turner gone already in his final mock)

further down...

the names that catch my eye the most are WRs tate and benn, LB washington and OT charles brown (all big needs)... based on the top 100, if they dropped down 10 spots, they would just miss tate, could get washington and brown, and benn would be available about 10 picks after this... i think they want to add playmakers to surround bradford with (but brown would help protect him better, and barron probably gone after this season... WLB also a gaping hole, voborra might not start for another team in the league?)... gresham almost certainly gone... RB2 upgrade also a need, but there may be some in the 3rd... the WR value could line up here with tate or benn, possibly in a trade down.

3rd, after 64... mccluster and aaron hernandez already off the board, but might be extremely tempting if they drop...

some other names... OT/OG vladimir ducasse (my favorite here, if the dominoes fall like this... hasn't played football that long, lot of upside, another way to protect bradford), DT lamarr houston, RB montario hardesty?

second 3rd (second half of the round... about 81-95), acquired with a trade down from 2.1 (unless there is somebody they have to have, possible, as a few good players carrying round one grades always drop)...

would just miss on names like OLB patrick sapp and slot WR jordan shipley... RB joe mcknight?

DAY TWO (rounds 2-3)...

pool could be a good analogy... if rams choose right here, it will not only lead to a starter, but also give them a good "leave", setting us up for a gimme shot in the 3rd... the ability to do this adeptly is related to a few things... knowing the inherent value of positions (not getting a FB here), relative strength of respective positions in THIS draft, understanding our team needs and that of others, where other positions prospects within are likely to go off the board, etc...

on offense, value best aligned here with WR (benn/tate) or OT (saffold/brown), imo...

STL needs a receiving TE and RB2 upgrade, but it is a deep TE draft (hernandez or pita could slip to 3rd?), and RBs tend to slide (greene lasted to 3rd last year)... mccluster & dwyer are interesting, with different skill sets... i'd prefer mccluster for his versatility, but dwyer could be a carry the load guy if jackson is out... ben tate blew up the combine, and has tremendous measurables... hardesty may have knee concerns? BTW, gronk, if healthy, could be witten like and better all-around, complete TE prospect than gresham... but if teams weren't concerned about back, he may have gone end of 1st... rams aren't that far from there now... if medical clears the back, he could be better than gresham... back injuries are scary, though...

on defense, mays is interesting, but a luxury if atogwe is retained... while atogwe is a playmaker (must be high up among all defenders in combined INTs/FFs last 2-3 years), he isn't in reed/polamalu/healthy sanders/young brian dawkins class in terms of being a reliable back line tackler, or in coverage... swapping him out for mays, who has also been questioned for his coverage, doesn't sound good to me... there is speculation that he could be converted to LB... at 6'3" (?), 230 & with a sub-4.4, he is is a physical freak that may be unprecedented among previous safety prospects... that is WLB size, but some scouts question whether he could make the transition... if it were successful, an obvious recent parallel would be CAR WLB thomas davis, who played safety and LB at georgia, and bounced around both positions initially in CAR... one he settled in at LB, he was having a career season and looked like one of the best young 4-3 OLBs in the game (and with beason, giving them one of the best young LB tandems in the game, maybe the best), before going down with a knee injury. the position conversion seems to risky to me, and smacks of high profile failures like crouch, carriker (to a lesser extent bellisari), which have almost thematically co-defined some of our spectacular busts (also taking unnecessary character risks ala bengals, as well as overemphasizing speed and athleticism, instead of proven production at major programs)...

DE a clear need, but i don't like the value here as much... if hughes had fallen, he might have been the pick... i don't know the DTs well enough to make a judgment here, but it doesn't seem as immediately pressing a need on defense as DE (where long is only viable long term starter) or WLB... BTW, on kindle, i think he is listed at 250, which might work in an undersized 4-3 front emphasizing speed (like IND), but think spags prefers bigger DE... he is probably more of a pure 3-4 OLB... he also reportedly may have medical red flag with knee, which would explain why he was one of the most conspicuous drops in the draft at any position (with clausen)...

at WLB, a glaring need, daryl washington sounds like he has upside, but maybe not an extensive body of work (hopefully not a one year wonder?)... he would probably start immediately, and fill a gaping hole, and with outstanding 2nd round pick laurinaitis, would give STL two good young LBs, and with vet stop gap diggs, an actual LB corp...

back to offense, and WR/OT...

benn & tate seem like best options at that position... they have different strengths... benn would give rams a rare non-smurf WR, and make a good complemement to avery size-wise... he could be a beast downfield blocking for jackson... has RAC potential... would probably have a higher grade, if he had a more competent QB than juice williams (like tate in ND)... he didn't run a fast 40 at combine, though reportedly bettered it to a 4.4 at pro day, answering some questions... tate is smaller, but is big enough to suceed at a high level (similar size to steve smith of NYG, who had a breakout season in 2009), and looks more explosive and a better playmaker than benn... he has good hops, ball skills, body control, etc., as equalizers for his less than ideal size... sounds like he has good football temperment, is tough, competitive, has good character, work ethic, football IQ and other intangibles... while short, he is compact, has a powerful lower body and looks to have good contact balance and tackle breaking ability... two corollaries issuing from his being a former RB - natural open field vision, instincts and running skills, including cutting ability and elusiveness... ALSO, because i don't think he played the position as a prep, he is still learning route running, and could have big upside (boldin was record setting prep Q, with his best football still in front of him... he had pre-combine speed and explosiveness questions (compared to josh reed by some???), but smoked his 40 with an unexpected 4.4...

at OT, not well versed on their respective strengths/weaknesses, but saffold & brown were possible round one candidates, and could be heir apparent for barron... ducasse could also be that, and may be a more natural OG, which would be probable upgrade over greco/fraley... he has limited development (played two years in high school?) and maybe level of competition concerns, but some scouts think he has outstanding natural talent and physical tools, and big upside... might be a risky pick here? certainly one of the tackles, which would preclude a potential starting WR or WLB here, makes a lot of sense in terms of better protecting investment in bradford, and better enabling him to have time to distribute tha ball to future playmakers, when rams inevitably surround him with better WR/TE options... it would also better leverage a team strength in steven jackson...

a dream draft for me would be benn/tate with 2nd, involving a trade down, add a 3rd, and be able to fill BOTH needs of a RB (mccluster or dwyer) and a receiving TE weapon (hernandez, pitta?)... it is possible, though, that none of that group falls to 3rd.

but if we don't get a WR, i'm fine and see the need for OT or WLB... that would probably be my prioritization order here... WR/OT/WLB...

note that some think bradford was a botched pick because we don't have a lot of playmakers (maybe none outside of jackson)... as if it makes sense to be worried about the weapons THIS year for a hopefully franchise caliber QB for next 10-12 years (he may start 6-8 games as rookie, if they follow the stated mcnabb template)... some of the same people that say we could wait for a QB next year are taking a longer than one year view, and we should do the same in terms of roster architecting for all positions... the rebuilding of right side of OL, and surrounding bradford with more weapons, is a process that could take a few years... he will probably hit his stride in 2-3 years, giving a lot of possibility for future drafts and free agent moves/trades to fill these holes (of course in 3 years jackson will be nearing 30, so a STARTING RB will be a looming need in future, but RBs can be found in rounds 2-3 or even later at times)... also, if the draft breaks right, and STL could come away with benn/tate AND mccluster/dwyer AND hernandez/pitta, rams could dramatically upgrade their skill positions THIS YEAR!

IF avery can be more resilient and stay healthy (bigger and stronger), and jason smith, bell & jason brown play to their potential, the offense could be dramatically more functional and competitive quicker than many realize - even among rams cognoscenti... :mellow:

Hypothetical Question: If you knew that both Clausen and McCoy were going to be available at 2.1 would you still have advocated the Bradford pick?

Don't get me wrong, I really like what I see in Bradford. He is a fantastic prospect and I'm not saying it was the wrong move. But, we COULD have gone with Suh at 1.1 (or traded down for "most of cle" picks) and STILL got Clausen or McCoy at 2.1.

Just a fun question...with hindsight being 20/20 and all.

Hypothetical Question: If you knew that both Clausen and McCoy were going to be available at 2.1 would you still have advocated the Bradford pick?Don't get me wrong, I really like what I see in Bradford. He is a fantastic prospect and I'm not saying it was the wrong move. But, we COULD have gone with Suh at 1.1 (or traded down for "most of cle" picks) and STILL got Clausen or McCoy at 2.1. Just a fun question...with hindsight being 20/20 and all.
Well, it's not all hindsight, some people anticipated the ability to draft Suh at 1.1 and a QB at 2.1. =) I admit I thought Clausen would be nabbed, but I'd definitely take Suh+Clausen. I'm hoping we trade #33 and get a nice selection of picks. If we keep the pick, I'd rather end up with a poor-man's Suh and take Cody at DT. We need a runstuffer that will command doubleteams. It's a glaring weakness, and contributes to the perceived poor DE play. Later, I really want us to end up with, say, Dennis Pitta. This is a TE rich draft and we should take advantage of it.
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It's really too bad they didn't pick Suh now that Clausen is still there. of course they couldn't know that at the time. I think Clausen is more ready to play at the pro level but I have heard that many people think Bradford is the better long term prospect.

Love the Saffold pick. Good versitile lineman. Goselin had him projected to the Vikes in rnd 1 in his second mock. Now we need to get our new gunner a receiver with the next pick. Best TE or WR on the board at 3.1.

What's most curious is that Devaney seemed to be talking about how he'd be parlaying these late picks for higher ones--yet there's been no movement whatsoever.

lyon812 said:
I'd really be happy if they picked up Hernandez or Pitta tomorrow at 4.1.
That would be logical.A couple of guys that were highly rated that have fallen:Everson Griffen, DE, USC - projected as a possible 1st rounder; great speedBruce Campbell, OT, Maryland - inexperienced and raw, but a great athletic specimen; rumored a few weeks ago to be a Raider target at 1.08, but most scouts have him much lower due to his "project" status
Both those guys would be good (I like Campbell as a developmental guy) but I have feeling they'll take Gilyard to get another weapon for Bradford. I'm not really high on Gilyard and expected him to last this long but it'll be telling if the Rams pass on him here. Carlton Mitchell is a possibility since they could use a big receiver.

Both those guys would be good (I like Campbell as a developmental guy) but I have feeling they'll take Gilyard to get another weapon for Bradford. I'm not really high on Gilyard and expected him to last this long but it'll be telling if the Rams pass on him here. Carlton Mitchell is a possibility since they could use a big receiver.
Bonus points for accuracy. :thumbup: I really wish they would have taken Griffen. Of course the Vikings take Griffen with the next pick... a good team drafts for value, a bad team for need.
Not sure how I feel about Uh-Oh at 5.01... he pretty much just a blocker. I guess they need blockers, so I don't hate the pick.

As long as we are talking about TE and WR at 4.01 and 5.01. it would have been nice to have picked a blue chip TE at 4.01 and Carlton Mitchell at WR with the 5.01. Mitchell has about the same chance as Gilyard as being a difference maker, imo. I might slightly favor Gilyard, but I would greatly favor Hernandez or Pitta over Uh-Oh.

Hindsight is 20/20, of course.

Not sure how I feel about Uh-Oh at 5.01... he pretty much just a blocker. I guess they need blockers, so I don't hate the pick.

As long as we are talking about TE and WR at 4.01 and 5.01. it would have been nice to have picked a blue chip TE at 4.01 and Carlton Mitchell at WR with the 5.01. Mitchell has about the same chance as Gilyard as being a difference maker, imo. I might slightly favor Gilyard, but I would greatly favor Hernandez or Pitta over Uh-Oh.

Hindsight is 20/20, of course.
I wasn't terribly high on Gilyard, but a lot of people really liked him. Riley Cooper or Blair White were preferable in my eyes. Still, he's certainly a good value in the 4th round--it's a lot more tolerable than if they'd reached for him. Anyway, yes, the disappointment of the draft for me is our inability to pick up one of the excellent TE prospects. Hoomanawanui is just silly. The overview on NFL.com is depressing:

Hoomanawanui has some physical skills but has struggled to show it on the field. He came to Illinois with a lot of expectations but suffered some sort of injury virtually every season. He has good size and flashes the ability to smother opponents when blocking on the edge but does not unload with much pop or punch and often lets opponents escape with minimal resistance. He tends to round off his cuts and does not show much of a burst out of his breaks and struggles to separate from good man coverage. He shows good hand-eye coordination and has a wide receiving radius.

So he's a slow runner, a powerless blocker, and doesn't separate. Awesome, just what we needed. What does he offer that we can't get from Fells or Fine?

Maybe we'll pick up McCoy or Dickerson and give me some hope.

At least I'd heard of Hoomanawanui. Who's Onobun?
i don't know, but if the NFL doesn't work out, the writers won't have to change his name if he gets a bit part in a stars wars sequel! :bag:mayock didn't make it sound like a complete wasted pick... former hoops player from arizona (ala t-gon, gates, jimmy graham)... physical specimen and athletic phenom with freakish measurables (6'6" 250 - 4.4, 37.5 vertical & 11'1" broad jumps)... very raw, a project (practice squad?)... 170 -- Rams -- TE Fendi Onobun"A little while ago the Rams took blocking TE Michael Oh-oh from Illinois, and I told you the verticle TE would follow. The Rams just took Onobun from the University of Houston. He played four years of college basketball at Arizona, followed by a redshirt year to play football at Houston. He's raw, but an athletic specimen and should be an attractive target in a couple of years for Sam Bradford."a write up found on rams site...Ran a 4.45 40 at 6'6" and 250 lbs. !!As raw as it gets. But again, this is where you take guys with great height/weight/speed measurables.OverviewThe success of college basketball players Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates at the next level is starting to push athletic hoopsters into helmets and shoulder pads. Although Onobun won't be drafted as high as Miami's Jimmy Graham, he has enough potential to be a late-round pick.Onubon played four seasons of basketball at Arizona as a reserve (turning down football coach Mike Stoops' overtures to join his squad) after being a top recruit out of Houston. Taking advantage of the NCAA rule allowing an athlete one season of eligibility at another sport if he had not redshirted, Onubon moved back home to try his hands (and feet) at tight end for the Cougars. In 11 games, he had only two catches for 33 yards and one score … but he also blocked two extra points against Southern Miss, which earned him C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week. Missing time in preseason with a high ankle sprain set him back, as well.But that one year of film, along with his exceptional pro day (4.45-second 40-yard dash, 37.5-inch vertical, 11'1" broad jump) has whet scouts' appetite for what he could become with time. If his leg clears medical checks, don't doubt that teams will select him in the late rounds despite his lack of experience.AnalysisRelease: Athletic enough to get out of three-point stance into his route or get body moving in H-back position. Nice footwork to stutter step off the line and get past linebackers.Hands: Soft hands from the basketball court, looks natural as a receiver in his limited chances. Used to catching a ball in traffic during in his former sport but hasn't proven that on the football field.Route running: Limited experience running routes, used down the seam or on naked bootlegs in Houston's non-TE-friendly scheme. Work in progress here.After the catch: Long strider who lacks instincts and vision to elude defenders in the open field, but his acceleration and straight-line speed makes it tough for linebackers to catch up with him.Blocking: Prototypical height, fair build for an in-line tight end. Displays a decent anchor and can play with a wide base. Allows defenders too far into his chest at times, so they can shed him after initial contact when he drops his head and forgets to bend his knees and move his feet. Good footwork to gain position to wall off or seal the edge. Gives secondary effort if beaten while play is in progress.Intangibles: Affable person on the field, willingly physical on it.
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Thanks. At least he seems to have a great deal of raw potential. But then, so did a lot of people that we passed on. Maybe fantasy skews my perspsective a bit, but two late-round TE flyers--one a potential blocker who currently gets overpowered, and the other an athletic specimen that's going to need severe instruction--seems vastly subpar to taking one of the top prospects at the position--particularly with a new QB that is very comfortable throwing to the TE.

I just can't help but be reminded of the ill-fated Klopfenstein/Byrd draft. I like the writeup, but let's hope Onobun can overcome his limited experience and become a viable weapon, so that we don't have to do this yet again three years from now.

I just can't help but be reminded of the ill-fated Klopfenstein/Byrd draft. I like the writeup, but let's hope Onobun can overcome his limited experience and become a viable weapon, so that we don't have to do this yet again three years from now.
First thing I thought of. New England and Baltimore get two possibly starting caliber TEs each, the Rams take a possible blocker and an athletic guy who played a little football. Meh.

First thing I thought of. New England and Baltimore get two possibly starting caliber TEs each, the Rams take a possible blocker and an athletic guy who played a little football. Meh.
Yeah, that first sentence says it all. I thought we had four priorities on rounds 3-7, and a fair number of picks to make it happen: TE, RB, LB, and DE. I already griped about TE. Disappointingly, we still need a backup RB. Rumor has us linked to Westbrook, which is fine, but we really needed someone that can handle a significant amount of tough snaps in order to help spell Jackson. Someone like Dixon was available well into the sixth round, and would have been perfect. Dwyer would have been a good choice, too. Regarding LB/DE, we drafted a lot of defensive depth. Some players have upside, but a lot I know little to nothing about, so I'm not terribly qualified to rate the picks. Spags has shown he can get solid results out of unspectacular players (Vobora, Ah You, Hall), so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on the selections.Anyway, for quite awhile I'll be looking at Hoom and Onobun and wishing they were Pitta and Dwyer. Or Hernandez and Dixon. Or whatever combination you want. It would have been better. ******let's hope I'm proven wrong. =p
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onobun workout video... no idea how his raw tools will translate to the next level, but a phenomenal athlete... looks extremely smooth running for a TE-sized human...

his school was so poor, they couldn't even afford grass for the field... :confused:


his houston pro day... flashes good body control, ball skills and hands (check the pass that looked like it was overthrown around 5:30 mark)... the downbeat background music worth price of admission here...


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he will obviously be a project, but my interest is piqued after seeing him move on film... IF he pans out, he could be a receiving weapon for bradford (and relegate passing on hernandez/pitta to an afterthought), make the rams draft, and could be one of the steals of the overall 2010 draft, period.

PFW generally positive reviews of the draft class...

1 (1) St. Louis: QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

The Rams kick off a new era with the addition of a potential franchise quarterback. Bradford is extremely accurate, smart and competitive and really quieted concerns about his durability after he showed up at 236 pounds at the Combine. He needs to learn how to protect his body and brace himself from contact in the pros, and his biggest challenge, with limited foot quickness, could be continuing to stay healthy, especially with Alex Barron protecting one side of the line. The Rams need to continue adding more weapons for Bradford.

2.1 (33) St. Louis: OT Rodger Saffold, Indiana

Billy Devaney followed a successful protocol, adding much-needed protection for Sam Bradford, with OT Alex Barron having been on the trading block for years and too consistently giving up the edge and getting outleveraged. Given Bradford's lack of foot quickness to move around the pocket and his recent injury history, the decision to invest in the offensive line was a very wise move. Saffold is very athletic and could even allow the more physical Jason Smith to stay on the right side. However, he likely will begin his career on the right side and significantly upgrades the Rams' edges.

3.1 (65) St. Louis: CB Jerome Murphy, South Florida

The Rams concentrated on the two most premium positions on offense with their first two picks and turned their attention in the third round to defense. Jerome Murphy is big, physical and will be an enforcer on the defense. His lack of discipline creates cause for concern, and defensive coordinator Kent Flajole might have his hands full getting him to play consistently week in and week out.

4th - The Rams continued to re-build their offense and support Sam Bradford by selecting Mardy Gilyard to open up the round. Gilyard could compete readily in the slot and is a solid value pick in the fourth round.

5th - With Randy McMichael disappointing in St. Louis, the need for a tight end was great. Illinois TE Michael Hoomanawanui could bring value as a blocker, with excellent size, and has very dependable hands to factor into the short passing game. He should be a welcome addition for Sam Bradford. He played through injuries as a senior, but has starting-caliber potential. Rams DE Hall Davis looks every bit the part, but his instincts are still lacking. The light has yet to come on and questions exist about whether it ever will.

6th - The sixth round brought some very intriguing prospects off the board, starting with the Rams' selection of Houston TE Fendi Onobun, who caught only two balls in the lone season that he played football after four years on the hardcourt. However, he is loaded with upside and could become great if he ever puts it all together.

7th - Other seventh-round prospects who stood out for bringing value for where they were drafted include South Florida's George Selvie, who could become a contributing left end for Steve Spagnuolo and the Rams...


mardy gilyard featured on espn's sports science...


Selvie in particular could be a steal. He was dominant before having a disappointing final year. He's a fluid and dynamic pass rusher that really helps an area of need. After thinking about it, I wouldn't be surprised if they tried him at OLB, as he lacks the bulk to really be on the line nonstop.

local beat reporter/journalist bryan burwell weighs in...


Finally, a Rams draft that makes sense

Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell



"NEW YORK — It was Saturday morning outside Radio City Music Hall, and there was no longer any need for the sprawling red carpet, the cadre of paparazzi and all the other ostentatious Oscar-like trappings that turned the first round of the NFL draft into a Thursday night, prime-time extravaganza.

Things had long since moved deeper into the less spectacular but no less fascinating aspects of pro football's annual spring shopping spree. And by the end of the day, a rather peculiar thing had happened. The Rams made it through draft weekend without a single, befuddling pratfall.

In fact, it was just the opposite. General manager Billy Devaney and his suddenly empowered personnel department showed us what can happen when smart football people are left to their own devices without the unwanted interference of in-over-their-head bean counters who would alter the draft board based on the whims of a fantasy-league hunch.

There were no big splashes, no daring trades. All the Rams did was sit tight and trust their football instincts, believe in their convictions, swear by their scouting department and patiently avoid turning the draft weekend into another befuddling mess.

As the three-day draft played out, Devaney got everything on his shopping list, and maybe a few unexpected assets as well. He got his franchise quarterback (Sam Bradford) and a stud offensive lineman (Rodger Saffold) to serve as one of Bradford's career-long bodyguards. He got his breathless offensive skill-position game changer (Mardy Gilyard) without reaching too high to get him. He found a contact-loving, big cornerback (Jerome Murphy) and a blocking tight end (Michael Hoomanawanui), a fascinating experiment in the late rounds whose ceiling (if the Rams are lucky) could be a poor man's Antonio Gates (Fendi Onobun), and a pass rusher in the seventh round (George Selvie) who might be the steal of the weekend.

All in all, it was a smart, not spectacular weekend for a franchise — and a fan base — that isn't used to such behavior.

Under the old regime at Rams Park, you always figured if they were looking for one left shoe and went into a shoe factory, they'd come out with five right ones and a feather boa because someone read on some Internet blog that boas will be in style next season. Perhaps "immune" is the best word to use in describing the mental, physical and emotional state that Rams fans developed — like a thick scab over a bloody wound — as they braced themselves for the next galling move by that crack staff led by deposed GM Jay Zygmunt.

But to me, the moment that truly defined the new attitude and approach of the Devaney/Steve Spagnuolo era came late Friday night at the end of the third round. As every pick went by during the second and third round — and as all the wide receivers and tight ends kept vanishing from the draft board — there were plenty of puzzled expressions in Rams Nation. Why didn't Devaney draft a wideout at the top of the second, or trade up into the bottom of the round? Why didn't he use that third rounder or move up into the bottom of the third round to get a pass catcher to go with Bradford?

Heck, that's what we'd all do, right?

Devaney looked totally puzzled late Friday night when he got all those odd looks, partly because he already knew that the guy they had targeted all along as their "wow" guy — Gilyard — was still sitting there on the board, and would end up being the first guy selected in the top of the fourth round.

On Saturday, Devaney explained his strategy, and it absolutely dripped of smart football talk, not silly fantasy football blabber. "Well, you know what?" he said. "(Gilyard's) grade took us there honestly. The fact that he was a receiver — if it happened to be a defensive tackle, if it happened to be an offensive guard and he had the grade that Gilyard had on him this morning, I probably would have gotten my butt kicked (in the public and media), but we would have taken a guard. So I have to be honest, the fact that it was a receiver, that's fine. It worked out that way, but it was really that we stayed with our board."

Oh, my gosh. Stop sweet talking me, Billy D.

Trust your instincts? Believe in your scouting department? Draft according to football knowledge, not the winds of public sentiment? As much as fans like to believe they know what they're talking about — and a lot of them do know their football — they're not professional scouts. It's not a fan's job to know the slight separation between a blocking back from Utah, a punter from Texas, a receiver from Iowa and a nose tackle from Northwest Louisiana without the assistance of Mel Kiper Jr.'s or Todd McShay's draft boards.

So while some folks grumbled and scratched their heads when Devaney selected Saffold, a block-out-the-sun offensive tackle, then followed up with Murphy, a cornerback who fits Spags' defensive style, everyone in the Rams' war room grinned. They knew Saffold had strong first-round grades and will be a sure-fire first-year starter who will help further stabilize the offensive line, and Murphy had second-round grades and will help out with depth and special teams and eventually become a starter, too.

The Rams finally have real football people in charge out there in Earth City, and those football people do know what the separation is. The days of fantasy football at Rams Park seem to be over, and reality, at long last is settling in."

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Who will start at WR next year opposite Avery? Is Burton even worth rostering at this point?
I think Robinson, Gibson, Gilyard, Amendola, and Avery are the WR corps of the immediate future. Burton has solid hands, but that's about it. He's not going to be a factor unless there are injuries.
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PFW - NFC West had best divisional draft (rams got an A)...


Arizona Cardinals

GM Rod Graves addressed three pressing areas of need and bolstered the middle of the Cardinals' defense with his first two picks. He found great value in securing NT Dan Williams at the bottom of the first round and ILB Daryl Washington midway through the second, where they traded up to get him. WR Andre Roberts, who was selected with the pick received from Baltimore for Anquan Boldin, has the skill set to replace much of his production. Ken Whisenhunt and Graves made some moves on the third day, dealing Bryant McFadden back to the Steelers in order to trade up for QB John Skelton, and dropping down in the fourth round to land injured OLB O'Brien Schofield, who will be allowed to redshirt, and CB Jorrick Calvin, who was out of football for a season but has an intriguing skill set. TE Jim Dray could battle for a job as a blocker. Their fourth-round pick was sent to the Jets), along with a seventh-rounder in 2011, for FS Kerry Rhodes, who will replace the departed Antrel Rolle. The Cardinals cleared the fences with their first three picks, landed some solid developmental prospects in later rounds and could come away with four starters, counting Rhodes.

Grade: A-minus

San Francisco 49ers

With two first-round picks, the Niners had the potential to make a strong impact, and GM Trent Baalke and Mike Singletary made a big splash with the addition of two powerful offensive linemen - Anthony Davis, for whom they traded a fourth-round pick to move up two spots to secure, and Mike Iupati - establishing a new core in the trenches. S Taylor Mays is a four-year starter with a unique physical skill set, and Penn State ILB Navorro Bowman is a solid football player. All four have starter potential and should stand to mature under the guidance of Singletary. Their fifth-round pick was dealt to Miami for Ted Ginn Jr., who could stretch the defense and bring an element of excitement to the return game. WR Kyle Williams could also factor into the return game and potentially as a slot receiver. RB Anthony Dixon had some character concerns but could add more power to the backfield. TE Nate Byham can help establish a power run game as an in-line blocker. And CB Phillip Adams has developmental potential. Collectively, the Niners addressed a pressing need on the offensive line and could come away with more than four starters, including three who should start from Day One. Although there is some risk involved with the 20-year-old Davis, Mays, Bowman and Dixon, Singletary has shown he can shape up a roster.

Grade: A

Seattle Seahawks

GM John Schneider and Pete Carroll could not have wished for the board to fall much better than it did, being able to fill two of their most pressing needs in the first round with the selections of OT Russell Okung and FS Earl Thomas, two very sound football players. They dropped down 20 spots with a swap of second-round picks and also sent a third-rounder in 2011 for QB Charlie Whitehurst. WR Golden Tate has some playmaking ability. CB Walter Thurmond could prove to be a steal in the fourth round if he can stay healthy. DE E.J. Wilson has the strength to battle for a job. Schneider also added Philadelphia DE Chris Clemons, Detroit DE Robert Henderson, Jets RB Leon Washington and Tennessee RB LenDale White and DT Kevin Vickerson, while not losing many picks but wisely swapping instead. It allowed the Seahawks to still land hard-hitting S Kam Chancellor in the fifth round, former Trojans TE Anthony McCoy in the sixth and two developmental projects - LB Dexter Davis and WR Jameson Konz - in the seventh. Schneider manipulated the draft board to his advantage very well, landing nine prospects with a chance to make the roster and a handful of veterans who could help fill positions of need. They also placed a premium on character and drafted very soundly at the top of the draft, taking risks only on prospects whom Carroll has coached previously.

Grade: A-plus

St. Louis Rams

Landing a potential franchise quarterback filled the Rams' greatest need and was an easy decision for GM Billy Devaney and head coach Steve Spagnuolo. They wisely followed up in the second round by adding more protection with OT Rodger Saffold and supplying some more dependable hands with the selection of WR Mardy Gilyard, TE Michael Hoomanawanui and intriguing developmental TE Fendi Onobun (6). CB Jerome Murphy is rough around the edges and undisciplined but can bring more physicality to the defense. All three defensive ends drafted in Rounds 5-7 - Hall Davis, Eugene Sims and George Selvie - can battle for playing time, with Selvie being a solid value in the seventh round. Marquis Johnson and Josh Hull could vie for special-teams duty. Drafting at the top of the round has its benefits, as the Rams may come out of the wash with five starters from this class while also adding WR Brandon Gibson via a trade with Philadelphia.

Grade: A

USA Today 2010 Draft Grades - Rams got a B (8th best)...


NFL draft grades: Raiders finally have a reason to believe

By Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY

With the 2010 NFL draft complete, USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell hands out grades for how teams performed:


•Seattle Seahawks: The top priority, Russell Okung, supplants retiring Walter Jones as the franchise left tackle. Playmaking safety Earl Thomas fell into the Seahawks' lap in the 14th slot. Picked 60th overall, wideout-returner Golden Tate came with tremendous value. Exclamation points were added with trades that landed power runner Len Dale White, scatback Leon Washington and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson. An impressive performance to mark Pete Carroll's return to the NFL.


•Oakland Raiders: The franchise broke tradition and didn't spring bizarre moves from left field. A solid draft began with top-rated inside linebacker Rolando McClain, followed by underrated D-tackle Lamarr Houston. O-tackle needs were addressed with small-school wonder Jared Veldheer and sliding workout warrior Bruce Campbell. They still satisfied Al Davis' thirst for speed. Fourth-round wideout Jacoby Ford had a combine-best 4.28 in the 40. Oakland was also shrewd in trading for QB Jason Campbell to unseat No. 1 flop Jamarcus Russell.

•Detroit Lions: The team got arguably the best player in the draft in difference-making D-tackle Ndamukong Suh, which left no need to trade for Albert Haynesworth. With Kevin Smith healing from a torn knee ligament, they traded to get back in the first round to select big-play running back Jahvid Best. A great start in trying to duplicate last year's draft. Middle-round corner Amari Spievey and tackle Jason Fox were good value picks.


•San Francisco 49ers: The club sent a clear message by using their two first-round picks (11th and 17th overall) to beef up the O-line with tackle Anthony Davis and guard-tackle Mike Iupati. This should boost Frank Gore's effectiveness and help fix short-yardage woes. Hard-hitting safety Taylor Mays brings a bonus. Miffed that he was bypassed by his former college coach Carroll, May will have extra incentive for two games a year vs. Seattle.

•Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Some think D-tackle Gerald McCoy is a better prospect than Suh. There's no debate McCoy, compared to Warren Sapp because of his quickness, is a great fit for the rebuilding Bucs defense. He'll be joined in the middle by second-rounder Brian Price. Athletic wonder Arrelious Benn and fourth-rounder Mike Williams bolster the receiving corps.

•Baltimore Ravens: After trading out of the first round, the Ravens made good on two second-round picks, linebacker Sergio Kindle and 350-plus-pound nose tackle Terrence Cody. Kindle was considered a potential first-rounder. Cody is a huge run-stuffer. Baltimore addressed tight end needs with Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.

•New England Patriots: Team officials were plenty busy with 12 picks, including six in the first 113. They went right to work on filling needs, from first-round corner Devin McCourty, big, stretch-the-field tight end Rob Gronkowski and two Florida linebackers — Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes. Coach Bill Belichick, close to Florida coach Urban Meyer, has made annual treks to Gainesville. Still, the jury's out for whether Cunningham, who is moving from defensive end, will fill the Patriots' need for an impact pass rusher.


•St. Louis Rams: They have their franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, but how they support the No. 1 pick will have much to do with his success. Underrated tackle Rodger Saffold, a nice pickup at the top of Round 2, is part of the equation. Fourth-round wide receiver Mardy Gilyard brings speed and could start as a rookie on a thin roster. Two tight ends were added with midround picks. But they didn't replace D-tackle Adam Carriker.


•Philadelphia Eagles: They had an NFL-high 13 picks, and just one of the choices was an original selection. Not so typical: The Eagles didn't pick an O-lineman, breaking an Andy Reid pattern and more stunning considering how the Dallas Cowboys manhandled the front at season's end. But this was about a defense that slipped in 2009. The first five picks were used for the defense, including a first-round trade-up for end Brandon Graham and second-round pick of cover safety Nate Allen.

•Miami Dolphins: After dealing down in Round 1, the Dolphins went for two impact defenders: tackle Jared Odrick and linebacker Koa Misi, who fills a huge need with the departures of Joey Porter and Jason Taylor. The third-round pick, guard John Jerry, adds beef to the line.


•San Diego Chargers: They paid a high price for Ryan Mathews, moving up 16 spots in the first round. But they had little choice in filling the most glaring need. LaDainian Tomlinson is gone, and they needed a big-back complement to third-down type Darren Sproles. Mathews led the nation by averaging more than 150 rushing yards a game in 2009. Another need is nose tackle, which means fifth-round Cam Thomas has a chance to make a name for himself.

•Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer has a couple of new weapons in Jermaine Gresham, the draft's top-rated tight end, and likely slot receiver Jordan Shipley. In between, the Bengals nabbed defensive end Carlos Dunlap. The three solid picks addressed three needs as the Bengals let the board fall their way.

•Kansas City Chiefs: So much for general manager Scott Pioli not believing in picking safeties high. Eric Berry was tabbed at No. 5. It might suggest the Chiefs are happy with their O-line, as they passed on Okung. It might also suggest they view Berry as the next Ronnie Lott. They claimed a big-play weapon in second-round running/slot back Dexter McCluster, a small-fast-tough package.

•Cleveland Browns: Offensive guru Mike Holmgren's first Browns draft began with defense. He picked the top corner, Joe Haden, then went for hard-hitting safety T.J. Ward. Quarterback Colt McCoy fell to the Browns in the third round, who might ultimately define this class. Second-rounder Montario Hardesty fits the profile of a between-the-tackles, cold-weather back.


•New Orleans Saints: Corner Patrick Robinson is a good fit for the press coverages needed for Gregg Williams' schemes. While O-tackle Charles Brown offers good value in Round 2, they didn't address the D-line until tackle Al Woods in the fourth.

•Dallas Cowboys: They hope they've landed the next Randy Moss after moving up three slots in the first round for Dez Bryant, considered the draft's best receiver. Bryant, though, fell because of questions about his maturity. Inside linebacker Sean Lee might be a hit. But Dallas didn't draft a left tackle, increasing the odds of Flozell Adams re-signing.

•Pittsburgh Steelers: They got the top-rated center, Maurkice Pouncey, early. If history is any indication, second-round linebacker Jason Worilds will learn **** LeBeau's zone-blitz scheme as an understudy, then blossom into a star. Trading for Bryant McFadden helped, too.

•New York Giants: With linebacker McClain off the board, the Giants added more talent to the D-line. This time it's Jason Pierre-Paul, picked over Derrick Morgan. Pierre-Paul has a more athletic upside. Now he can develop gradually with spot duty. Five of the Giants' first six picks were used on defense, including a couple of midround linebackers.

•Minnesota Vikings: After trading out of the first round, they nabbed one of the draft's biggest corners in Chris Cook and college football's most productive running back last year, Toby Gerhart, who can relieve Adrian Peterson. Fourth-round end Everson Griffen slid significantly.

•Indianapolis Colts: Defensive end Jerry Hughes should be a perfect fit in the Colts' fast, undersized defense. And he can learn while adding relief for Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, rather than be counted on as an instant starter. Second-round linebacker Pat Angerer will do likewise behind Gary Brackett.

•Arizona Cardinals: They got a break when top-rated nose tackle Dan Williams fell to the bottom of the first round. They need him for their 3-4 scheme. With Karlos Dansby gone, they got good value with linebacker Darryl Washington. Third-round receiver Andre Roberts won't replace Anquan Boldin.

•Green Bay Packers: Bryan Bulaga lacks the reach desired in a prototype tackle, but he's technically sound and tough. That made him a solid pick late in the first round and a likely starter at right tackle. They bolstered the defense with lineman Mike Neal and safety Morgan Burnett.

•Atlanta Falcons: Needing linebacker help, they might have landed the most complete one in the draft in Sean Weatherspoon. They might have reached for third-round D-tackle Cory Peters before adding O-line depth with midround picks. Atlanta got value for the second-round pick it traded in Tony Gonzalez.


•Denver Broncos: Coach Josh McDaniels and GM Brian Xanders worked the trade market and settled on two No. 1's near the bottom of the round: receiver Demaryius Thomas and quarterback Tim Tebow, whose track record as a winner did little to establish him as a can't-miss prospect. Thomas, meanwhile, has raw tools. It's boom or bust on these picks.

•New York Jets: They might have found a steal in cornerback Kyle Wilson, another fast cover man to team with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Vladimir Ducasse is an intriguing prospect for the O-line. But some of the other moves are puzzling for a team that fielded the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack: Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca was released before Ducasse has proved his worth. Southern Cal's Joe McKnight was drafted, and running back Leon Washington was then traded. With fullback Jon Conner being nabbed with a fifth-round pick, is Tony Richardson next to leave?

•Buffalo Bills: The draft's most explosive player, running back C.J. Spiller, now jockeys for touches with Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. His big-play ability was undoubtedly too good to pass up. But Buffalo, with a 3-4 scheme, reached for nose tackle Torell Troupe rather than addressing its quarterback need. And the Bills didn't tap a tackle until the fifth round.

•Carolina Panthers: Jimmy Clausen, considered the draft's most NFL-ready quarterback, fell to them in the second round. Good value. And instant competition for Matt Moore, who figured to replace departed Jake Delhomme. Maybe Clausen will be a long-term answer, though it's uncertain if GM Marty Hurney and coach John Fox — each in the final year of his contract — will be the beneficiaries. And why did Carolina trade a second-round pick in 2011? For a third-round choice used on Appalachian State receiver Armanti Edwards.

•Houston Texans: They passed on Kyle Wilson to take cornerback Kareem Jackson. He may be the draft's most physical corner, similar to Dunta Robinson, whom the Texans lost in free agency. Maybe running back Ben Tate will ease tension at that critical position. With Owen Daniels recovering from a torn knee ligament, Houston picked two tight ends, Garett Graham and receiver-like Dorin Dickerson.

•Chicago Bears: Having traded away picks in trades for Jay Cutler and the late Gaines Adams, they didn't select until the 75th slot. Their grade is skewed accordingly. Still, in safety Major Wright, they added a playmaker to a defense that has received significant offseason attention. Keep an eye on sixth-round quarterback Dan LeFevour.

•Tennessee Titans: The Titans scored in landing the rush end they needed with Derrick Morgan, considered the most complete defensive end in the draft. Third-round receiver Damion Williams represents value. But in dumping running back LenDale White and D-tackle Kevin Vickers, the Titans moved up seven and nine slots, respectively, in the fourth and sixth rounds for defensive back Alterraun Verner and quarterback Rusty Smith.

•Washington Redskins: Their second-round pick was Donovan McNabb, the veteran quarterback who can drive Mike Shanahan's offense … if the line is working. Washington took its left tackle of the present and future in Trent Williams, whose athleticism gave him the nod over Okung and fits better with the Redskins' zone-blocking schemes. They went 1-for-2 in dealing disgruntled players, finding a home for Campbell, the former starting quarterback, but not Haynesworth.


•Jacksonville Jaguars: The draft's first shocker came with the selection of defensive tackle Tyson Alualu in the 10th spot overall. A reach. At least he's a trendsetter. The Jags used each of their first four picks on defensive linemen. Jacksonville had 14 sacks last season.

a behind the scenes look at the rams draft process in the #1 overall selection...

excerpted quote about bradford... "He's the best quarterback to come out since Peyton [Manning]," general manager Tom Heckert said via text.


Ridin' Road to No. 1 With Rams Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo

4/26/2010 11:30 AM ET By Anthony L. Gargano

ST. LOUIS -- The day that would shape the man's future moved mercifully toward finality as he dashed from the darkened team headquarters through the steady spring rain to his SUV in the parking spot labeled "Head Coach". Following months of torturous deliberation that sent him and the staff cross country and back, sifting through endless possibilities in the name of due diligence, they had made their decision.

Nothing left to do now but embrace hope and kiss it up to the fates.

Entranced by a lonely, wet highway and the rhythmic movement and hum of overworking windshield wipers, the man momentarily slipped into reflective thought midway into his 40-minute drive home to the city. He didn't appear to notice the muffled radio program in the background that talked of the night's events -- quite enthusiastically, by the way. He figured the town would happily comply with their selection, and that was always welcome, given the importance of public opinion to the industry.

Still, though, the fickle nature of it meant that if somehow the 22-year-old quarterback who played two games and change last year didn't become the franchise as planned for the St. Louis Rams, everyone would forget how they felt at this moment and call ingloriously for his hide.

The man could handle the torchbearers. The notion of failure, he couldn't stomach that. He didn't sacrifice his life for the coaching calling to lose. Without kin in the game, he landed his own sprawling office with the two desks -- one for the many business details of coaching football in the NFL, the other stationed in front of a large flat screen for the "fun stuff," the actual football element, film study and game-planning -- on the second floor of Rams Park by working rungs, beginning way back in 1983.

Graduate assistant at Massachusetts. Intern with the Redskins. Defensive line and special teams coach at Lafayette. Defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator at Connecticut, before the Huskies' ascent to the Big East. Special teams and defensive line coach for the Barcelona Dragons. Scout for the Chargers. Defensive backs and linebackers coach and defensive coordinator at Maine. Defensive backs coach at Rutgers. Defensive backs coach at Bowling Green. Linebackers coach and defensive coordinator for the Frankfurt Galaxy. Defensive assistant for the Eagles.

In 2001, he rose to defensive backs coach for the Eagles. Then linebackers coach in 2004. Then defensive coordinator for the Giants in 2007. Buoyed by his unit, the Giants won the Super Bowl that year. He rebuffed head-coaching offers that offseason, and stuck around one more season, out of loyalty and the handsome raise that amounted into the first real money he earned in 25 years in the business.

He looks like a football coach, the way Tony La Russa looks like a baseball manager, square-jawed and athletically fit, built to lead larger men. From central Massachusetts, New England intransigence led him right here, with midnight closing on Missouri. Just then, the man's cell phone that lay on the armrest sprung to life and lit up the interior of the truck. The name of the caller read clearly in all caps on the small screen.


"Sam!" he answered, warmly. "How you feeling buddy?"

The man held a half-smile, the kind worn by a proud elder, and nodded steadily at the caller's response.

"Good, good. You're with the family celebrating? Good, good. Good to hear."


"About time you called your coach back."

The man grinned.

(Upon saying goodbye, he explained that he had texted Bradford three hours prior and Bradford was just getting back to him now, and thus, the subtle dig. It's never too early, you see, to establish parameters.)

"OK buddy, we'll see you tomorrow (Friday)," the man said. "Everything set with your flight? Let's get you out of here Saturday and back home with your family. I want you to relax. I want a well-rested quarterback for when you come back Thursday."

Thursday, exactly one week from this night and the first round of the NFL's first prime-time draft, will mark the Rams' first mini-camp of the offseason. The first football of 2010.

And when Steve Spagnuolo's future will begin.

He'll be, he says, on the clock. Nobody much counted last season. It seemed a miracle they won the one game in Detroit. They were seriously outmanned, as expected. The Rams fell hard after those two Super Bowl appearances around the turn of the century. They haven't had a winning season since 2003. The team Spagnuolo inherited won five games total in two years, and incredibly, was aging in all the wrong places.

Billy Devaney, a Jersey Shore guy, who established a good football name on the opposite coast with the famed Bobby Beathard and the San Diego Chargers, became the Rams general manager in December 2008, and the first business he did a month later was sell the highly coveted Spagnuolo on St. Louis. They knew they had a complete tear-down on their hands. Still do. The league cycle says it takes at least two years to completely gut a roster from a team in that kind of disrepair.

And this brings us to the story of how the Rams settled on Sam Bradford.


Rough going

On January 3, 2010, at a desultory, three-quarter-filled Edward Jones Dome, which resulted in the third consecutive home television blackout in St. Louis, the young, nameless Rams played their season finale against the San Francisco 49ers without self-pity. They even led at halftime, 3-0, and trailed only 7-6 in the fourth quarter, before falling 28-6, thankfully, mind you, for the greater good of the franchise.

The game that signaled just how dated now was the Greatest Show on Turf, in which Rams quarterbacks -- one by the name of Keith Null -- managed 22 net yards passing, and Isaac Bruce received the largest ovation because of his ceremonial start for the Niners. The loss secured the top pick in the draft for St. Louis.

Only once, usually, does a regime pocket such offseason gold without consequence, and so, rich with hope, Devaney and Spagnuolo immediately began plotting the strategy. By this point, the candidates for No. 1 had already materialized.

Everyone knew how dominant Ndamukong Suh was, the beast in the middle of the Nebraska defensive line and perhaps surest thing of all the prospects. Then there were two Sooners, including the second-best defensive player: Gerald McCoy, also a tackle, seemed almost as sure a bet as Warren Sapp; and Trent Williams, the seriously athletic blindside tackle for Bradford, deemed consideration. So, too, did Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung.

But the clear aim of this offseason for the Rams was finding a quarterback to replace Marc Bulger, whether through the draft or free agency -- and preferably The One. That's what franchise quarterbacks are called nowadays in the league, and the romantic sense applies if you want to hug that trophy.

Even Spagnuolo, the one responsible for grounding the Patriots' super offense in 2007, a coach who reveres the bedrock principles of this game, however five-wide-less boring, built on defense and running the football, deems quarterback the first get in a franchise makeover.

"It's a quarterback league," he said.

Enter the crop of 2010: Bradford, Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame, Tim Tebow of Florida and Colt McCoy of Texas.

"We really had to look at those quarterbacks way early, before free agency," Spagnuolo said. "We had to decide whether any of them could be a franchise quarterback. If we decided they couldn't, we probably would have been more aggressive in free agency."

The Rams had plenty of options. Jake Delhomme, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman and Charlie Whitehurst were all available at some point.

"At the time, we liked both Bradford and Clausen, with Colt hanging in there," Spagnuolo said. "So we didn't have to necessarily jump out and get a quarterback. The deeper we got into the process, the more it seemed like Sam could be a viable option."


The Process

Away from Lucas Oil Stadium and all of the drills and Under Armour, the NFL Combine in Indianapolis feels like any other recruiting conference, especially in the evening at the nearby Holiday Inn Express on South Missouri Street. It's here that the top talent eligible for the draft stay on the second, third and fourth floors and meet potential suitors for the first time, barring a brief encounter at the Senior Bowl. Each team in the league takes a room on the first floor of the hotel and conducts rounds of nightly interview sessions with players that last from 6 p.m. to sometime after 10.

At the beginning of the combine, each player receives a schedule card marking team, time and day. Teams are allowed to interview a maximum of 60 players for the entire Combine, and the sessions are tightly orchestrated. The interviews last exactly 15 minutes, with a practice horn used to designate a "two-minute warning." By a second practice horn, players must be out of the designated room.

The league moved to structure the interview process because it used to be a free-for-all in the atrium, with agents, team officials and players milling about, and scouts pulling various players inside a team room for an interview that often lasted close to 30 minutes.

The sessions provide the first peek into a player's character, as well as his level of understanding from a technical standpoint. Most teams begin with a generic line of questioning before becoming more specific.

What is your goal?

"Just to be drafted in the NFL," a player may respond.

Then what? After you get drafted, what motivates you?

Some might answer, "To become starter, make the Pro Bowl, then the Hall of Fame."

That's nice. But what about the team?

One personnel man recalled that Suh talked at length about creating his own engineering firm.

"Suh was very bright," he said. "He had a lot of stuff going on outside football. It sounds strange but sometimes that's a negative."

That's a positive-negative. If a player has a blight on his record, teams will question him as though he's on the witness stand.

Did you ever get in trouble? No? Well, it says right here that you did. What happened? Why did you do that? What were you thinking right then and there? Tell me what happened again?

"It's a mind-boggling process," remarked quarterback Kevin Kolb (right), the new Eagles starting quarterback who was drafted with the 36th overall pick in 2007. "One night, I had 11 meetings in a row with different teams. Forty-five seconds between each one.

"Man, it's pretty ruthless. GM. Coach. Offensive coordinator. Sometimes the owner. They're firing questions at you. Say you're a guy who transferred, they'll poke at those points. Why did you transfer? Why did you give up? Why did you let that other guy get beat you?"

Kolb recalled his session with the Lions. One of the coaches said to him, "You've been a Texas boy your whole life, how would you adjust to the cold weather in Detroit?"

He paused.

"Not to be a smart ### or anything, sir," he said, "but don't y'all play in a dome?"

On February 27, with a video camera recording each session, the Rams began the interview process for No. 1 (and the rest of their draft), paying special attention to the quarterbacks, Bradford, Clausen, McCoy and Tebow.

They showed each player five or six plays of varying success, each of the plays involving the players themselves, and asked them to dissect the tape.

"All four of those kids knew what they were doing," Spagnuolo said. "Tebow took the lead [during the session]. He grabbed the remote, sat up in the seat, elbows on his knees, and could tell you everyone on the field. What they were doing. What their responsibility. He really has a special aura about him. He could have stayed there all night."

McCoy, meanwhile, came across as a gentleman. He texted back Spagnuolo following his meeting, "Thanks for the opportunity to meet with you, coach. We can win a lot of games together."

McCoy was a winner, Spagnuolo thought. He could see him in the league, a game manager, steady, making the right decisions.

However, one player took the early lead in the process. But St. Louis still had to watch him throw. How was that player's injured shoulder? Was it fully healed? Did it affect his motion?


From Heisman to Hurtin' and Back

On a chilly day in the middle of March, Sam Bradford was down in Pensacola, Fla., throwing the football, trying to overcome the injury that cut short his senior season at Oklahoma and summoned all of the second-guessers who said he should have entered the draft the previous year.

He threw effortlessly, with zip and accuracy, the way he did before he sprained the AC joint in his shoulder that night against BYU.

"The ball was coming out quick," he said. "My arm strength felt good. After I went through that workout, I called one of my friends and I was like, 'I think I'm back.' It felt like a normal shoulder."

Nearly two weeks later, on March 29, representatives from teams across the NFL, including Devaney and Spagnuolo, trekked to Norman, Okla., to watch Bradford complete all 65 passes he attempted during a pro-day workout. Working with skill players who were once his Sooner teammates, under the guidance of Terry Shea, the consultant to draftees who will build pro days, Bradford threw short slants, medium outs, long balls, flare-outs to the backs, from under center and out of the shotgun, all on air (no defenders).

"We all wanted to see if he was healthy and he threw the hell out of it," Spagnuolo said. "That got the ball rolling."

The Rams' coach was in great demand that day from reporters in attendance. Everyone wanted to know what he thought of Bradford. At the end of the workout, Spagnuolo slid out a back entrance and stumbled into Bradford's coach at Putnam City North High School in Oklahoma City, Bob Wilson.

"How proud he was," Spagnuolo said, "watching his former student in front all those cameras. We talked about Sam. I learned some more about him."

Devaney and Spagnuolo also attended the pro days for Clausen, Suh, McCoy and Williams during the month of March, mostly out of design. Smokescreen. While they had focused on Bradford, they wanted to keep trade possibilities open for No. 1, especially if Detroit or Tampa coveted the tackles enough to make a deal and they could still land their man.

"Every workout we went to," Devaney said then, "it's like a beauty contest. You go out to see Suh -- 'Oh, my, I love this guy.' McCoy's workout, same thing. And Bradford was no different. We spent a lot of time with him and we asked him a lot of questions. But we did so with those other kids, too. We've been saying we're open [to a trade] and we remain open. There isn't anything close to being done. We have a little time. We're going to keep on talking and see what happens."

Devaney explained coolly that you attend each pro day "because it's the first pick in the draft; it's a lot of money. You want to make sure it's the right guy. You want to be sure that the person you see now will be the same person four of five months from now."

"Maybe we're just screwed up," he said. "But we feel excited about [having the choice]. We know whichever way we go, we're gonna get a great player. I think we're on top of this. I see our team getting better and that excites me. I don't know. Maybe I should feel more pressure but I don't."

It is during this time, when March bleeds into April, that the poker game begins before every draft. Everyone is talking. Coaches and general managers and agents all work each other and the media to pass their agenda in what feels like international politics.

The days leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft were filled with hot rumors and news stories of imminent trades that mysteriously never materialized. One report out of Philadelphia had the Rams trading for McNabb by the end of that work day, exploiting the relationship between Spagnuolo, Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and the Eagles.

Was the story a plant? Were the Eagles using the Rams to show their willingness to move their own franchise quarterback and thus increase his trade value?

The Rams, in fact, denied even entertaining the idea of acquiring McNabb, especially in the rumored trade that involved the first pick of the second round and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, a player whom the Rams deem a secondary cornerstone. Thinking back, why would they? A quarterback in the back end of his prime certainly does not intersect with a team in the middle of rebuilding.

The tip that the Rams were plucking their quarterback from the draft should have came when they signed veteran backup A.J. Feeley -- a nod to Andy Reid's model in Philadelphia that worked well. He tabbed veteran Doug Pederson to help usher McNabb into the NFL during his rookie season in 1999.

Meanwhile, a handful of other teams lusted after Bradford. One NFC team, in fact, in an attempt to scare the Rams off him, tried to float a false rumor that Bradford didn't really want to play in St. Louis, and also added that he might have bad knees.

The Rams let it be known that they were unafraid to take Bradford, a truthful notion, especially after his visit to St. Louis the Friday before the draft. One last check to make sure the shoulder hadn't flared up.

The Browns were one team that made no secret of their interest in Bradford.

"He's the best quarterback to come out since Peyton [Manning]," general manager Tom Heckert said via text.

Browns president Mike Holmgren openly spoke about Bradford and the possibility of dealing for him. But in the end, talks never progressed to the point where Cleveland made a concrete offer. Mostly, it was a trade dance, with the Browns asking the Rams what they would want in exchange for the pick and the Rams shrugging, "What do you want to give up?"

In the end, Devaney said the Rams received no real offers.

Fifteen minutes before the draft, Holmgren called Devaney and asked, "Anything change?"

"Nah," Devaney told him.


And the decision is...

In New York City, Bradford wished away the day in Central Park, knowing for sure now that he had not made a mistake by going to back to Oklahoma. He said all the right things later that night in a conference call with reporters from his new city, about how the injury was a backwards blessing, presenting him a new vantage point to the game, allowing him to become a cerebral quarterback. How he ultimately matured from the ordeal.

But he knew, deep down, where he was going when he stepped on to that red carpet at Radio City Music Hall and stood among the greats of the game, before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced, "The Rams are on the clock."

At the very same time at The Pageant in St. Louis, Kurt Warner and legendary coach **** Vermeil gathered in their town of glory at an event entitled, "A Night with Champions."

The past crept into the night that will define the man's future.

Back in the SUV, late that night, Steve Spagnuolo said above the wheeze of windshield wipers, "I'm excited. I just hope 12 months from now, we hit it right and got the right guy. I told Sam today, 'You realize from now on, you and I are tied at the hip?' "

And Sam Bradford replied, "Yes, coach, absolutely."

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already reported in cowboys thread...

sounds increasingly like STL & DAL will trade alex barron & bobby carpenter, possibly as soon as friday (barron needs to sign his tender)... barron had no future in STL (took saffold with 2.1) but could fill DAL need for a swing tackle formerly filled by free before being promoted with flozell cut... carpenter didn't have much future in DAL (even more so with selection of sean lee), but could be a better fit in a 4-3, fill a gaping hole at WLB for STL, and be reunited with laurinaitis (both went to ohio state)... this looks like a trade that should help both teams, as well as maybe benefit the players with a change of scenery... barron was 1.19 in 2005, carpenter 1.18 in 2006, so similar pedigree and age...


in other news... the rams picked up former bears SS/FS kevin payne relatively cheaply recently... it is unclear if this has any implications for atogwe rejoining the team, since both payne and 2009 free agent safety james butler (who spags recruited from their stint together with the giants) are probably better fits at SS? if atogwe does return, it helps their depth in the deep secondary... 3.1 pick jerome murphy will help depth at CB, and could have starter upside...

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I think Carpenter would fit well at WLB. He's speedy, good in coverage and pursuit, high motor, solid tackler. I'd do this in a heartbeat.

However, as a Romo owner in many leagues, I don't know if I want Mr. False Start on my OL. :mellow:

lucid description/explanation of the thorny issues involved wih atogwe's contract situation (which could be coming to a head sometime after june 1)...

BTW, i'm going to go out on a limb and say i think gilyard is going to be really good (esecially when bradford gets acclimated to the NFL)... he should play in the slot immediately, and could have the talent to eventually start, possibly with avery...


Potential option for Oshiomogho Atogwe

May, 23, 2010 May 23 8:25AM

Mike Sando

John Clayton's mailbag included a note about the Lions' potentially having interest in Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe.

Clayton: Who says the Lions won't become involved? I think they could, but there's no need for them to tip their hand now. On June 1, Atogwe's restricted tender would rise to the franchise level (nearly $7 million), and it seems unlikely the Rams will keep him at that price. Like it or not, the Lions have been one of the most aggressive teams in picking up veteran players, and Atogwe would be a good, young player to acquire. I think they will be in the hunt.

Ideally, the Rams already would have signed Atogwe, one of their best defensive players, to a long-term contract reflecting his status as a very good player. Several factors have worked against that happening:

The Rams named Atogwe their franchise player last offseason, defining his value at $6.3 million. The effect was to define Atogwe as an elite safety even though Atogwe has never been to a Pro Bowl.

Atogwe's first season under the new coaching staff wasn't particularly strong and it ended poorly. A shoulder injury landed Atogwe on injured reserve. He also underwent hernia surgery.

The Rams' ownership situation remained unsettled, affecting budgetary flexibility.

The lack of a new collective bargaining agreement triggered punitive measures for the NFL and its players. Atogwe became only a restricted free agent in 2010. The Rams' primary choices were to offer him a one-year deal for $1.226 million or a one-year deal for 110 percent of his 2009 salary (more than $6.9 million).

When the Rams chose the $1.226 million level, they risked damaging their relationship with Atogwe, whose value should have been higher.

Atogwe becomes a free agent if the Rams fail to increase the $1.226 million offer into the $6.9 million range by June 1. Those extremes made it tougher to find middle ground.

The Rams still have time to reach a long-term deal with Atogwe, but the factors listed above make it tougher to establish Atogwe's value.

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I think Atogwe is overrated. The Rams played this right. The guy's only good quality is his ability to tomohawk the ball and to pick off jump balls. He is miserable in defending the run and has no idea how to take the correct receiver. Just a very average player.

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I think Atogwe is overrated. The Rams played this right. The guy's only good quality is his ability to tomohawk the ball and to pick off jump balls. He is miserable in defending the run and has no idea how to take the correct defender. Just a very average player.
Very average player that the Rams could not afford to lose. A telling sign.
I think Atogwe is overrated. The Rams played this right. The guy's only good quality is his ability to tomohawk the ball and to pick off jump balls. He is miserable in defending the run and has no idea how to take the correct defender. Just a very average player.
Very average player that the Rams could not afford to lose. A telling sign.
Yeah. The money he was wanting was insane and anything close will be a huge overpayment in my opinion. To be honest though, that defense really only has maybe 4 starting caliber defenders. Long, Lauranitis, Bartell, and Atogwe. I just don't see how they can afford to take the approach at hiring players that they do. The 4 pillars thing is a nice concept if you are New England but the Rams can't afford to pick and choose. I like Spags a lot, but the Rams management has to be amongst the 5 worst in all of sports.
He may be slightly overrated, but they got him at a fair price (from what I hear at the link below, comparable to the Nick Collins deal) and is both starter-quality and a playmaker, two things that the Rams defense needs desperately.

You also have to appreciate the mess that the current management inherited, and look at the steps they've taken. This post on my favorite Rams blog is very insightful:


Rams homers - any news on development of Gilyard? Which wr's on Rams roster are best prospects for dynasty format with ppr scoring?

Hoot&HoLLer said:
Rams homers - any news on development of Gilyard? Which wr's on Rams roster are best prospects for dynasty format with ppr scoring?
avery and robinson the expected starters... opinion is divided on who is WR1 & WR2... robinson put up good stats in first two games, but than was put on IR... avery wasn't exactly a picture of health last year, but has reportedly put on 10-15 lbs. in offseason, with the hope of becoming more durable... whoever starts could/should have upside if bradford is as good as advertised, but that may not be felt in a big way in 2010 (you did ask about dynasty)... if either or both falters (or is injured), waiting in the wings this year are WRs like brandon gibson & brooks foster (and gilyard)...i like avery best in dynasty, but it is possible that both starters could do well... i think HC spags could be somewhat conservative, so they may not sling it around the field as much as manning, brees, rodgers, romo, rivers, et al... but why get a #1 overall QB like bradford to just throw a few times a game? they brought former PHI QB coach shurmur to be the OC, so the hope is they can emulate that kind of west coast offense...gilyard didn't get to do much in OTAs due to the college graduation date rules... he could push for the slot WR this year, and longer term, may have the talent to start on the outside in a year or two... his film was imo impressive... ability to get deep and dynamic RAC skills...depending on how they do in 2010, assuming they have a high pick in 2011 (if they win 3-5 games?), they could be in position to draft a WR from what should be a good class (green, jones, etc), in the 1st or 2nd... you can make a case that DE (opposite long) & WR are two biggest needs (also, again, depending on how bartell, fletcher & murphy look -CB could be a need... and of course, a backup RB to spell jackson and be groomed as heir apparent... and a receiving TE could be on the wish list - though raw fendi onobun is an intriguing developmental prospect)...
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I would say that right now Avery is the WR to own in dynasty, but I wouldn't be scrambling to get him or anything. If Bradford ever turns this offense into a respectable force, I don't think his favorite WR is on the team yet. Danario Alexander is coming in for a visit this week, and really I don't see how the Rams wouldn't take a chance on him unless they decide his knees are complete toast. If he signs keep an eye on him.

How does the Rams offensive line look this season?
sadly, it is still a question mark despite large investments in recent years (both in draft picks and free agent capital)... this is partly due to the fact that the biggest question marks, bookend OTs smith and saffold, are inexperienced and unproven... they seem to have had a lot of injuries the past few years (ironic, given how little they were actually on the field, given all the three and outs), exposing poor depth, and should have upside if they can avoid the training room for a change... LT - jason smith... 2nd overall pick in 2009... physical specimen and athletic phenom, outstanding speed/strength measurables for the position, was raw not coming from a big time program (baylor?), i don't think he even lined up with his hand on the ground in college... it was disappointing that he only moved to LT from RT later in the year (alex barron, one of a legion of 1st round busts since the super bowl years, traded to DAL for WLB carpenter in offseason)... he didn't have a joe thomas, jake long, ryan clady-type rookie season... he was hurt a few times, so maybe durability is now a concern... seemed to come on before a concussion knocked him out for the season... needs to be coached up and has a lot of work to do in terms of becoming more technically proficient/sound in pass protection... has the attitude, intensity and explosiveness to be a nasty run blocker (flashed at times last year)... said to be mature, professional and very coachable... if he reaches his formidable potential (and pedigree/contract), fills a big positional hole ever since HoF caliber pace crashed and burned... LG - jacob bell... has also been banged up, was a disappointment in 2008 as a free agent, played better last year when healthy... unclear if he is better than average, he isn't a star, rams seem to have overpaid for him... if he was between roos and mawae at one point in TEN, he may have looked better than he was/is (though he is easily the best OG they have, so he serves a role)... on an OL with a mix of youth and experience, his experience is important.C - jason brown... good free agent acquisition last year (about 26-27)... maybe the top interior OL in class of '09... viewed as a coup for STL at the time, as top free agents haven't exactly been breaking the rams door down in recent years... nice size, adequate athleticism, power, feet quickness... pretty good technician, good character, work ethic, professionalism, leadership, intangibles... likely their best OL now (smith highest upside)... probably not a top 5 center, arguably top 10... RG - ? there are about three candidates (incognito released and now in MIA)... including former college OT john greco (hasn't excelled when pressed into action) and 2010 free agent hank fraley (may be more of a swing backup interior OL at guard and center, should improve depth at least - could start)... this position could be the weak link on the OL (even with a rookie projected to start at RT)... RT - roger saffold... LTs (or potential ones) tend to get pushed up in the draft, some mocks had saffold and charles brown going in the 1st round... as it turned out, both went in the second (saffold just missing first, brown nearly falling to third)... i read somewhere that the bookend OTs aren't locked into their positions, but have to think they want smith to play LT, since he is making LT money... the little i have seen of him was during the draft coverage... good size (athletic enough that some teams viewed him as a LT prospect)... lot of experience at indiana, i don't think he gave up many sacks over his career, despite usually being outmatched against better teams ini the Big 10... some people who broke down games noted that fast, athletic DEs seemed to give him trouble (could be said about most young RTs)... a concern is that he graded out as a lower prospect until surging up during the pre-draft process... on a right side that is questionable, he is understandably the biggest question mark... like some of the other OL, said to have good character, maturity, intangibles... the rams need smith and saffold to hold up, because they are entrusted with protecting 2010 #1 overall pick & franchise QB bradford... realistically, even if they develop, they probably will be better in 2011 & 2012 than this year... in time, the OL hopefully becomes a strength...OL is a position that greatly benefits from familarity, coordination, etc... which has been hurt by injuries and myriad lineup changes... just staying healthy could help a lot towards this... if this materializes/transpires, i am cautiously optimistic that they will make strides towards being a more functional unit this year (and more confident in their run blocking potential)... keeping fingers crossed they can keep bradford upright (maybe they use max protect at times, chip DEs with a RB, etc)... since they have steven jackson, hopefully play action will be effective... OC shurmur can also design more quick hitting, high % pass plays, taking advantage of bradford's exceptional field vision, decision making and quick release...
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Training Camp Preview: Offense/Wagoner


By Nick Wagoner

Senior Writer

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

With training camp set to begin, there will be plenty of position battles and intense competitions for roster and starting spots.

Today, we take a look at the offense, which players will be in the competition and how those battles might form in the next month or so.


THE ROSTER: A.J. Feeley, Sam Bradford, Keith Null, Thaddeus Lewis

In what is shaping up as perhaps the most interesting battle of training camp, the Rams have plenty of options in selecting a signal caller for the 2010 season.

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has maintained all along that if the season started today, Feeley would be the starting quarterback. But the season doesn’t start today, it starts in Sept. 12.

Between now and then, Feeley, No. 1 pick Bradford and Null are expected to wage a competition that will ultimately yield a starter.

Despite his lofty draft status, nothing will be guaranteed to Bradford when he arrives for camp.

“You know, (it’s) no different than any other position,” Spagnuolo said. “Be better than the guys at his spot, and you become the starter. That’s kind of a slam dunk. Let’s not forget about Keith Null. He played some games for us last year, and I think he’s come a long way, now. If you beat out the guys at your position, you end up being the starter.”

Nobody with the Rams is disputing that the job will be Bradford’s at some point or another but it’s what happens during this camp that will determine whether that happens sooner than later.

Also keep an eye on Lewis, who flashed potential in the spring and could battle Null for the third spot on the depth chart.

Running Back

THE ROSTER: Steven Jackson, Kenneth Darby, Chris Ogbonnaya, Keith Toston, Jamie McCoy, Mike Karney (F, Eric Butler (F

The best news of all could be the healthy return of Jackson, who remains the centerpiece of the Rams offense heading into 2010. He has recovered from offseason back surgery and been cleared to play at the outset of camp.

Still, Jackson is likely to be limited and Spagnuolo says he the proper precautions will be taken to ensure he is at full strength when the regular season begins.

“I don’t think that will change,” Spagnuolo said. “We want to get him ready. He wants to go, and he wants to be ready. We’ll have him ready for the opening game, but if you’re talking about the pre-season game, we’ll be smart about it.”

Assuming Jackson is limited, there will be plenty of opportunities for someone or a few someones to emerge as his backups. Darby has the experience and will get his chances but Ogbonnaya could also get a longer look than he did last year.

Toston and McCoy also figure to benefit and get every opportunity to earn a possible backup job.

At fullback, Karney is the incumbent and will get competition from Butler, who moved over from tight end in the offseason.

Wide Receiver

THE ROSTER: Danny Amendola, Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Dominique Curry, Brooks Foster, Brandon Gibson, Mardy Gilyard, Jordan Kent, Brandon McRae, Laurent Robinson

In terms of sheer numbers, there might not be a competition on the roster that holds as many questions to be answered as wideout.

The group is decidedly youthful and it would appear that a number of jobs could be up for grabs for the players who make the most plays.

“I think there are a lot of guys out there that are going to be battling for… I want to say we kept five wide receivers last year,” Spagnuolo said. “We feel like we’ve got some… there’s going to be some tough decisions to make there at wide receiver. Any time you’ve got competition I think it elevates the play of that particular position.”

Avery and Burton are the elder statesmen of a group that is among the youngest in the league. Avery added weight in the offseason and enter camp in perhaps the best shape of his young career.

Robinson was on the verge of a breakout last season before an injury ended his season early. He returns at full strength and should figure prominently in 2010.

Amendola, Gibson and Burton each showed potential in the latter stages of the 2009 season and will be right in the thick of the competition.

Foster missed his rookie season with an injury but had an excellent offseason and is ready to make a statement in this camp.

Gilyard was the team’s fourth round pick and brings return skills to the table as well. He’ll likely take turns with Amendola in those roles throughout camp.

Kent also brings a good amount of special teams aptitude, fitting in nicely on coverage units and providing a big target in the passing game.

Curry and McRae are undrafted free agents but both had impressive moments in O.T.A.’s and could surprise.

All told, the Rams will likely keep five or possibly even six receivers and those that show the most play making skills combined with special teams ability figure to win out in the end.

Tight End

THE ROSTER: Billy Bajema, Daniel Fells, Michael Hoomanawanui, Darcy Johnson, Fendi Onobun

Considering some of the more high profile position battles expected to ensue in the coming months, one that seems to be regularly overlooked is tight end.

The Rams re-signed Fells after allowing incumbent starter Randy McMichael to leave via free agency. But Fells missed the offseason program as he recovered from a late season surgery.

Fells’ absence opened up plenty of opportunity for the Rams newest additions, drafted rookies Hoomanawanui and Onobun, free agent Johnson and returning veteran Bajema to make a difference.

All of those players took advantage of their given chances, creating what offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur calls an open competition for jobs, including the starting gig.

“I think (it is),” Shurmur said. “Mike and Fendi did a nice job in the spring. They got a bunch of reps and I think they benefited from the fact that the group was smaller. Darcy did a nice job and Billy is a really steady guy. I guess you could say that about all of our positions on offense but there is a lot to be determined there. I think Danny coming back and being healthy and performing well in training camp is going to be important for him.”

One way that should ensure their ability to stand out is to block well. Bajema is considered the blocking specialist but the Rams will put the pads on for the first time in this camp so it will be vital to each player to show some blocking prowess in pass protection and the running game.

Offensive Line

THE ROSTER: Roger Allen III, Jacob Bell, Jason Brown, Hank Fraley, Joe Gibbs, Adam Goldberg, John Greco, Mark Lewis, Ryan McKee, Drew Miller, Rodger Saffold, Jason Smith, Phil Trautwein, Eric Young

While competition will be plentiful up front, it appears that things are going to be quite settled with the top offensive line heading into camp.

Although things could change, it’s likely the Rams will enter the preseason with Smith at left tackle, Bell at left guard, Brown at center, Goldberg at right guard and Saffold at right tackle.

Smith, Bell and Saffold are coming back from injuries but have been cleared to participate though the amount of work they do in the early stages of camp is yet to be determined.

Because of the nature of the offensive line and the importance of working together and jelling, the Rams would prefer to get their guys in place and give them time to grow together as soon as possible.

“I think they are young and talented,” Shurmur said. “We are excited about what these guys can do. They have fresh legs and they are really good players. We anticipate they will be very productive for a long time.”

Beyond that five, the Rams figure to have some heated battles for backup jobs and as always, versatility will be the key.

At tackle, Trautwein and McKee have showed potential in their short time with the team. Young and Miller will also be in the mix.

On the interior, the Rams brought in valuable veteran Fraley, who is capable of playing both guard and center. He’s likely to serve as one of the top backups at both spots.

Allen and Greco also provide big, strong options and will get their share of opportunities. Lewis and Gibbs provide more depth.

Place Kicker

THE ROSTER: Josh Brown

There will be no competition for Brown, who is entering his third season in St. Louis and remains one of the game’s most powerful legs.

In 2009, Brown booted six field goals from 50 yards or further and showed no signs of slowing.


Training Camp Preview: Defense/Wagoner


By Nick Wagoner

Senior Writer

Thursday, July 29, 2010

With training camp set to begin, there will be plenty of position battles and intense competitions for roster and starting spots.

Today, we take a look at the defense, which players will be in the competition and how those battles might form in the next month or so.

Defensive Line

THE ROSTER: Victor Adeyanju, C.J. Ah You, Jermelle Cudjo, Hall Davis, Gary Gibson, James Hall, Chris Hovan, Chris Long, Fred Robbins, Clifton Ryan, Darell Scott, George Selvie, Eugene Sims.

Perhaps no group on the team underwent more change during the offseason as the defensive line. Aside from re-signing Hall, the Rams were very active in adding new faces both inside and out.

Hall will be bookended on the other side by Long, who is expected to move to the left side for the first time in his career. Long finished 2009 with a flourish and appears poised for a breakout season, says defensive coordinator Ken Flajole said.

“I think he has shown great improvement from last year to now and I do expect him to be a very productive defensive end,” Flajole said. “The thing that I’ve been very pleased with from Chris, is you know, a lot of times, being defensive ends, into this league and they fancy themselves as pass rushers and then you have to convince them that they still have to be able to play the run. He has embraced that he has been a very good run play for us. He’s improved and we know he’s got the physical skills to be a great pass rusher so I expect Chris to be more of an all around player and I expect him to be more noticeable.”

The always steady and versatile Adeyanju also returns to provide depth and Ah You is recovering from a knee injury that shortened his chance at a breakout last year.

Beyond that quartet, the Rams used a trio of late-round selections on ends in hopes that at least one will emerge as a pass rushing force. Davis, Sims and Selvie come from varying backgrounds but all were drafted with the intent to get more pressure on the quarterback.

The X factor could be Leonard Little who has yet to decide whether to retire or return this season. Coach Steve Spagnuolo has said that’s an option the Rams will keep open because of Little’s meaning to the team in his first season.

“Well that’s always an ongoing discussion,” Spagnuolo said. “We’ve drafted a couple of young defensive ends. Right now certainly having Leonard, there’s never anything wrong with having a seasoned veteran like him. He brought a lot to our football team last year but that’s something I’m going to let the management handle.”

While the Rams certainly got younger at end over the course of the offseason, they added mostly experienced veterans on the inside.

The Rams went out and signed accomplished veterans Robbins and Hovan to add to the rotation in the middle. Ryan is expected to return at nose tackle and Robbins is the odds on favorite to line up next to him.

Beyond that, there should be some good competition. Hovan has a long history of playing good football in the NFL and Scott came on strong at the end of the 2009 season.

Gibson had won a starting job before an injury ended his season prematurely. Undrafted rookie Cudjo is stout and strong in the middle and could push for a potential spot.

There’s no denying Spagnuolo likes having a full complement of defensive linemen, even with a couple of additional options so look for a large contingent from this group to emerge on the final 53.


THE ROSTER: Bobby Carpenter, Chris Chamberlain, Na’il Diggs, Dominic Douglas, Larry Grant, Josh Hull, Cardia Jackson, James Laurinaitis, David Vobora.

By now, everybody knows about the decided Ohio State flavor of the Rams’ linebacking corps. That was buoyed by the offseason additions of Carpenter (via trade with Dallas) and grizzled veteran Diggs.

Carpenter and Diggs are expected to step in right away as starters flanking burgeoning second-year star Laurinaitis.

Laurinaitis had a big rookie season and even more is expected of him entering year two.

“We’re counting on him,” Flajole said. “He’s been a great addition. We put a lot of management skills on him. We expect a lot from him. He knows it and the thing I just love about the guy is that he works at it. He’ll be better this year than he was a year ago. We need him to be. He’ll work at it and that’s all we can ask for. He is a pro when it comes to his preparation and attention to detail. He is truly what I would call a professional in this game and I’m happy for him. Hopefully he’ll have a long and industrious career here.”

Behind the Buckeye trio lies a number of talented youngsters with plenty of versatility. Vobora was a starter on the strong side last year but he is capable of playing all three positions and is likely to be the top backup at more than one position and a valuable special teams contributor.

Chamberlain is capable of similar things and is perhaps the Rams’ best special teams player in terms of covering punts and kicks. Grant and Douglas have both spent time in the system and also have proved capable of filling in and chipping in on special teams.

Hull was an uber productive middle linebacker at Penn State and can’t be discounted from the mix. Jackson is an undrafted free agent with upside.


THE ROSTER: Ron Bartell, Quincy Butler, Kevin Dockery, Bradley Fletcher, Marquis Johnson, Justin King, Jerome Murphy, Antoine Thompson.

The Rams spent another high draft pick to add even more depth at a position where it appears they are collecting big, physical corners. So they used a third-round choice on Murphy and are counting on the return of another third-round pick from injury to make a difference.

Fletcher was just coming into his own and getting a grasp on a starting job when he was injured last year. That knee ailment cost him the majority of his rookie season. But he’s back now and the Rams are expecting good things entering camp.

“If you could talk with (head athletic trainer) Reggie (Scott) and all the other trainers, there isn’t a guy that worked any harder than Bradley,” Spagnuolo said. “This whole situation where he had to be out for rehab and to be ready for the beginning, he’s been here the whole time in St. Louis. That’s hard too, you know, any young guy they like to get home a little bit. He’s deserved of getting out there.”

Fletcher’s return is just one piece of the good news for the Rams’ corners in terms of injury. Bartell is back to full strength and hoping to get back to the form of 2008 after fighting through a hamstring injury in 2009.

The Rams also went out and added Dockery, a talented nickel corner familiar with the system from his time in New York as a Giant.

King returns with a year of experience under his belt and has proved solid on special teams and valuable in his versatility at corner.

In addition to Murphy, the Rams also went out and drafted Johnson in the seventh round. He proved feisty in OTA’s and minicamp and figures to have a shot to earn a spot as depth and through special teams. Thompson is the lone undrafted free agent of the group and will compete for a spot.


THE ROSTER: Oshiomogho Atogwe, James Butler, Craig Dahl, Moses Harris, Kevin Payne, David Roach, Darian Stewart.

The biggest news of the offseason at this position had nothing to do with a new addition. Rather, it was the retention of one of the team’s most productive players that solidified the back end of the Rams’ defense.

After a long offseason, the Rams inked Atogwe to an extension last month to bring their most accomplished ball hawk back in the fold. It also should make for an interesting preseason as Dahl, the man who replaced Atogwe when he was gone, earned a little bit of a foothold on the job.

“It gives us another veteran leader that gives us productivity,” Flajole said. “Having O.J. back and for us to be able to get him back, it creates some competition for us at safety. Craig Dahl played his position during the OTA’s in the spring, and in my mind I consider Craig a starter as well as James Butler. So it gives us a lot of competition there and we’ll just go through the course of the preseason and let it shake itself out. But we’re very happy to have O.J. back. He’s a great leader. He’s been productive for us and, again, he’s another true professional and he knows how to prepare and how to practice.”

With Dahl, Butler and Atogwe in their roles, that would seem to leave at least one more spot for someone to earn. The Rams traded for Payne in the offseason and he comes with versatility and a knack for the big hit.

Roach earned some love from the coaching staff and a spot on the roster last season. Harris and Stewart worked hard in the offseason program and will get a look as well.


THE ROSTER: Donnie Jones, Chris Massey

Like death and taxes, these two are about as sure a thing as you will find.

Jones remains one of the best punters in the league and is coming off his second consecutive outstanding season.

Massey is recovering from a serious knee injury but has been money on snaps and is the team’s most tenured veteran.


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