Monday, April 27, 2009

2nd Day Draft Picks Where So-So but solid

Based from the several articles that I read today from GM Bill Devaney's breakdown to the fan's reaction as well some of the Draft analysts analysis, The 2nd day of the Rams draft was more on "so-so" for me personally. Bill Devaney and Coach Spags like what they have picked but it could have been better.

Read Bill Devaney's Break Down of the 2nd day draft picks

Rams Day 2 Draft Picks

32(66)Bradley FletcherCBIowa
 Fletcher is 6-feet tall and, like we said yesterday in regard to Utah cornerback Sean Smith, corners this tall can have a hard time changing directions. In Fletcher's case, he doesn't have the burst or hip fluidity to consistently match up in man coverage. However, he does a good job masking his weaknesses with instincts. Because of his long arms he doesn't necessarily have to be in perfect position to make a play on the ball. 
43(103)Dorell ScottDTClemson
 Scott possesses the adequate size to be an effective one-gap defensive tackle. However, his quickness is just average and we'd like to see him play with more of a mean streak. We do believe he has enough strength to develop into an effective interior run-stopper.
524(160)Brooks FosterWRNorth Carolina
 from Atlanta
 Foster's a relatively fluid route-runner for his size. He possesses the body control to make the tough catch away from his frame. However, he takes too long to reach top-end speed and needs to work on getting a cleaner release against press coverage.
623(196)Keith NullQBWest Texas A&M
 from Atlanta
 Null is a developmental prospect with a strong arm and limited mobility. We like his upside due to good decision-making and his maturity as a leader.
72(211)Chris OgbonnayaRBTexas
 Ogbonnaya is a big north-south back who possesses great overall strength. He lacks in terms of top-end speed and elusiveness in the open field, but he is able to pick up tough yards after contact.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm Two for Two on my Mock Draft

As expected the St. Louis Rams picked Baylor OT Jason Smith for the number 2 pick overall and on the 2nd round the Rams filled in a need at Middle linebacker as they passed over USC's Rey Malauaga and drafted Ohio State's James Laurinaitis which is more of a three-down player and is a solid character.

On Day 2, I would expect the Rams to add depth on the Wideout positions and maybe a quarterback or a runningback.

Jason Smith Highlights

James Laurinaitis Highlights

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Rams Mock Draft

Round 1: Offensive Tackle Jason Smith - Baylor

The reason that an offensive tackle should be draft on the 1st round because the Rams should protect Marc Bulger at all cost and both Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe are NFL ready with Smith having more upside.

While both Smith and Monroe are elite pass protectors, the former offers more in the run-blocking department.

Why not Aaron Curry? a franchise left tackle holds way more positional value than a linebacker.

Round 2: Middle Linebacker James Laurinaitis - Ohio State

Will Witherspoon will be moving over to weakside linebacker, creating a need for the Rams in the middle. St. Louis could desperately use a dynamic talent like James Laurinaitis as a leader for its abysmal defense.

Round 3: Wide Reciever Hakeem Nicks - North Carolina

What I like about Hakeem Nicks aside from the size and is his route running and a sure catching hands. Speed and quickness are just average but with Rams now using a balanced West Coast type of offense speed is not an issue in my opinion.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Draft Prospect Review: Wide Receivers

The Wide Reciever position has become an urgent need when Pro Bowler Torry Holt was released so the Rams stockpiled their pre-draft visits with  a lot of WR prospects in this years draft and here's are the scouting reports of some of these prospects based from various scouting websites.

Texas Tech WR Michal Crabtree 
Height: 6-3, Weight: 209

Strengths: Sensational playmaker…utilizes his hands very well in catching the football away from his body…Crabtree is a physical player who has demonstrated that getting off a jam at the line of scrimmage is not an issue…has had the additional advantage of lining up at both flankers and slot positions, and has found success while playing both…runs crisp routes, so transition to the NFL level should be more smoothly than others…outstanding vertical leap, catches the football at its highest point…should develop into a terrific red zone threat…

Weaknesses: Top end speed is not going to be ideal, reportedly…added speculation circulates Crabtree’s 40 time as he is not going to run at the Scouting Combine, rather at individual workout…recent high-profile receivers who have not run well, Dwayne Jarrett, Malcolm Kelly, etc. have not progressed well to the NFL level…Crabtree has had an amazing collegiate career, but it was only two years, and prior to that, he was a high school QB, so as a wide receiver, he is still developing…playing in the spread offense at Texas Tech has, in all likelihood, glorified his statistics…will he be able to separate from cornerbacks at the next level…?

Overall: The one knock on Michael Crabtree’s NFL potential is his top-end speed, besides that he is, in many scouts opinion, infallible. He is extremely quick off the ball, and the more physical nature of the National Football League will be a fit for Michael Crabtree’s game. He has outstanding hands, and it is almost unbelievable to think that he has only played the position for two years. There are two schools of thought in regards to his experience or lack thereof, some may feel that there is going to be a transition phase where he struggles to the NFL level, some feel that due to his inexperience, the best is yet to come. The Andre Johnson/Larry Fitzgerald comparisons are out there, and they are accurate. Michael Crabtree is a top five talent in the 2009 NFL Draft, and the early favorite for 2009 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin
Height: 6-1, Weight: 198

Strengths: Has sprinter speed and possesses acceleration that is second to none…ultra-talented, as he can make an impact in the passing, rushing, and returning game…has produced off the chart all-purpose yardage numbers…has been the focus of an offensive attack for several seasons now, and although the opposing defense has game planned to stop him, rarely any do…many times track stars are sloppy route runners, that is not the case in regards to Jeremy Maclin, his route running isn’t Jerry Rice caliber, but it is at least average...bottom line—if he gets a step on the defense, he’s gone…

Weaknesses: Needs work on catching the football, his receiving skills are not the smoothest…very fluid with the ball in his hands, needs to adapt that to his game prior to the ball being in his hands…the spread offense that he played in at Missouri can be a detriment to his future NFL prospects…listed at under 200 pounds, and around 6 foot, many doubt his ability to become a true #1 WR…hasn’t had to go over the middle and make the tough grab on a regular basis…not the red-zone threat that many 2009 prospects are…to get in to the end zone, an offense may have to be a bit more creative…

Overall: The comparisons have been made to Ted Ginn Jr. due to their receiving/returning skills and the fact that they are both world class speed athletes, however, the comparison falls short. For one, Maclin is a bigger receiver prospect, and two, he is just a better natural receiver than Ginn. The better comparison is a poor man’s Reggie Wayne. Maclin will immediately help an offense and on special teams, just don’t expect a legit 1,000 season right away. Maclin will take time to learn the nuances of the National Football League, but he has a ton of potential and will stretch a defense like not many in the league can.

Maryland WR Darius Heyward-Bey
Height: 6-2, Weight: 206

Strengths: Has electrifying speed and quickness…has the capabilities to take every play the distance and will provide whatever team selects him with explosiveness that they may currently lack…he possesses a unique combo of size and speed that is rarely seen—think Roddy White as a comparison…a versatile wide receiver prospect that can stretch the defense, go across the middle, and can be a factor in the red zone…plays with an edge at the WR position, gets after it in blocking the oppositions secondary down field…possibly has more potential than ANY other wide receiver in the 2009 NFL Draft…

Weaknesses: Had a very up and down collegiate career…will need to work on his hands, at times lets the ball get in on him…focusing on technique is essential in regards to progression…needs to work on refining his route running, has a tendency to get sloppy at times….statistics were nothing to write home about…could develop a little more strength to better develop his level of physicality…does he rely too much on his speed and quickness?

Overall: Some scouts and pundits are sleeping on Darius Heyward-Bey in my opinion. Critics will point to an underwhelming career at Maryland where he never dominated, but if one were to watch the Maryland football games you would clearly see that Heyward-Bey was not utilized very well at all and the passing attack, primarily at the quarterback position, of the Terps leaves a lot to be desired. Many are focusing on Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin, however, don’t be surprised if you see pundits start using the terminology "stock moving up" in regards to Darius Heyward-Bey during the Scouting Combine and thereafter. Make no mistakes about it, Heyward-Bey is going to light up the Scouting Combine, and don’t be stunned if he even runs a faster 40 time than speedster Jeremy Maclin, and opens up the eyes of scouts in the process.

Hakeem Nicks
Wide Reciever - North Carolina
Height:6-1 , Weight: 212lbs.
The 6-2 wideout has had three productive years with the Tar Heels. As a freshman in 2006 he caught 39 passes for 660 yards, both records for a North Carolina freshman. As a sophomore he caught 74 passes for 958 yards and five touchdowns. His 958 yards ranked third all-time in UNC history. He shattered the record in 2008, tallying 1,222 receiving yards. He also set a record with 12 touchdown receptions. Even with playing just three years, Nicks has been the most prolific receiver in Tar Heel history.

Nicks is not a pure speed receiver, but he has certainly been productive. At 6-2 and 210 pounds, he has decent size and could develop into a solid complimentary receiver on just about any team in the NFL. It will take a big effort to move up into the first round, but Nicks' performance at the combine should be the difference between a second and third round selection.

2/11 Update: Nicks may even be able to sneak into the first round if teams start going after wide receivers early. Nicks is looking more and more like the fifth best receiver in the draft. The difference will be how well he does in the combine. There are some speed concerns with Nicks and if he quells those concerns, he will be a first or second round selection.

Brandon Tate
Wide Reciever - North Carolina
Height:6-0, Weight:183 lbs.

A knee injury sidelined Brandon Tate for most of his senior year, but he still had a very productive career at North Carolina. During the 2008 campaign he caught 16 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns in just five games before the injury. In 2007 he totaled 1,765 all-purpose yards. A majority of those yards came from kick-off and punt returns and that skill will make him very attractive to certain NFL teams.

It will be his return skills that give him an opportunity in the NFL, but Tate could be a solid second or third receiving option on certain teams sooner or later. His collegiate production was never anything that impressive, but he did do a nice job of complimenting Hakeem Nicks, who could be a first or second round choice this year. Tate's 6-1, 195 pound frame will not allow him to be a primary receiver in the NFL and he has too many questions to answer. That means he will not likely be drafted during the first day of the draft.

However, he should show at the combine that his knee injury is behind him and that he is a quick player who can run decent routes and catch the ball in traffic. If that is the case, Tate will not last very long into the second day.

Opinion: Most of these years wide receiver prospects have the size to go with the speed which mean it's a good year for the position. The Rams will probably draft a wide receiver on the 2nd and 3rd rounds and the possibility of drafting one or two from these top picks. Personally I would go with either Heyward-Bey or Nicks on round 2 with the possibility of getting Tate on round 3. Crabtree and Maclin are sure 1st rounders unless the Rams drafts either of them on the #2 pick overall (which I doubt).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rams trade for Atlanta WR Laurent Robinson

The Rams need help at the wide receiver position and got some Monday by trading for Atlanta wideout Laurent Robinson. The Rams acquired Robinson by switching draft positions with the Falcons in both the fifth and sixth rounds. They didn’t lose any picks; they just changed positions in both rounds with Atlanta.

The Rams get Atlanta’s fifth-round (No. 160 overall) and sixth-round (No. 196 overall) picks; Atlanta gets the Rams’ fifth-round (No. 138 overall) and sixth-round (No. 176 overall) picks.


Linebacker Prospects Scouting Resport

Wake Forest OLB Aaron Curry
Height: 6-3, Weight: 240

Strengths: Naturally strong…explosive first step…offers exceptional versatility at the NFL level where he could play strong side in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense or in the middle of a 4-3…nose for the football with 6 career interceptions…ideal size with the desired bulk…adequate in coverage…experienced, team leader…excels at shedding blockers…should be able to make an impact immediately…attacks the ball 
carrier…good player recognition skills…decent speed for a player his size…

Weakness: Like many star college LBs, he can go over pursue at times…coverage skills are only adequate if asked to play man coverage…will struggle if forced to match up extensively with top tier TEs…

Overall: The best overall linebacking prospect seen since Lavar Arrington, even a more complete player than A.J. Hawk or Keith Rivers. Curry’s versatility will serve him well and allows him to be an option for many different schemes. Curry will make an impact immediately and serve to make any defense he plays on better immediately. Curry, a four year starter at Wake, was named the 2009 Butkus Award winner over fellow standouts James Laurinaitis and Rey Maualuga.

USC LB Rey Maualuga 
Height: 6-3, Weight: 250 

Strengths: Ideal size and bulk…freakish natural athlete who is incredibly strong…ultra aggressive with an attacking style…an intimidating player…has a knack for the big hit…will make a lot of highlight reel type plays…still improving as a player and took big steps forward in 2008…demonstrated good ball skills in zone coverage…good burst off the line of scrimmage…

Weakness: His aggressiveness can be his downfall at times as he goes for the big hit instead of wrapping up…tends to over pursue and run himself out of plays…still needs to improve his play recognition skills…timed speed is only average…will struggle to handle man coverage, as he can be a bit stiff…concerns about his maturity level, especially after some off the field issues and hits that injured teammates at USC…more of a “thumper”….

Overall: One of the flashiest players in college football, Maualuga will be on NFL highlight reels for year to come. His aggressive style and tendency for big hits will make him an asset in the NFL, especially if he can keep his emotions under control. He could play MLB in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme, but would probably struggle if asked to play in a Cover 2 type scheme. Maualuga is probably a little overrated by the general public but he is still a solid NFL prospect with a ton of upside.

Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis 
Height: 6-3, Weight: 240

Strengths: Solid NFL frame with good bulk...good closing speed when rushing the passer...explosive hitter...better ball skills than given credit for...demonstrates good instincts and always flowing towards the ball...does a great job in zone coverage...dominate college well through trash to locate the ball carrier...offers some scheme versatility....

Weaknesses: Needs to improve his functional strength...may struggle to shed blockers at the next level...will not be able to add a lot of bulk at the next level...probably a low upside player...played with several other NFL caliber players...probably a little overrated because he will struggle to make a lot of impact plays.

Overall: Following in the steps of recent Buckeye linebackers such as A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter, James "Little Animal" Laurinaitis is probably a little overrated by the general public but still projects as a solid NFL starter. Laurinaitis is one of the most decorated collegiate linebackers in recent history, including a Butkus Award win. He can probably start in virtually any scheme but projects best on the weakside or in the middle of a standard 4-3 defense.

Opinion: The Rams really need to solidify their linebacking group specially the middle linebacker position since Will Weatherspoon is back at his original position which is the weakside LB spot and veteran Chris Draft manning the middle for now. If the Rams do get a Linebacker on the 1st round its obviouse the Aaron Curry will land on the #2 pick overall but personally it's highly unlikely because the Rams are sure to get an offensive tackle on the 1st round.

Round 2 is where the Rams have a success (Donnie Avery, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Ron Bartell, etc.) so here the Rams can draft the top 2 Middle Linebackers namely Rey Maualuga and James Laurinaitis. Both are high on my list.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kyle Boller signs as backup quarterback

For weeks, the Rams appeared on the verge of signing veteran Gus Frerotte as the backup quarterback to Marc Bulger. But the Rams grew tired of waiting on Frerotte, and wasted little time signing his replacement.

Just a few hours after completing their first minicamp under coach Steve Spagnuolo, the Rams signed former Baltimore Raven Kyle Boller to a free-agent contract. It's a two-year deal but further contract details weren't available.

"We think he's a good fit for us backing up Marc," general manager Billy Devaney said. "He's a young guy that still has a ton of ability and a lot of upside. This is a really good pickup for us."

The Rams' depth chart at quarterback now includes Marc Bulger, Boller, Brock Berlin and Jeff Otis. Boller has started 42 NFL games, all with the Ravens. He spent last season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. If healthy, Boller should serve as a viable backup. He is also relatively young -- 27 -- so he has more upside than the 37-year-old Frerotte.

Opinion: Rams made the right move on signing Kyle Boller rather than the aging Gus Frerotte.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

TE Billy Bajema Signs with the St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams have a new blocking specialist at tight end. Free agent Billy Bajema, who had spent his four previous seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, has agreed to terms with the Rams. Contract details weren’t immediately available. Bajema, 26, replaces Anthony Becht, who was released by the Rams earlier this month and subsequently signed with the Arizona Cardinals.