Yesterday, my colleague Justin Stine graded the Rams overall free agent signings. Since he gave an overall grade, I decided to give individual ratings to each of our signings. Forgive me if I miss a player, free agency has been a blur so far as signings go.
Let’s begin with the offensive signings:
RG Harvey Dahl: I absolutely loved this pick. Top 5 OG in free agency – I believe he’s been ranked 6 in the entire league – and a big mauler with a nasty streak that will vastly improve the running game. He solidifies a glaring hole in the offense. Sub-par line play last year lead to RB Steven Jackson being stuffed behind the line countless of times. Dahl should help out with that issue. He entered the league as an UDFA, so he plays with a chip on his shoulder. Best pick up in my opinion
WR Mike Sims-Walker: MSW fills a void left by Mark Clayton – Clayton is still rehabbing a knee injury – but can still be a surprise if all pans out. Big size (6’2, 214 lb) and able route runner, Sims-Walker is coming off a season derailed by injury (high ankle sprain). Although many say he can be a No. 1 WR, I disagree. He hasn’t posted great numbers required to be dubbed with that title. Plus, he has been notoriously inconsistent throughout his career, having his best season in 2009 (63 catches, 869 yards, 7 TDs). However, he does have 14 TDs in the past two seasons.
RB Jerious Norwood: He brings an element of speed to the running game. He is not able to really carry the load if super-back Steven Jackson goes down, but it is nice to see the Front Office finally got a backup RB.
And now the defensive players:
S Quintin Mikell: This guy is the definition of a safety in Spag’s scheme. Mikell is interchangeable, being able to play the run and defend the pass. Mikell is a sure tackler and is also able to make a play or two in the secondary (3 INTs and 1 FF in 2010). However, Mikell will be 31 by the time the season rolls out and most likely will be on the downside sooner rather than later, which makes me question the terms of his contract ($28 million over 4 years). Mikell will still make an impact this season though.
LB Zac Diles: Diles also fills a big need. He is expected to battle for a starting job on the outside, the weakside to be specific. Diles has mixed reviews, his former coach, Gary Kubiak, said he is a Pro Bowler waiting to happen. Others say he is a liability in coverage. What is evident is the Diles is a tackling machine, racking up 88 tackles last season. If he can hold on to the weakside job, he’ll be an upgrade over the plethora of players that manned the spot in 2010.
DT Justin Bannan: Bannan is more of a run stopper than anything. He will add beef up front to command double teams, freeing up our linebackers. He doesn’t add much of a pass rush but still gives us value. Bannan is definitely an upgrade over Gary Gibson though. Should be part of a nice rotation.
DT Daniel Muir: Similar skill set as Bannan , except younger. He, too, will be part of an effective D-line rotation.
CB Al Harris: At this point in Harris’ career, he is nothing but a depth guy. If he makes it out of training camp, he can be a mentor to the younger corners, but can add little in terms of on-field production.
LB Brady Poppinga: Poppinga will be competing for a starting role on the outside linebacker spots. His size, 6’3 250 lbs., makes him a fit on the strongside. He is strong against the run but is terrible against the pass. At worst, he will add depth to the linebacker core.