Besides the loud and boisterous cheers from the NBA playoffs, it’s a subdued and eerie feeling before the NFL draft. A lot like the calm before the storm. General managers and head coaches are preparing war room campsites and subliminal messages are seeping through wires and phone lines.
A mock draft here, a mock draft there, it’s all about to come to end. Rams’ fans across the nation have their preferences of what players they wish to see in blue and gold. You would think the ongoing debate between the ultra athletic Cordarrelle Patterson and the swiss army knife Tavon Austin was a presidential election. What about the gifted, but troublesome Alec Ogletree? Some have said he’s Rolando Mcclain 2.0. This regime has proven that they take a hard look at talent and weigh the good with the bad. Perhaps they take a flyer on the roaming outside linebacker.
The most glaring need is safety. Kenny Vaccaro? Matt Elam? Jonathan Cyprien? They all could be at play with the Rams second first round selection(22). However, what about offensive line help? Everyone is quick to point out the need at left guard, but the organization never got the chance to see what Rokevious Watkins could actually do because of an early season ending injury. Quite frankly, I’m more worried about center and right guard. Scott Wells never played at full strength and his missed a large portion of the season. Not to mention he’s 32 years old in a division where he has to face the brutal D-line of the rival Seahawks and 49ers. The same goes for Harvey Dahl as he’s rehabbing from a torn bicep. Maybe Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper will entice the Rams.
Sure, along with dream scenarios, nightmare scenarios also come into the fold. Two offensive lineman in round one? No Austin or WR selected at 16 or 22? What about the bruising, but fleet-footed Eddie Lacy? I haven’t heard much support if the St. Louis decide to go this route. Even after only one year under the helm, has the trifecta of Kevin Demoff, Les Snead and Jeff Fisher let down a spirited group of Rams’ fan thus far?
Looks like they’ve struck gold in last year’s draft pending Brian Quick and Isaiah Pead. Michael Brockers and Janoris Jenkins have the makings of perennial Pro Bowl players. Chris Givens is the best WR on the roster as of now, and who would’ve thought a 7th round scatback from Abilene Christian College would rush for 475 yards? This is not the same regime who selected countless future bust, boneheaded players and flat out duds.
Out of the eight picks in the 2011 NFL draft, only three remain on the Rams’ roster (Robert Quinn, Lance Kendricks, Austin Pettis). Out of 11 selections from the 2010 NFL draft, three remain as well, Sam Bradford, Roger Saffold and Josh Hull. From the seven picks in the 2009 NFL draft, only one remain on the roster, James Laurinaitis. And the 2008 NFL draft? Only the all-pro Chris Long is left standing out of eight picks. This organization is no longer ran by the likes of flamed out coordinators such as Scott Linehan or Steve Spagnuolo.
Regardless of which directions the Rams go tonight, a draft class can only truly be measured three to four years down the line. Trust that Snead and Fisher have a plan, trust that they are molding the Rams into a formidable franchise for years to come and know that this heralded group of leaders are here to stay.