Nov 30, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) rushes the quarterback against Clemson Tigers guard Tyler Shatley (62) in the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Should The Rams Trade Chris Long and Draft Jadeveon Clowney?


Nov 30, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) rushes the passer against the Clemson Tigers in the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

One thing that may not be getting as much mention as it should, is the fact that Rams defensive end Chris Long, had a disappointing season. The Rams just signed Long to a big contract in 2012, extending him to 2016 worth a total of $48 million.

Since signing his $48 million contract, Long’s numbers have only gone down. Last season Long recorded 11.5 sacks, 1.5 sacks lower than the year before, and this season Long failed to reach double-digit sacks, recording a mere 8.5.

You can say what you want that Long opened things up for Robert Quinn, but in fact, the opposite should have been true. Every team the Rams played tried to stop Quinn, double teaming him, chipping him, etc. Everybody nearly forgot about Chris Longand he only managed 8.5 sacks.

Long’s experience and value to the defensive line cannot be underestimated, but the Rams could improve in 2014  at that position by trading Long and drafting South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney with the second overall pick.

The Rams would be opening up a ton of cap space, get possibly the best player in the draft, as well as get younger at the position.

Long is 28 years old, and his best days may be behind him. Long will still be a force on the line, but it looks like Robert Quinn has taken over as the premier pass rusher.

The Rams could easily receive a 2nd round pick at best for Long as well as a lower conditional round pick, or at worst a 4th round pick with a conditional pick. Finding a trade partner who could take on Long’s cap amount on the other hand could be difficult. If the Rams put Long on the trade block however, there is no question a team would jump right on it.

 

ESPN’s draft profile has this to say about Clowney:

 

Rare combination of length, initial burst, suddenness, change-of-direction skills and violent hands as a pass rusher. He shows very good natural instincts. Keeps OTs constantly guessing because of his ability to convert speed-to-power, as well as his ability to quickly change directions on an outside-in or inside-out move. Is relentless as a rusher. Has excellent torso flexibility and closing burst to get home once he turns the corner.

Quick to diagnose run and locate the ball. Has very good natural football instincts. Needs to continue to improve lower-body strength in order to anchor better, but is a natural knee-bender who shows ability to sink his hips. Stacks and sheds blockers quickly enough to get involved. Elite range for size/position. Consistently makes plays down the line, outside the tackle box and occasionally across the field in backside pursuit.

Most natural fit is RDE in a four-man front, but rare combination of tools will allow him to play multiple positions in multiple fronts.

On field for a high percentage of snaps and shows outstanding stamina. Very good motor in 2012, which was an improvement over 2011 tapes. Makes multiple plays per game as a result of relentless pursuit. Plays with confidence, toughness, aggressiveness and determination.

 

Long does play on the left side, but the Rams could just put Clowney on the left side, or put Quinn over there. With the way Quinn has played on the right side, inserting Clowney on the left may be the most logical decision.

Clowney only had three sacks last season, but that doesn’t take away from his 14 sack 2012 season and his outstanding skill set.

One downside on Clowney is that he seemed to have some work ethic issues last season, but Fisher seems to know how to get the best out of players as Albert Haynesworth‘s best days were in Tennessee with Fisher. Haynesworth also had work ethic issues.

Drafting Clowney and trading Chris Long would not only give the Rams a significant amount of cap space, but could also make the Rams one of the best defensive lines in the history of the game.

If the Rams don’t trade Chris Long, the Rams more than likely would pass on Clowney, however, if the Rams were to draft him and get him to gain 20-30 pounds, Clowney has the ability and athleticism to play on the inside next to Brockers. Defensive end is where Clowney prefers, but if the Rams needed to, they might be able to move him to defensive tackle.

Clowney is said to be a once in a generation type player. Players like him don’t come around very often. If the Rams get the chance to draft Clowney, there is no doubt that they should strongly consider it.

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  • Pridenpoise

    Why would you draft Clowney, and ask that he gain 20-30 pounds, probably one of the more ridiculous statements I have read in a while.

    • Jim

      They’re also thinking about drafting Sammy Watkins and having him put on 20-30 pounds to play TE because Cook and Kendricks careers are declining at 28 and 26 yrs old…. Lol

      • Pridenpoise

        Exactly, someone needs to take his crayons away, before he gets in trouble. Chris Long over the hill at the tender age of 28, not even a Rams fan but thank god this guy isn’t part of the front office staff.

    • drewspinoso

      Probably because he won’t wow you with his overall skills like DT might be easier.

      • Jim

        DT isn’t easier to be a pass rusher. Which is what Clowney is. A DE on alot of downs can go 1 on 1 against the opposing tackle. A DT in a 4-3 is constantly going up against 3 on 2 matchups on the inside. Idk why anyone would move one of the best pass rushing prospects to come out in awhile out of his original position. There really is absolutely no argument.

      • Pridenpoise

        Well you’re in the minority, to say the least.

  • Jim

    Lol, this was a ridiculous article. From Long being 28 yrs old and the best days behind him to putting Clowney at DT. Long battled through injury all season to his back and hip. 8.5 sacks isn’t a bad number, he also improved against the run and still pressured QBs constantly. You think because he didn’t have pro bowl numbers his career is over? 28 yrs old is entering the prime of your career. Laughable.

    • drewspinoso

      I believe Blaine was referring to Longs 12 million a year contract and only bein ranked 6 or 7th in the NFC. Those numbers suck. We could pay for 2 great lineman and keep Quinn next year! Long is noooo Quinn!

      • Jim

        1 yr guy. If you actually expect a guy to be consistently one of the most dominant players at his position every single year without having an off year, in Longs case due in large part to battling through hip and back injuries you don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. You don’t throw in the towel on one of your franchise players for having one good season instead of another pro bowl type season. Thank god you have no say in this team.

        • drewspinoso

          I understand if Long was to be in in a pro bowl, hall of fame potential, or if you were having gay sex with him but you are completely basing your judgement on loyalty. It’s reasons like this we are in the situation we are.

          • Jim

            Look at all the stats. Sacks aren’t everything. QB pressyres and hits are a major part of a DEs job and Long has consistently been top 5 in the league. And once again, you igmore the fact he was fighting hip and back injuries all season. 2 injuries that hinder your ability to fire out of your stance yet he still pressured QBs all season. Lol, I like arguing with idiots who know they have been caught not knowing what they’re talking about. They always go to the high school insults. Nope, not gay, just know more about my sports team than you.

          • drewspinoso

            Once again…12 million! There are many able bodied individuals with similar stats for a quarter of the price!

          • Jim

            There are a bunch of guys that are top 5 in qb pressures/hits year in and year out. Yup, good call. He was injured. How do you think FA look at a team that restructures contacts 1 yr in, or just cuts you out right if you have one season below what you have produced every year due to injury. He got paid because he was the lone bright spot on the entire defense aside from JL55 for years. He has one good not freat season and idiots like you say he’s burnt out at age 28. He is just now entering the prime of his career. The Rams have the best pass rushing defensive front in the league, and you want to change it for some reason. I guess if you were a consistent worker and leader at your job and earned a big raise you would be just fine if they went and hired some other guy that hasn’t earned anything just so they could pay him less. I’ll bet not.

          • drewspinoso

            That’s like saying you have the nicest house in the hood! If long has trade value for only an above average player than trade him and be able to eleviate his disgustingly high paycheck! Shit I would trade Bradford in a heartbeat or restructure his paycheck to 9 million this year and longs for 7 million. 23 million in savings and 3 awesome players to add much need depth! You want a winner or an average team? It all comes down to the cap! Just like in society you can’t have 1% making all the money!

          • Jim

            Bradford’s deal does need to be restructured. But that’s because he never earned that money. Long earned his pay day. Once again you ignore simple facts. Long was fighting hip and back injuries all season. At one point the team questioned if they should put him on IR and he fought through it. STILL getting 8.5 sacks and constantly pressuring QBs. If Long wasn’t opposite Quinn, Quinn probably has more like 10 or 11 sacks. He is one of the most fundamentally sound DEs in the NFL, always top 5 in pressures and hits, and most importantly he is a leader on the defenense. And again, if you were a FA looking at St Louis and they just restructured 1 yr old and 2 yr old contracts basically taking away a players money, or just straight out cut them….. Would you say, “Oh hell yeah, definitely want to play for that team! I love the fact that their players get hurt 1 season and they take money away from them for it, or release them!” Long, and JL55 are the mainstays of the St Louis defense. They will be the leaders of it for years to come. Laurinaitis is one of the most underrated players in the NFL. Probably the best cover MLB in the league. One of the smartest guys at his position as well. These aren’t “average guys” you can just find in FA. If either of them got cut they would make just as much money if not more somewhere else. They’re young, great players that can lead defenses. Fin’s contract needs restructured or cut, but he’s on his 3rd year and while I believe this past season is the only bad season he’s had, he is 30 yrs old and may not recover from an eye injury. But again, I would be fine if they kept him if he can come back from injury as he’s the only veteran DB on the team. If he can get healthy and Walton get’s canned for a good DC he can be a good CB again. Wells should be cut because he is never on the field and unlike Long having one injury filled season, Wells has had 3 injury filled seasons and never plays through it. Can’t pay 7 million for a guy who doesn’t contribute anything. Dahl is a good guard but his age is getting up there and he is getting more and more injury prone. He’s getting 4 million a year so Idk how you could lower that without extending his contract. Saffold is injury prone but showed that he could be all-pro at guard which would solidify a gaping hole in the O-line. Bradford needs to be restructured. I’ll agree with you on that. But you’re idea of just cutting or trading every veteran on the team may be the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. Ya, let’s cut all the guys that are leaders and sure fire producers on our team for rookies and unknowns. If you constantly turn rosters over you’re basically committed to constantly rebuilding your franchise and going nowhere.

          • drewspinoso

            Whoop te do! Give your boyfriend a medal! Maybe a parade but the Rams with their elite line gave up a lot of rushing yards and passing yards. Personal accomplishments mean NOTHING when when you aren’t winning games dummy. How bout our pass rush. With that kind of rush we should get quite a few interceptions. Right? What’s our record in the playoff? While you are celebrating sacks and QB hurries I’m hoping to get a caliber team that all the players can be celebrated! So go take all your Chris long posters down in your man cave and pick up some statistics books, or go watch “money ball” and see that big pay days don’t equal rings!

          • Jim

            LOL! You really have no clue what you’re talking about. The defense ended up ranked in the top 10 against the rush. The past 2 seasons they’ve been top 5 in pass rush. The reason they gave up more passing yards is because Finn was hurt all season, and Jenkins regressed. Walton’s coverage scheme didn’t fit the mold of the players St Louis has and the pass defense suffered greatly for it. Which is why Fisher took play calling duties away from him 3/4 of the way through the season. Lol, you’re a joke.

          • drewspinoso

            You must be either delusional or stupid because the team only got better cuz the offense got really bAd. Why ring up the score on an offense ranked below 20th. Depth? DT, guard, center, safety, tackle, linebacker? What they have is 4th string. That’s not backups that’s pathetic.

  • Gary Stewart

    well blaine you got your answer at least as far as the fans are concerned when the rams couldnt wipe their butt without help long was their stalwart im sure if chris read the comments he would smile i expect a much better year next year especially if the rams find an olb with pass rush ability it may open things up even more for long either way it is a business but the rams have very few players that are loved for more than a year or so long is the exception lets keep him

    • Blaine Grisak

      I don’t actually believe the Rams should do this, Im a firm supporter of Long, hell I have a Chris Long Jersey, I was just thinking of a scenario in which the Rams drafted Clowney and this was it. I didn’t expect to take this much heat. Chris does have his supporters apparently

      • Gary Stewart

        i have previously posted with regard to a rotation system with all 3 similar to seattle but they seattle signed extra d lineman in FA as a result of the money they had avail. from the salary of wilson vs bradford which allowed them to sign extra bodies. that combined with the fact that the rams still have holes makes that move less appealing but certainly not out of the question. oh and btw your article did stir up a hornets nest!! good to see that kind of support for chris however

        • http://www.cnsqonline.com cesarnoel

          That’s the Luxury the Seahawks and 49ers have for now because they have QB’s at their rookie contracts that’s why they are this good for now. I won’t be surprise there will be a massive shake up in that luxury once Wilson or Kaepernick demands an extension and more $$.

          • Gary Stewart

            cesarnoel i dont know how long you have been a ram fan i have been watching since 1963 when i was 10 years old. i like the fact you pay attention to details like lde and rde its completely different dropping the other shoulder attacking from the other side the ball is in a different place in relation to the rusher and unlike blocking on the right and left its even more difficult not impossible but more difficult. i bet you remember saying that anthony barr didnt really fit as he was better suited to a 3-4 then a 4-3. how bout this we get a monster dt to rotate with brockers add barr and say shazier or another athletic olb type and go gung ho with the 3-4 its not that tough if you have the right bodies in place

          • http://www.cnsqonline.com cesarnoel

            I might be a fan since 1999 but I do extensive research of various scouting reports of several prospects I collect these articles and read them on my spare time because that’s what I like to do. And I do watch game of some of these prospects when I have time. Positioning does matter at times because not all player can play at a high level on both side of the DLine. Even the best of D-Line played on 1 specific are even though they played OK on one side

            Michael Strahan – played better on the left side
            Leonard Little – played better on the left side, never played in right side
            Chris Long – played OK in the right side early in his career but played Much Better when he move to the left.
            Jevon Kearse – played much better in the left side not much on the right side when he signed with the Eagles.
            Kevin Carter – played much better on the left side, Not much when he signed with the Titans.

            These are some of my observations why not all players played well on the side he’s not good at.

            Regarding my discussion about Anthony Barr, he FITS more in a 3-4 defense than in a 4-3 because that’s the system he’s used to playing. I never said he can’t play in a 4-3 heck I even open up the idea of using Barr as Jo-Lonn Dunbar’s replacement BUT upon further listening to some scouts interviewed on 101sports dot com they mentioned that the 3rd LB position would only play 30% of the total defensive plays because JL55 and AO52 will be the ones to play on nickel packages so the ideas of drafting a player that high and to play them only on two downs per series is a bit “expensive” rather than drafting late to find Run specialists like Standford’s Shane Skov or Conneticut’s Yawin Smallwood.

            It would take a good defensive coach to mold Anthony Barr into his system if he is using 4-3 as his base defense. But who knows maybe Fisher can fit Barr in his system. I’m just sharing what i have read base on the available scouting reports online.

          • Gary Stewart

            while i agree barr might be the most likely to come off the field in certain packages to say 30% is not likely due to anthonys athleticism his rare combo of speed knowledge of how the offense plays leads to such better instincts, and with those tools and the substitution rules the hurry up is harder for the opponents to implement successfully, due to barrs pure athletic ability i would love to have that problem!! trying to figure out how to get him more snaps including using barr one on one against the tight ends my feeling is he matches up well in that scenario where jolonn lacks speed and AO lacks maybe the pure strength. again my instincts tell me he may also be able to stay on the field as a 3rd safety type player. i want a player with so much versatility.

          • http://www.cnsqonline.com cesarnoel

            Anthony Barr and Kyle Van Noy have similar versatility and are both 3-4 OLB’s. but among the two Van Noy is best in pass coverage but Barr is the best overall. Van Noy is projected around late first to 2nd day depending on his work outs. The Rams can still get a Barr type of a player in later rounds.

            Another OLB that the Rams can also consider from from 3rd to 4th rounds is Arizona State’s Carl Bradford who can rush the passer as a 3-down lineman or in the middle (19.0 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks). This type of player we need against top runners in the NFC west

  • pboi619

    The worst article I’ve seen in a while…1st off best days behind him at the age 28 come on man then Clowney is only a pass rusher he’s not even close to being a run stoppper which everybody seems to leave out we are fine without him I’m more concerned about our WR,SS,LB, and OL…D-line is waaay out of the need option….

  • Robert Thomas

    SO you would trade a star..an experienced veteran for a shot at…..this kid? You are an idiot. Long has 3 more HIGHLY productive tears at least. What a putz

    • drewspinoso

      It’s not just about talent ! It’s about talent that is worth their weight. 12 million is holding us back when we could have a cost effective replacement and afford depth all around. If we only needed a “first team” everything all year we would be safe. But the rams have NO depth and Long, Finnegan, Bradford, and Laurinitus a re hurting this team with their stupid ass contracts!

      • Jim

        The Rams have only 2 positions that need more depth. O-Line and Corner. They have great depth at every other position.

  • http://www.cnsqonline.com cesarnoel

    Clowney is a natural RDE, Chris Long is a Natural LDE. You may say he can play on both sides but Clowney is more effective at RDE on which Robert Quinn is already entrenched. Personally, I’d rather have the Rams trade down and draft Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman THAT is prospect who can fit in with the Rams as Hageman is 3-Tech DT with skills somewhat similar to those of JJ Watt or Richard Seymour. His draft projection right now is a late 1 round – early 2 round (pending combine and workout) and he can take over Kendall Langford (who by the way becomes a free agent). Rams needed more pressure from the interior of the Defensive Line and Hageman would be my choice.

    If it comes to a discussion which would fit better: Clowney who can only play on obvious passing plays or a Hageman who can possibly be 3-down starter at DT (DLine Coach Mike Waufle has been doing great with his DLinemen so far).

  • paul escalera

    I’m with you on drafting clowney and I think we should trade up for watkins. And I agree with you that c longs numbers have gone down for 2 years straight. But I don’t agree with you about trading him. I say rotate quinn,long,hayes and clowney. Move Sims in to DT on passing downs.and clowney can go DT on passing downs too once in awhile. The possibilities are endless! If we want the sack record that’s the way to do it.

    • drewspinoso

      Trade him, or restructure his contract to half of what it is! 6 mill a year is generous for him! How many pro bowls? Future hall of famer? Smart player?
      12 million a year is what we pay him people! Tell me ONE year he was worth that! We could get two people in his league for his price.

  • drewspinoso

    Trade all the high cap bums! If we got second round pics for all 4 of them we would be a better team next year! Long we’d have to pay 4 mill a year to compensate but it would be worth it and the Rams would be a contender the following year with a hopeful dynasty! Shit they could get 3 first round pics by trading Quinn this year!

    • Jim

      Yeah, trade the NFL defensive player of the year when he’s still on a rookie contract. That will make your defense amazing, getting rid of the best defensive player in the league. You’re a genius.

  • Jim

    The Rams have Zero need on the defensive line. Quinn and Long are arguably the best DE tandem in the league. Hayes and Sims are great stuational DEs. Brockers gets better every year and Langford stepped his game up big time this season and is only 28 yrs old if I remember right. they could use one developmental DT late rounds but Cudjo and Conrath are fine in situational roles. Plus Hayes and Sims move inside on passing downs. The Rams need to get O-line guys especially if they don’t re-sign Saffold. Then they need to find DBs. I think the Rams could re-sign Dunbar for league minimum and be set at LB. A #1 WR would be a luxury pick. The Rams need a veteran guy to help develop the young WRs we already have. Trade #2, then draft O-Line #13, then DBs, then BPA or depth picks.