There is no faster way to get fans riled up than to start talking about players in the draft. For real fans there is no subject more controversial than who a team should draft, and in what round. The only thing we can all agree on is that none of us all agree. So in an effort to be less than controversial, I have simply put together a small evaluation of some players that Rams fans should keep in mind.
When a team is putting together a draft board– scouts, personnel people, and coaches all have specific players they are infatuated with. Unfortunately, most of the time they don’t all agree on these players either. Maybe a scout likes a player because of his physical talent and his production on the field. A personnel guy might like an athletic or productive player because he is undervalued due to injuries, character concerns, or the school he attended. And a coach might love a guy with a passion for the game and a specific trait that fits his offensive or defensive scheme. In a perfect word there is a marriage between these three elements, and they are able to find a player that meets the needs of all three in every round. It is very difficult to do, and as you might be able to tell, it is not a perfect science.
Below I have compiled a list of players I think the Rams should be infatuated with. I have organized it by round, so that fans can gauge the value I place in each player. This isn’t meant to display players I feel the Rams should draft with their current pick in this round. It is meant to display that these are players that will go in the corresponding rounds, that could be very productive players for the Rams specifically. Some may only be available through trade-down/trade-up scenario’s, so before anyone jumps off their seat to scream, “we can’t draft Richardson with the 2nd overall pick”, go back and read this paragraph again. This isn’t a comprehensive list, it is a selective list of a few of the top talents by round that fit well for the Rams. So without further ado, here are some players that the Rams would be lucky to have…
"First Round (top 15 picks):"
Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia: Someone told me last week that Brandon Boykin is the next Deon Sanders, and I had to laugh, but the truth is he’s very good. He is a small cornerback, so immediately I always take pause. Tye Hill still stings sharp, and no one is interested in another small CB who isn’t physical enough to play in the NFL. Brandon Boykin is more physical than most of the other corners in this draft. He is very physically built (chiseled as they say), and certainly plays the part. He has great press coverage and fantastic closing speed. If he makes it out of the first round the Rams could be in position to nab a speedy dime and nickel corner who would excel blitzing out of Williams system. For those who are not sold yet– he would immediately replace Justin King, and he returns kicks!
Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska: I can hear everyone now, “No, he will be another Adam Carricker…”, but these two guys are very different. Crick was a first round guy that had too much film and scouts started to find little flaws in his game. He’s also had some injuries this last year that affected his play. If you watch his last 3 years of film as a collective you can see there is a very good DT here. He is not a nose tackle, he’s the supplementary guy that can rush the passer, and hold lineman up while LB’s make plays. I think he has greater potential and better ability than FA Jason Jones, and would also be cheaper. He would be on my radar as a guy I could start for a long time if I could continue to develop him. He fits Fisher to a “T”, but I’m not sure about Williams. This is the biggest risk on my board because I don’t know how well he fits Williams, “Giant Meatball” tackle philosophy. His film really jumps out to me, and I think he will be the JJ Watt of this class (yes, I’m aware Watt plays DE in a 3-4).
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers: Here is a great talent that has been somewhat hidden over in New Jersey at Rutgers, and that is ultimately why he is here in the third round. This is a great WR class. There are so many good guys that will slip into the first and second rounds (Criner, Adams, Wright, Quick, Jeffery, Toon, McNutt), and it is likely that several will be here in the third. I believe Sanu will be one of them, and I think he will have an advocate inside the Rams Park in our new quaterbacks coach, Cignetti, who was the OC at Rutgers last year. He is being compared to Victor Cruz and Mike Williams (Tampa Bay), and would be a welcome addition to our “D+” receiving core. He will be an NFL starter.
Josh Kaddu, OLB, Oregon: A great talent for a position on the weakside at linebacker. A guy who plays at a very-quick and at a ferocious speed all the time. He is a very special athlete that will excel at the combine. He can be very fast off the edge, or burst off into coverage to stay tight on the new-breed TE’s in the league. He will have trouble in the run sometimes because he is only about 235lbs with a frame that is maxed out; however, he can make plays in space and would be a great fit for what Williams does. He showed at the Senior Bowl that he can play in the NFL. he would also be a great contributor on special teams.
Micheal Brewster, C, Ohio State: The Senior Bowl didn’t help Micheal’s stock any, he struggled a bit at times, but lucky for him I still believe he is a top 3 center in this class. I also believe he is a more-than-capable starting NFL lineman. He can push our veteran in this role for starting time this year. We need that competition here to prove we are putting the best guys on the field, and eventually I think Brewster will be that guy for a team in the NFL.
"Fifth Round (Rams currently do not own picks here, I know)"
Dionte Paige-Moss, DE, UNC: Robert Quinn, Quinton Coples, Julius Peppers– let’s face it the University of North Carolina basically exudes elite DE’s. In Moss’s case he never quite put it all together before an ACL put him out for the year. People had him pegged for a breakout in 2011 that would put him in the first round. This is a high-risk, high-reward pick. Paige could bust hard, but he has elite talent, and if you have a strong trust in your coaching staff you could feel really good about this pick. He is a speedy, long-armed, pass-rushing DE that could rotate in all year. He was a top 5 recruit out of HS and deserves a real shot in the NFL. The great thing about our new coaching staff is that we have the ability to develop these guys.
Sep 3, 2011; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks safety Jerico Nelson Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
Jerico Nelson, SS, Arkansas: A physically gifted strong safety that was designed to play in the box. He is very shifty and can disguise his coverage well. With the right coaching he could breakout in a scheme like Williams’. The trick for him will be learning to play smart. He will have to become entrenched in our defense so that he can make plays in the run, pass, and while rushing the passer. The physical ability is there, it’s just a matter of coaching him so that he is in the right place to make a play. This is something he struggled with on the limited tape I saw. We don’t desperately need a SS– but depth is painfully necessary, as we all know, and he could eventually become a staple like Blaine Bishop was for the Titans.
That concludes a short synopsis of some of the best guys for the Rams in this years draft. Please leave your comments below, I will be interested to hear other fans thoughts. Next week I will post the top players by round that the Rams should stay away from.