First, I want to let everyone know that I am a fan of Rams running back Steven Jackson. He plays with heart, has the speed to take it the distance, and the strength to pick up the tough yards. He catches the ball out of the backfield better than any other back, evidenced by his 90 receptions in 2006. Jackson is one of the top three running backs in the NFL and should be for a few more years.
With that being said, Jackson is not very popular in St. Louis among many Rams fans. He is perceived as cocky, outspoken and concerned more about the music they play at the Edward Jones Dome than he is about beating the 49ers on Sunday.
I personally don't agree with the large percentage of the Rams fans base. If those same fans who hate on Jackson because of his dreads or whatever would actually watch the games, they would see a player who never gave up last season and at times was the only player on the team who seemed like he wanted to win.
And another thing, I agree with Jackson, the music they play at The Dome is awful. It is an outdated type of music I have dubbed "receding rock" because most of the fans of that type of music have a receding hair line. Instead of pumping up the fans with say Lil' Jon and The East Side Boyz, we are subjected to Sammy Hagar and Joe Walsh.
Regardless, the point I am trying to make is that although I like Steven Jackson and truly believe he is a great player, I still believe that they should consider trading him and drafting Darren McFadden with the second pick in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Here are 5 reasons why....
Jackson's contract expires after the 2008 season and there are no guarantees that he will be back in a Rams uniform in 2009. The Rams also have a lot of money tied up in quarterback Marc Bulger and are going to have to pay up for the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft.
Economically, if Jackson has a big season for the Rams in '08 he might play himself out of what the Rams could comfortably afford. Jackson is also a West Coast guy, not fully appreciated in St. Louis. He might even take slightly less money to sign with Oakland, Arizona, or even Dallas.
The Rams currently have the rights to the second overall pick in the 2008 Draft and depending on who the Miami Dolphins select with the first pick, the Rams have a chance to select the elite player in this draft: Darren McFadden.
I am a strong believer in the philosophy that you select the best player available, regardless of position. The Rams have needs at every position on both sides of the ball except running back, but with the notion that Jackson might be gone after this season they are not in a position to pass on this draft's best player available.
Steven Jackson is a four-year NFL veteran, and for a running back we can assume that he has two or three great years left. I know he will turn 25 before the beginning of next season, but Jackson was a banged up this season and only played in 12 games last year for the Rams.
Jackson is also a high collision, high impact runner who is constantly getting dinged up over the course of a 16 game NFL season. He has also been the Rams workhorse back for the better part of three seasons, averaging 279 carries over that span. The selection of McFadden would give the Rams a younger back with less tread on his tires and his best years ahead of him.
Selecting McFadden would re-energize the Rams fans base. Since Mike Martz was fired as Rams head coach in 2005, the interest in the NFL in St. Louis has waned. Martz, the architect of "The Greatest Show On Turf," spoiled Rams fans with a high-powered, exciting brand of football that was very entertaining to watch.
Since the hiring of Scott Linehan, the Rams offense has become boring and predictable. Our record last season would suggest that we need to change or run the risk of losing the franchise to their former home in Los Angeles. McFadden would bring excitement back to St. Louis and he would instantly become the face of the franchise. Something that they have lacked since Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner were leading the Rams to Super Bowls.
Talent wise, I feel McFadden is a better overall player than Jackson. McFadden did it all for the Razorbacks—running, receiving, throwing, and returning kicks. He is faster than Jackson and more elusive. He is a better cut-back runner and his vision is unmatched by anyone playing in the NFL next season. While Jackson is the stronger of the two, he doesn't always run north and south to take advantage of his size. I believe in two years McFadden will be Jackson's equal catching balls out of the backfield and consistently challenge Adrian Peterson for the NFL rushing title.
I still don't believe the Rams front-office and new player-personnel director Billy Devaney will select McFadden and trade Steven Jackson. I will be happy with Chris Long or Sedrick Ellis, too, both will be good NFL players, in fact I think Long will be great eventually.
But by taking McFadden, the Rams not only help themselves on the football field but also help their economic standing with the city of St. Louis. Now, I usually don't agree with taking a player in order to put butts in the seats, but when there is a possibility that the Rams could someday move back to Los Angeles, I am all for it.