With a new general manager and a new coach, the St. Louis Rams are hoping that the 2009 season will also bring with it new results. It seems like eons ago when the Rams were one of the elite teams in the NFL and were a playoff regular every season.
Now the playoffs are just something that the Rams watch with a passing interest instead of participating in. With general manager Billy Devaney and head coach Steve Spagnuolo, though, Rams fans are hoping that there will also be a change in performance on the field.
St. Louis has added a big piece to the offseason puzzle in the form of free agent center Jason Brown. His signing will allow Richie Incognito to remain at his natural guard position. The Rams also re-signed cornerback Ron Bartell to help shore up their defensive backfield.
While there still remains work to be done in deciding the future of Torry Holt, the main focus for the Rams lies in April’s NFL Draft. Where will the Rams look to try to find some impact players to help them go from playoff pretender to postseason contender?
Here is what the Rams should do in the upcoming draft:
First Round, Pick No. 2
The Rams’ selection here obviously depends on what the Detroit Lions do with the first pick of the draft. Almost every mock draft has the Rams picking offensive lineman Jason Brown of Baylor or Eugene Monroe of Virginia.
While the Rams do need help on the offensive line, what they should do with this pick is take the most athletic player available in the draft—linebacker Aaron Curry of Wake Forest.
Curry excelled in every aspect of the NFL Combine in February and looks to be the kind of impact linebacker who only comes along once in a blue moon. If the Rams draft Curry, they can allow Will Witherspoon to remain at middle linebacker and it would give the team one of the strongest linebacking squads in the league.
Second Round, Pick No. 35
By passing on an offensive lineman in the first round, the Rams can still get a quality blocker with the 35th pick. If he is available, the Rams should take offensive tackle Jamon Meredith of South Carolina.
Meredith isn’t a 350-pound lineman (he weighs in at around 290), but he is quick and strong and would go a long way in shoring up the Rams’ offensive line.
Third Round, Pick No. 66
When you start to get to the later rounds in the draft, it can be anyone’s guess as to which players are still available. Most mock drafts have a player available at this time when the Rams will be making their third pick who can help the team at a number of positions—West Virginia quarterback Pat White.
With White, the Rams could give themselves a legitimate future quarterback to replace Marc Bulger. They could also acquire a player who could play wide receiver, slot back and who could help in the return game.
White impressed everyone at the NFL Combine with his character and skills.
Fourth Round, Pick No. 99 – Continuing to shore up the offensive line is always a good thing in the NFL, and if he is available with this pick, the Rams could do a lot worse than Illinois offensive tackle Xavier Fulton.
Fulton was a late bloomer at Illinois, but he is big (6'5", 300) and strong (27 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press at the NFL Combine).
If Fulton isn’t available, the Rams should go with offensive guard Kraig Urbik of Wisconsin. Urbik started 39-straight games for Wisconsin and had bench-pressed 225-pounds 29 times at the NFL Combine.