Being a Rams fan this time of year is usually very painful. The Rams executives in charge of the draft have notoriously made some terrible draft picks. In this decade alone the Rams have selected in the first round in “suck”cession—Trung Candidate (2000), Damione Lewis, Adam Archuleta, and Ryan Pickett (2001), Robert Thomas (2002), Jimmy Kennedy (2003), Alex Barron (2005), and Tye Hill (2006).
The only standout came from the 2004 Draft with the selection of franchise running back Steven Jackson. And it is too early to say whether last year’s first round pick Adam Carriker, will become a solid NFL pro or become another bust like the aforementioned bums. All of these recent draft nightmares got me to thinking who I would take if I were in charge of the Rams War Room. So for all you Rams fans out there here is whom I would take if I were given the keys to the franchise.
First Round: Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State
The Rams need to add another pass-rusher opposite Leonard Little. Little, who is 34 and recovering from off-season toe surgery, has had a stellar NFL career since being drafted by the Rams in the third round out of Tennessee. But besides Little, the Rams have such notables as Victor Adeanyju and Eric Moore to man the right defensive end position. Gholston, who I favor at this point over Virginia DE Chris Long, has the ability to get to the quarterback and make plays. After an outstanding career with the Buckeyes, Gholston has really opened scouts eyes with his performance at the Combine and at his Pro Day in Columbus.
The knock on Gholston is that he tends to take plays off and is a bit raw in regards to his technique. Some will argue that the Rams should take a Long, (Chris or Jake) or perhaps Glen Dorsey. But I think that Gholston is more of a playmaker than Chris Long is at this point. He embarrassed Jake Long for a sack this season when the Buckeyes played Michigan, and Glen Dorsey’s injuries has forced me to re-evaluate the top prospects and send Gholston skyrocketing up draft boards and end up with the Rams at pick number two.
Second Round: Branden Albert, OG, Virginia
Imagine the Rams surprise when Virginia OG Branden Albert falls into their laps at pick #33. The Rams up to that point probably had a wide receiver penciled in for the second round or possibly even a cornerback. I am thinking Mario Manningham or Justin King, but Albert is too good to pass up.
The Rams offensive line was decimated last season by injury and depth on the line is a priority for the Rams heading into the draft. And although the Rams signed Jacob Bell in free agency to play guard, the selection of Albert allows starting right guard Richie Incognito to slide over and play center, the position he played in college.
If Albert happens to be scooped up before pick 33, I would then consider taking a receiver, Manningham, Michigan State’s Devin Thomas and LSU’s Early Doucet should all be available and capable of one day filling the shoes of future Hall of Fame receiver Isaac Bruce, but…
Third Round: Eddie Royal, WR, Virginia Tech
…the reason I was able to pass on a receiver in the second round and take the best guard in the draft was because I was gambling that Virginia Tech speedster Eddie Royal would be available. Royal is a threat to score every time the ball is in his hands. His speed and his playmaking ability were the two primary factors on why I passed up some of his more accomplished contemporaries at the receiver position.
Royal is also a dangerous return man a luxury that the Rams have lacked since Tony Horne skipped town in 2000. Under Torry Holt’s tutelage, Royal should improve as a route runner, which will allow him to optimize his speed and create space. With the addition of Al Saunders as Rams offensive coordinator, Royal could be used in various creative ways to get more involved in the offense. Ultimately, I envision him developing into a legitimate No.1 Receiver in the NFL, in the Steve Smith (Carolina) mold.
Fourth Round: Tommy Blake, DE, TCU
Going into his senior season Blake was regarded as a top twenty-five prospect. After being diagnosed as bi-polar and seeing his weight balloon from 255 to 287, Blake’s stock has taking a hit, falling all the way to the Rams at the beginning of Round Four.
The lack of depth at defensive end and Blake’s pure talent give me enough reason to take a flyer on Blake. At 3-13 the Rams are not in a position to pass up someone with his potential. If he plays up to his ability, Blake coupled with Gholston could wreak havoc on NFL quarterbacks for years. If he reverts back to his senior season form, he ends up in the trash heap pile with the rest of wasted potential the Rams have exhausted a draft pick on. (See Claude Wroten, Eric Crouch, and Lawrence Phillips)
Fifth Round: Colt Brennan, QB, Hawaii
Rams starting quarterback Marc Bulger took a beating last season behind a patchwork offensive line. The team signed 38-year-old Trent Green, who is coming back from a series of concussions that ended his season early in Miami, to be his back up. The third string QB is Brock Berlin, who hasn’t been a good signal caller since high school. Maybe we could sign Joe Germaine, who’s tearing up the AFL to come back and suit up for the Rams? Simply put, the Rams need to develop a young quarterback, as either an insurance policy for Bulger or somebody to one day take over the reins as the starter.
Colt Brennan is an intriguing prospect, before the Sugar Bowl against Hawaii; he was regarded as a first day NFL draft pick. After that game, questions about the level of competition he consistently played against and that fact that he played in June Jones’ high-powered offense caused his stock to slip in the eyes of many. What caught my attention in regards to Brennan were his live arm and his moxie. The kid has confidence and is a talented thrower. I would be anxious to see if he could develop under the guidance of Al Saunders and head coach Scott Linehan, who was a college quarterback himself. I firmly believe that Michigan’s Chad Henne is the premier QB of this class, but I would have had to step up and probably take him at pick #33 in the second round, so I believe Brennan in the fifth to be a nice consolation prize.
Sixth Round: Jamie Silva, FS, Boston College
The Rams two starting safeties last season, Corey Chavous and O.J. Atogwe are awful tacklers. While both possess above average ball skills, the number of missed tackles alone has led me to take Jamie Silva in the sixth Round. When I would watch BC play last season, Silva’s play made me stand up and take notice. While his college teammate, Matt Ryan got all the pub; I feel it was Silva who at times was the best player to suit up for Boston College.
Silva is a strong tackler who is always around the ball. I don’t envision him starting right away, but he can make the team with strong special teams play and should eventually blossom under the coaching of defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. But most likely he will end up on the practice squad, the Rams recently re-signed veteran safety Jerome Carter to back up Chavous and Atogwe and Ron Bartell can play either the safety or the cornerback position. Silva will definitely have to make his presence felt on special teams during the pre-season to make this squad.
Sixth Round (from Denver): Darnell Jenkins, WR, Miami (Fla)
I have to admit that Jenkins was one of my favorite players in college football last season. He possesses the toughness to go over the middle and plays a lot faster than his timed speed at the Combine and at his Pro-Day (4.57). A 2006 knee injury, slow 40 times and a couple of dropped balls last season are the reasons why he is available for the Rams to take in the 6th Round.
Jenkins could develop into a nice slot receiver and he will bring his toughness to a receiving corpse that has been labeled “soft” and “finesse” by many around the NFL for years. As great as Holt and Bruce are, both of them will avoid contact at all cost after the catch, not Jenkins, he plays with courage, which was no doubt influenced by his tough upbringing as a kid in the Miami area of Liberty City.
I look for Jenkins, not right away, but someday to be a player like they had in Az Hakim and what they thought they had in Shaun McDonald. I know some of this is coming across as biased, but I am not the only one who holds Jenkins in high regards, his teammates at “The U” voted him team MVP. Enough said.
Seventh Round: Orlando Scandrick, CB, Boise St.
Scandrick is a raw talent that was worth taking a look at in the seventh round. His speed is what is so intriguing to me about him, 4.33 timed 40 at the Combine will get him drafted by someone, and the Rams need cornerback help.
Fakhir Brown is a solid NFL corner, not a shut down corner, but a legitimate starter; the starter on the opposite side, Tye Hill is injury prone, too short and honestly not very good. I can’t believe the Rams took Hill over Antonio Cromartie in the ’06 Draft. Ron Bartell is a serviceable back up who plays well when given the opportunity to start. Last year’s third round pick, Jonathan Wade has yet to show the coaching staff that he is ready to handle the nickel back duties full-time. With Mike Martz, now in San Francisco and Arizona’s arsenal of weapons, cornerback play could decide the NFC West.
You might ask me, if I felt so strongly about the cornerback position, why didn’t I address this need till the seventh round?
The answer is simple, if I was truly in charge of the Rams draft, I would have traded our second round pick, #33 overall to the Atlanta Falcons for cornerback D’Angelo Hall. The Falcons would probably end up selecting Michigan quarterback Chad Henne with the 33rd pick, which would really get under my skin if skin if I controlled the War Room.
So I would like to thank you for allowing to indulge myself and once again play fantasy GM, I am quite sure there will be a score of you who disagree immensely, but I would still stick with the 8 guys who I have touched on.
Any of you who suggest that the Rams should take Jake Long in the first round will be kicking yourself five years from now when he is suiting up for the Ottawa Roughriders of the CFL. I am only kidding, but I still think he is just ok.