By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
Déjà vu? St. Louis had the second pick in the draft last season, and now seem to be here again. After consistent success in the first half of the decade, the Rams have won a mere five games in the last two years.
That kind of efficiency leads to new faces at the top. The 2009 Rams bring in new GM Billy Devaney and new head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Both have succeeded before, and fully expect to in the infamously horrific NFC West. Although, with a lot of needs to fill, the seeds of success have to be planted in this first draft. With seven picks, the Rams need seven contributors in 2009.
St. Louis Rams Draft Picks:
Round 1, Pick 2 (2)
Round 2, Pick 3 (35)
Round 3, Pick 2 (66)
Round 4, Pick 3 (103)
Round 5, Pick 24 (160)
Round 6, Pick 23 (196)
Round 7, Pick 2 (211)
Team Need 1: OT
Orlando Pace, himself a former No. 1 overall pick for the Rams, has been cut, leaving a huge hole at the left tackle slot. Alex Barron is there right now, but should be moved back to the right side, where he is clearly better. The Rams wanted offensive tackle Jake Long last year, but he went to Miami, so it's quite obvious they will look to fill this hole first.
With Detroit looking long and heavily at quaterback Matthew Stafford, this allows the Rams to focus their efforts on the top two lineman, Jason Smith, a 6-foot-5, 309 pound tackle from Baylor, or Eugene Monroe from Virginia, also 6-foot-5 and 309 pounds. Monroe is the better run blocker, which is key to St. Louis’s offense, but I think the front office will be thrilled with either one as the new franchise left tackle.
Team Need 2: WR
Much like the offensive line, former cornerstone receiver Torry Holt is no longer with the team. This makes Donnie Avery, a 2008 rookie, the top receiver for the Rams. With Marc Bulger on the downhill side of his career, the Rams need to use their second-round pick on a receiver.
There is a nice glut of receivers towards the end of the first round and into the second round. Percy Harvin’s injury history might scare a team or two, or Kenny Britt might fall into their laps. With a lot of teams in the first round looking at receivers, the Rams might have to make a move, because there is not a whole lot of quality beyond the first handful, and for a team looking to grab a franchise receiver, they cannot afford to sit on this one.
Team Need 3: LB
Spagnuolo loves blitzing. He learned under famed blitz-package defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, and demands a high level of speed and effort from his front seven. It wouldn’t surprise many if the team was taking a close look at Aaron Curry, arguably the top prospect in the draft, but that would force them to look at a lineman later on.
Considering an offensive lineman is the most pressing need, and the Rams do have Will Witherspoon and Chris Draft, who, despite injury concerns, can perform at a high level.
With the injuries, though, they will need a middle linebacker who can help keep Witherspoon at the outside, and give this team some strength and depth. If they wait until the fourth round, they could be looking at Jasper Brinkley or Jason Phillips, two of the top four middle linebackers in the draft. They shouldn’t look to jump for one of these in the third, as both should be waiting later on.
It has been a few years since St. Louis has had some glory moments, but with a new regime, if they can get the right mix of rookies and veterans, a competitive team could easily be fielded. Catch some lightning in a bottle, and this is a team that could surprise a few heads in the NFC West.