With the 2008 NFL Draft, new hopes will emerge for all 32 NFL teams. The second pick in the draft the St. Louis Rams have a chance to draft a playmaker that will allow them to hopefully contend in the upcoming years. With a stunning trio of defensive line prospects, Virginia’s Chris Long, Ohio State’s Vernon Gholston and LSU’s Glenn Dorsey, the Rams would have to TRY to screw this one up. Based on their previous drafts, I wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to.
Although the Rams put up horrid offensive numbers last season, it’s actually the better side of the ball for them. Bulger, Jackson and Holt are as talented a trio as any in the league. The key is protecting and helping them. Orlando Pace, Richie Incognito, Mark Setterstrom, Adam Goldberg and Todd Steusie all suffered injuries along the offensive line. It’s safe to assume that this won’t happen again. Additionally, the Rams top 5 WRs were hurt at some point during the season. Again, durability can only improve. So it’s safe to say that the pick would be best spent on defense.
Analyzing the Rams’ defensive stats, I realized the team needs help in every facet. The team was 20th in run-defense, but equally terrible in the air with the 21st pass-defense. But some flashes of talent were shown in the secondary, especially from Tye Hill and O.J. Atogwe.
All that being said, the defensive line is still left screaming for help. Adam Carriker was solid as a rookie and he could be a Pro-Bowler in years to come. With the durability of Leonard Little and James Hall in deep question, the Rams need a rusher to distract pressure from the interior line.
This is where Long and Gholston would help immensely. Both are edge-rushers with speed and size who will be able to penetrate the backfield and possibly OLB in the 3-4 defense, which the Rams could possibly switch to should Scott Linehan get fired. Glenn Dorsey would not only provide a force to be reckoned with on the interior, but also allow Carriker the freedom to slide back to the outside. Although his health is in question, Dorsey has proven to be an immense talent. Any of these three players would help the Rams D get to the quarterback and slow the opposing ground game.
I think Long is the best pick. Long has the pedigree to be an amazing player, he’s more consistent than Gholston and he didn’t play with the same level of talent that Gholston played with. He had the same amount of sacks and arguably affected teams more, playing on a less talented team.
Dorsey isn’t the answer for a couple reasons. Carriker was so successful in the interior, the Rams shouldn’t mess with that. But the biggest question mark about Dorsey is his health. The Rams were horrible last season largely due to injuries. Dorsey broke down at the college level, so there’s no telling what the NFL would do to his body.
The Rams’ options here seem pretty clear, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them throw a curveball. The obvious choice would be to put one of these studs at the d-line. John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt have dropped the ball so many times, drafting Matt Ryan or Darren McFadden, two talented players the team doesn’t need, wouldn’t shock me in the least.
Shoring up an old, weak, fragile defensive line will help on both sides of the ball, breaking up the opposing QB’s pocket and taking pressure off Bulger and the offense. We can only hope the team’s choice helps them improve in 2008. They can’t get much worse.