The St. Louis Rams addressed some needs, but were not able to address them all in this year’s NFL draft.
Even with 11 total draft picks, the Rams did not fill needs at defensive line or safety.
They did, however, pick their quarterback of the future, added a dynamic wide receiver, got an offensive tackle, a pair of corners, two tight ends, three defensive ends and an inside linebacker.
First round, pick 1: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
The release of Marc Bulger made this an obvious selection. Bradford was at the top of the Rams’ board for weeks, and was the best quarterback in the draft.
While Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen was not selected until the second round by Carolina, in hindsight, the Rams could have selected Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh No. 1 overall and taken Clausen in the second.
But because Clausen was a first-round prospect, Bradford was the right choice.
Second round, pick 1 (33): Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana
Expected to either select a wide receiver here, or trade out of the pick, Rams general manager Billy Devaney and head coach Steve Spagnuolo decided instead to protect their QB of the future with the all-Big Ten tackle.
Saffold was a solid starter for more than three seasons for the Hoosiers and allowed just one sack as a senior—to Wisconsin’s O’Brien Schofield, who was second in tackles for a loss last season and defensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Game this spring.
Devaney said they never received a good enough offer for the pick, and Saffold, a first-round prospect, was at the top of their board.
Third round, pick 1 (65), Jerome Murphy, CB, South Florida
Murphy is a big, physical corner who likes to hit. Modeling his cover skills after his childhood idol, Deion Sanders, Murphy is different from Sanders in that he likes to come up and make tackles.
He’s expected to play right away, filling a need at corner, can provide depth in nickel situations and play special teams.
Fourth round, pick 1 (99), Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati
Everybody loves a comeback story, and Gilyard has been through a lifetime’s worth of adversity. He’s overcome it every time, and those intangibles are what the Rams love about him. He is also a special kick returner and a superb run-after-the-catch player.
What he isn’t is big. Lacking a true, big No. 1, the Rams passed on receivers like Regus Benn in the second round, then took the 5'11", 178 pound Gilyard in the fourth.
Good value here? Without a doubt. But not sure he’s a good fit on a team that already has a plethora of small, fast receivers.
Fifth round, pick 1 (132), Michael Hoomanawanui, TE, Illinois
Hoomanawanui was hampered by an ankle injury his senior season limited him to just five starts and 10 catches following a junior campaign that saw him earn all-Big Ten honors.
A big body and solid run blocker, he doesn’t have elite speed. But Spagnuolo said he’s got good “all-around” skills. The fact that Hoomanawanui has family in the St. Louis Metro East areas of Alton and Jerseyville, Ill., could sell a few more tickets.
Fifth round, pick 18 (149), Hall Davis, DE, Louisiana-Lafayette
Played in both 3-4 and 4-3 systems in college, and is very athletic at 6'4", 271 pounds. His productivity in college wasn’t great, finishing with six career sacks, but he was an all-Sun Belt selection and does have pass rush ability.
Remembering that a “C” grade is average, the selection of Davis doesn’t wow anybody, but mid-fifth round, didn’t upset anybody either.
Sixth round, pick 1 (170), Fendi Onobun, TE, Houston
Following four years of college basketball at Arizona, Onobun played one season of football at the University of Houston—his first year of organized football since seventh grade.
He caught two passes for 33 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown. Not exactly a gang-buster.
But when you’ve got a guy who’s 6'6", 252 pounds who can run a 4.49 40 and possesses incredible leaping ability, you “take a flier” on the guy, which were the words Devaney used. His upside is huge, but so’s his learning curve.
Sixth round, pick 20 (189), Eugene Sims, DE, West Texas A&M
Tapping into the West Texas A&M pipeline for the second straight year, the Rams selected Sims, who was a small schools All-American last season at the D-II school.
Last year the Rams took quarterback Keith Null from West Texas A&M in the sixth round. “We own West Texas,” Devaney joked.
Undersized, but productive, in college, Sims has added 15 pounds through weightlifting and eating.
Seventh round, pick 4 (211), Marquis Johnson, DB, Alabama
Another versatile defensive back, Johnson was part of a three-man rotation at Alabama—all of whom were drafted. He provides depth to the secondary and can play special teams with experience as a punt returner.
A solid player from a name program with the nation’s top defense, Johnson doesn’t have great speed, but is a safe pick in the seventh round.
Seventh round, pick 19 (226), George Selvie, DE, South Florida
Going back to South Florida, the Rams took the 2007 defensive player of the year. In his four years under coach Jim Leavitt, Selvie set schools records for tackles for a loss and sacks.
While undersized at 6'3", 232 pounds, Selvie is a relentless pass rusher with incredible reach. His production decreased over his junior and senior seasons, slowed by injuries and double teams.
Not using those as excuses, Selvie is anxious for a new start. It’s not often that a player with Selvie’s resume falls to the seventh round, and sitting at Rams Park on Saturday, I loved this selection when it was announced.
Seventh round, pick 47 (compensatory, 254), Josh Hull, ILB, Penn State
A former walk-on for the Nittany Lions, Hull became one of Linebacker U’s most productive tacklers, leading the team as a senior. He isn’t the fastest, but has a nose for the ball and experience playing special teams.
Glad to be wanted, the Rams found great value here with the second-to-last pick of the draft. Still a bit surprised they didn’t go with a defensive tackle like East Carolina’s Jay Ross or take a flier on Missouri receiver Denario Alexander.
Overall draft grade: B
There were some really good picks, but some that you questioned because of who else was on the board. Apparently, the Rams are happy at defensive tackle with the signing of Fred Robbins and the re-signing of Gary Gibson and Clifton Ryan.
The receiving corps was decimated last year, so when healthy, maybe it will perform better than most expect. Now we go back to free agency, so it will be interesting to see where the Rams go from here.
This article can also be found at The Alton Telegraph .