2008 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams

Sean CroweSenior Writer IJanuary 25, 2008

Previous Pick: NFL-Miami_Dolphins-2008_NFL_Draft_Strategy_The_Miami_Dolphins-230108">Miami Dolphins: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU

The St. Louis Rams are now on the clock.

Saying the St. Louis Rams’ season was a disappointment is like saying Michael Vick was just a bad pet owner.  

Or Jessica Simpson is only mildly retarded. 

Or my Tom Brady interview was only a little funny (Shameless self-promotion RULES!).

Point is, it’s a massive understatement.

Scott Linehan was able to fly under the national radar only because Cam Cameron was busy Buccaneers-Imperfection_Denied_Dolphins_Fall_Short_of_76_Bucs-171207">trying to make history in Miami.  

Yes, the Rams suffered a massive amount of injuries, especially at the offensive line, but they were still talented enough to win in the pathetic NFC West. 

And they did win—three whole games.

This is how bad the Rams were—they gave up 438 points (one more than the Miami Dolphins) and only scored 263 (four less than the Miami Dolphins). 

We haven’t seen futility like this in the NFL since that classic 1992 New England Patriots team that, coincidentally, almost moved to St. Louis. 

The Rams have a choice to make with their first round pick. 

I believe they have enough talent at the skill positions that they’re not even going to look at McFadden or Ryan (or any other skill position player, for that matter) in the first round.

Trading out is a possibility, as someone may offer a king’s ransom to move up and select McFadden ahead of the Falcons, but I’m not holding my breath.

The Pick:  Jake Long, OT, Michigan

I’ve gone back and forth on this one, but in the end the Rams cannot risk another season where their franchise quarterback is sacked 2,462 times before week eight. 

Orlando Pace’s injury had a profound effect on the offensive line’s pass-blocking.  If he returns to form next year, they're probably OK at offensive tackle for the short term.  

But on the other hand. I can’t remember an NFL team complaining about being too deep at offensive tackle.

Plus, if Pace doesn’t come back 100% healthy it’ll be nice to still have a big, pass-blocking, athletic left tackle keeping the Marc Bulger's blind-side clean.

Close Second:  Chris Long, DE, Virginia

I’ve read in a couple of different places that the Rams are looking to switch to a base 3-4 defense this season (they ran a little 3-4 last season, but they were still a base 4-3 defense). 

That’s all well and good, but you need players that actually fit that type of system (which presently, they don’t have).  Chris Long has the size and strength (and NFL pedigree) to play defensive end in the 3-4. 

Long is the clear second choice among draft eligible defensive linemen (behind Glenn Dorsey), but he’s no normal consolation prize.  He does everything well.  He’s strong, can stop the run, holds his gap, can keep offensive linemen off his linebackers and can even get to the quarterback on occasion.

He doesn't have Dorsey's athleticism or pass rushing skills, but his strength and toughness go a long way towards making up for what he lacks in those categories.

No matter which Long they select (Jake or Chris), the Rams will be drafting a stud at a position of need. 

Sleeper Choice: Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB, Ohio State

If they are going to make the switch to the 3-4, they’ll also need some playmaking linebackers.  Defensive linemen are important in the 3-4, but the linebackers are the heart of that style defense.

Gholston was a defensive end in college, but he projects to an outside linebacker in the 3-4.   The version of defensive end that Ohio State employs is a little bit different than the norm, in that they have to drop back into coverage on occasion. For lack of a better description, the "Leo" is more like an outside linebacker that plays with his hand on the ground.

He should be well prepared to make the switch to outside linebacker in the NFL. 

Gholston was the only player to register a sack against Jake Long this season, and completely tore up the entire Michigan offensive line.  He’s a playmaker, flat out.  If the Rams’ brain-trust is high on him, they could reach for him with the second pick.

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