St. Louis Rams: Let the Rebuilding Process...Continue

Ron Johnson@TLCCaptainSenior Writer IApril 19, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO. - JANUARY 19:  Newly appointed St. Louis Rams' head coach Steve Spagnuolo addresses the media during his introductory press conference on January 19, 2009 at the Russell Training Center in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The hardest thing about being a hometown fan is realizing that your team was so much better one lifetime ago.

This can be said about the Oakland Raiders, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Detroit Lions and of course, the St. Louis Rams.

But the Rams have been going downhill since the departure of the Warners. Not since their impressive run in 2001-02 all the way to the Patriotic Super Bowl against New England. Since then, the Rams have made friends with teams in the basement of the NFL.

Seven years after the Patriotic Run, and four coaches later, the Rams are still looking for answers.

And the list of The Departed continues to increase as The Greatest Show on Turf tries to resurrect that moniker:

Mike Martz

Kurt Warner

Isaac Bruce

Torry Holt

Orlando Pace

The list continues to grow with every passing day.

While Chicago and Denver made the most noise in the offseason, the Rams flew under the radar. After giving Bruce his walking papers two seasons ago, they decided to honor Torry Holt's legacy...by releasing him.

Now Holt is possibly heading to Jacksonville, while Bruce had a moderately productive first year in San Francisco.

Now, new head coach Steve Spagnuolo is stuck trying to find a way to bring this team back to the dominance they showed at the beginning of the century. So what do the Rams need to focus on heading into this weekend's draft?

Let's start with the basics.

Rams Offense

No high-octane receivers could handle the deep ball better than Torry Holt. For possession purposes, look no further than Isaac Bruce. Now they're both gone, and the Rams are looking everywhere for suitable replacements.

Donnie Avery is good, but he cannot do this on his own. With two of the biggest and best receivers entering the draft, the Rams couldn't have picked a better year to work on the first stretch of the offense.

Forget finding backups for Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson, and ignore finding a replacement for Orlando Pace, at least for this moment. If the Rams were smart, they would have tried to deal Holt instead of releasing him outright.

In the quarterback position, there was a reason Boller was sent packing from Baltimore: He's iffy when it comes to clutch performance.

We already know that Matthew Stafford will most likely be the first round draft pick for Detroit (no matter how much they aren't talking). With Michael Vick being released in the next few months, he needs a change for the better...and so do the Rams.

Bulger is on borrowed time not because of his playing but because of his age. Now Vick isn't the best choice, but he was a proven quarterback before the dogfighting anarchy.

In regards to running back, Jackson has done as much as his body will allow as the successor to Marshall Faulk's throne in St. Louis.

They have to realize that this isn't Denver, and they need the pass as much as the run to get victories this season.

There is no telling whether Antonio Pittman has the stamina he had early in his career, and Brian Leonard continues to be relegated to the fullback position.

Now comes the two biggest needs on offense: The line and the receivers.

The offensive line took a huge hit with the departure of Orlando Pace to Chicago. Is Alex Barron a proven success at Pace's old position? Who knows?

But just in case, the Rams grabbed Jason Brown, and "experts" are believing that they will grab Jason Smith out of Baylor to further add depth to the offensive line.

The experts claim that the offensive line is the greatest area of need for St. Louis, but I think it shares the spotlight with another area of need for the Rams.

As for receivers, look no further than either Jeremy Maclin out of Missouri, Michael Crabtree out of Texas Tech or Percy Harvin out of Florida. Maclin was great possession receiver with the Tigers last season.

Crabtree was the impact player for the Red Raiders. Hands down. As for Harvin, the Rams need toughness in this position, and in regards to Percy Harvin, it doesn't get tougher than that.

So in my eyes, it comes down to Baylor's Jason Smith and Florida's Percy Harvin. The Rams shouldn't make the same mistake twice by passing on a draft gem and taking another draft bust.

But Chris Long proved his worth last season and could be an even more dangerous member of the D-Line this upcoming season. So who gets the call on Saturday?

Prediction: Percy Harvin. As much as the Steve-O wants to bring in Smith, he needs to start from the outside and work his way to the inside. How many times can you draft an offensive or defensive linemen before you think outside the box?

As much as McShay and Kiper want Smith to be No. 2, this is a moment for the Rams to think about the guys who will step in and accept the roles left by the loss of Bruce and Holt.

Rams Defense

There is no question that Chris Long and Leonard Little are the anchors of the Rams Defense. But the Rams will need more than just Long and Little to keep quarterbacks and receivers from getting closer acquainted to each other.

But even worse, the Rams rushing defense was among the worst in the league. But who could possibly step up and make the most noise for them this season? As well as the draft?

There are way too many holes on the defense for the Rams to focus on filling the loss of Orlando Pace. It's obvious that this is the road that "experts" claim the Rams should take.

They feel that Brown is the best one out there, but what does that mean for the defense. Take away the injury-riddled players, and what do you got left? Not much.

Adam Carriker left his toughness in Lincoln with the Huskers, while Tye Hill has been more thorn than help. Steve-O managed to snag James Butler and get Ron Bartell back in the secondary.

Chris Draft needs help in the linebacker position, since Will Witherspoon has always been a gametime decision. Pisa Tinoisamoa is good, but can he manage to lead this group of former bad-asses to the next level?

So who can the Rams get to start this winds of change in the Gateway City?

Prediction: James Laurinaitis. Ask anyone in Buckeye Country if they know Joe, and they'll most likely say that they know Joe...and James. While father was dominating the WWE ring, son was feasting on Wolverines Baby Back Ribs. 

Laurinaitis has proven that he can adjust when it counts. He has speed and strength, but what makes him a great pick is his intelligence on the field.

With a guy like Spagnuolo at the helm, this could turn into a match made in heaven...or a match made in anarchy. 

Rams Special Teams

Simply put: Give the ball to Dante Hall...because he's not the same threat he used to be in KC.


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