St. Louis Rams' Most Under and Overrated Offseason Additions
Generally, fans of the St. Louis Rams praise just about every offseason pickup. It's not a mindset specific to St. Louis, either, as most team's fans view even low-key additions as potential keys to salvation—it's simply part of the football fan psychology.
Many offseason acquisitions are indeed grossly overrated (fans want to believe their team got a bargain), but it's also possible for lesser-known pickups to be underrated, especially if it's a backup player or a late-round draft pick who lacks name recognition.
This article will sort through several of the new faces at Rams Park and determine who is under and overrated. The list will be compiled by weighing the hype versus actual on-field expectations.
Underrated: Mo Alexander, Safety
Mo Alexander, a small-school prospect out of Utah State, was a fairly shocking selection in the fourth round. He lacked the name recognition and popularity of several of the other players still on the board at the time (DaQuan Jones, Cyril Richardson, Tre Boston, etc.).
I was one of many who mildly criticized the pick, but like most members of Rams Nation, I've more than warmed up to the selection.
He has an incredible story. He was recently a janitor at the Edward Jones Dome, but he was obviously able to return to football and make it into the NFL. Also, his intensity and work ethic on the field is second to none.
As a result, it's pretty hard to root against him at this point.
Alexander does not receive the same level of recognition as some of the other rookies (Greg Robinson, Aaron Donald, Tre Mason), but he certainly should. He'll be competing for the starting job and will contribute heavily in 2014.
The Rams have had incredible luck with mid-round picks the last two seasons. In 2012, rookie fourth-rounder Chris Givens became an immediate impact player at wide receiver. And in 2013, rookie fifth-round selection Zac Stacy solidified the run game and produced over 900 rushing yards in just 12 games.
With that said, expect Alexander to continue the tradition by becoming the new Givens and Stacy of the 2014 season—a mid-round rookie who makes an immediate impact.
Overrated: Michael Sam, Defensive End
However, as a pragmatist, I'm willing to acknowledge that the expectations for Sam's on-field play easily exceed that of a typical seventh-round selection. He has such overwhelming support that he'll be expected to accomplish feats that are far too uncommon for late-round selections, such as earning regular playing time or simply making the final roster.
Would I be thrilled to see Sam crack the final roster and make a difference on Sundays? Absolutely. However, if we weigh the sky-high expectations against Sam's capabilities as a player, it's not unfair to peg him as overrated, as much as it kills me to say it.
Underrated: Shaun Hill, Quarterback
This might not be saying much, but veteran Shaun Hill is a monumental improvement over former backup quarterback Kellen Clemens, and he's more than capable of stepping into the starting role if necessary.
The 34-year-old passer has not started a single game the past three seasons, but he stepped in for 10 games with the Detroit Lions in 2010 and finished with a respectable 16-12 touchdown-interception ratio and nice 61.8 percent completion rate.
He's far superior to Clemens as a pocket passer. If Hill is forced to step in at any point in 2014, the Rams will be able to maintain their well-balanced offense without transforming into a one-dimensional unit that relies solely on the run, as they did last season.
Sam Bradford has missed 15 games in four seasons, so the Rams were in desperate need of a reliable backup capable of carrying the team. Hill is certainly that guy, which makes him a very valuable and underrated member of the roster.
Overrated: Alex Carrington, Defensive Tackle
Alex Carrington is expected to be a solid contributor as part of the defensive tackle rotation, and while he's certainly capable of being just that, it's best to maintain expectations.
He's a former starter with the Buffalo Bills and has the talent to make an impact, but fans are generally pegging him as a Kendall Langford-type pickup, when in reality he's probably closer to Trevor Laws on the potential spectrum.
Carrington has just four sacks in four NFL seasons, so he's certainly not the typical sack artist that St. Louis tends to pursue. Also, like Langford, Carrington is better suited as a 3-4 defensive end, so it's likely he'll experience the typical transitional pains we tend to see in these situations.
It's not that Carrington is disgustingly overrated in any way, it's just that he really should be viewed as a low-risk gamble rather than a guaranteed contributor in the rotation. From what I sense from the fans, most are unfortunately leaning toward the latter.
Underrated: Gregg Williams, Defensive Coordinator
When Jeff Fisher took over the franchise in 2012, one of his first moves was the hiring of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. That track was obviously derailed thanks to Williams' highly publicized involvement with the Bountygate scandal, sending the defense into limbo.
Since then, the Rams pushed through one season without a defensive coordinator and suffered through the next season with an underqualified play-caller in Tim Walton.
Now, with Williams back in St. Louis, it's finally time to cut the nonsense and tap into the monstrous potential on the defensive side of the ball.
With Williams' expertise and effectiveness as a coordinator, he'll likely prove to be the single most vital pickup of the entire offseason. When the Rams conclude the 2014 season with a top-five defense, you'll understand why.
Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams' game-day correspondent. You can find more of Gerwel's work by visiting his writer profile or by following him on Twitter.