Tag:St. Louis Rams
Posted on: March 10, 2012 12:54 pm
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Rams get bounty, but dropping to No. 6 has risk

In the wake of the bold trade up by the Washington Redskins to secure the rights to one of the two elite quarterbacks of the 2012 draft class you can expect that there will be plenty of media speculation as to whether head coach Mike Shanahan and his staff overpayed. 

The St. Louis Rams, on the other hand, are universally being lauded for their ability to pry first round picks from the Redskins in the 2013 and 2014 drafts, as well as Washington's second round pick this year for only dropping four spots. 

And while I do believe that this trade could be one of the few in which both teams appear to be "winners," it isn't fair to characterize the Redskins as the only team taking a significant risk with the move. 

Recent conversations with various league sources indicate that six prospects have pulled away as the elite talents of the 2012 draft. Though the order differs slightly per team, the general consensus seems to be that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Southern Cal offensive tackle Matt Kalil, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon have separated from the rest of the pack. In trading out of the second pick to the sixth, the Rams are still guaranteed to see one of these prospects still available to them. Whether it is one capable of making an immediate impact, however, is the bigger question. 

With obvious needs at wide receiver and cornerback, the Rams would presumably love to see either Claiborne or Blackmon still available. The Minnesota Vikings (owners of the third pick), Cleveland Browns (four) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (five) also have signficant needs at these spots, however. With free agency looming, much will change prior to the draft but Rams fans may not be as thrilled with their options at No. 6 as they may have been when hearing of the bounty of picks their team will receive in the move.

Based on the lowered value of running backs in today's pass-happy NFL, Richardson would appear to be the most logical candidate, at this point, to slip to six. And while the Rams are expected to add a running back during the off-season to ease the burden on star Steve Jackson, adding another elite talent at one of the few positions of strength on the roster is not the recipe for success most teams would follow. 
      
Of course, if the draft works out the way Dane Brugler and I anticipate in our updated mock drafts (which reflect the trade), St. Louis could be celebrating their mighty haul of draft picks and adding a certain playmaker for Sam Bradford to boot.                
Posted on: March 9, 2012 10:56 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2012 12:23 am
 

Redskins trade for No. 2 pick; poised to nab RG3

St. Louis Rams vice president and chief operating officer Kevin Demoff confirmed to the Sports Xchange on Friday night the agreement on a deal that should be historic for two franchises, as the Rams agreed to trade the second overall pick in this year's NFL Draft to the Washington Redskins, who are expected to use it to select Baylor's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Robert Griffin III.

In return, the Rams hope to build their way out of their 2-14 record in 2011 with the No. 6 overall pick next month, two future first-round picks and a second-round pick. The trade, first reported by FoxSports.com, cannot become official until the new league year begins at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, when free agency also begins. 

It is the kind of deal the Rams needed to make after new head coach Jeff Fisher said last month that the team is committed to quarterback Sam Bradford, which put that prized No. 2 spot squarely on the trading block for anybody desiring to take "RG3." It is assumed that the Indianapolis Colts will use the first pick to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck to replace departed Peyton Manning.

The Redskins' urgency to move up to the No. 2 spot was heightened with multiple reports saying Manning told the team he wasn't interested in playing for Washington after being released by Indianapolis on Wednesday. Manning visited Denver Friday, creating even more potential for the Dolphins to take a shot at getting Griffin. The Cleveland Browns were also reported to be interested in the No. 2 spot.

The Rams can use the No, 6 spot to get any number of talented, top 10 prospects, including a pair of offensive tackles -- Southern Cal's Matt Kalil and Iowa's Riley Reiff -- LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne or Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
  
Earlier Friday, Blackmon showed off for personnel from every NFL team at his Pro Day in Stillwater, Okla., where he was clocked in 4.46 seconds for 40 yards. Demoff would neither confirm nor deny whether the Rams were interested in getting Blackmon to catch passes from Bradford.
  
The trade may not be the best of news for Griffin. Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has spent more money than any other team this century in search of a Super Bowl team. But the Redskins seem to make the least of these deals and often seem dysfunctional, perhaps best evidenced by an inability to get on the same page with veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb in 2010.
  
Coach Mike Shanahan runs his version of a West Coast offense, which does feature mobility at quarterback with the sprint right option as a basic play. Griffin is a great athlete, as evidenced by his unofficial 40-yard time of 4.38 seconds and a vertical jump of 39 inches at the Scouting Combine in February.

--Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange

Posted on: March 9, 2012 1:32 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2012 6:37 pm
 

Top-rated WR Blackmon proves speed with 4.4 times

After measuring in shorter and lighter than expected and showing a lack of explosion during receiving drills at the 2012 Scouting Combine, the pressure was on Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon to perform well at his Pro Day

It appears that he did precisely that. Former St. Louis Rams' Vice President of Player Personnel Tony Softli reported on Twitter that three separate scouts had clocked Blackmon in the low 4.4s (4.43, 4.44, 4.45) in the 40-yard dash Friday.  

NFLDraftScout.com confirmed the time with one of our own sources on hand, who had Blackmon at 4.45 seconds. Our source also reports that Blackmon registered a 35.5" vertical jump. 

While Blackmon, the reigning back to back Biletnikof winner as the nation's top wide receiver, had enjoyed a stellar career with the Cowboys there had been plenty of concern about his straight-line speed. Multiple scouts had estimated Blackmon in the mid 4.5s throughout this season and earlier in his career.

The faster than expected times, by themselves, won't dramatically increase Blackmon's stock. They do, however, help assure scouts that Blackmon has the speed to continue his big playmaking ways against NFL competition and likely solidify his stock as a top 10 -- or perhaps even top five -- prospect. 

Blackmon had been rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 1 receiver and is our No. 5 rated prospect, overall. 
 
At this point Blackmon and the rest of the Cowboys are still working out. NFLDraftScout.com will have a full report from the Oklahoma State Pro Day after it ends.
Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:12 am
Edited on: February 14, 2012 10:48 am
 

Report: Prior to Tebow, Broncos eyed RG3

Prior to the development of Tim Tebow as the most talked about quarterback in Denver since John Elway, the Broncos were looking at another versatile, Heisman-winning passer as a possible first round target for the 2012 draft -- Baylor's Robert Griffin III. 

Rated behind only Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and Southern California offensive tackle Matt Kalil among the elite prospects in the 2012 draft by NFLDraftScout.com, Griffin is likely to earn a top-five selection come April. That would almost surely keep RG3 out of Denver's reach, as the Broncos would have to package several picks -- including their current first round selection (No. 25 overall) to move up to get him. 

Steve Wyche of NFL.com reported Tuesday, however, that the Broncos were closely scouting Griffin this season. 

"At a certain point this season,” Wyche said “with conversations I had there, they were really doing their due diligence on RG3 because of some of the things he can do to the offense.”

Blessed with extraordinary foot speed and touch on the deep ball, Griffin is a multidimensional threat who appears perfectly suited to taking the NFL by storm. He's also entering the league at precisely the right time. The immediate success by Cam Newton will be used by some as evidence that Griffin, too, can make a quick transition to the NFL. 

Considering his unique talents, the fact that the Broncos were closely scouting Griffin is no surprise. Frankly, it would be a surprise only if they didn't scout Griffin (and every other highly regarded prospect) closely. Teams don't just scout the players at perceived positions of need. Each team works hard to do their "due diligence" on every prospect who could potentially help their team. 

While the Broncos aren't likely to be among them, there are several teams looking for help at quarterback. As owners of the No. 1 overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts, of course, will have the first option of taking Griffin. Team owner Jim Irsay mentioned RG3 by name when predicting who his Colts might take with the first pick.  

“With [Robert] Griffin and [Andrew] Luck and the way it’s shaping up at the top of the draft, [it] could very likely go one and two like with Peyton and Ryan Leaf [1998]," Irsay said.   

Besides the Colts, the Cleveland Browns (No. 4, No. 22 overall), Washington Redskins (No. 6), Miami Dolphins (No. 8 or 9*) and Seattle Seahawks (No. 11 or 12*) are teams thought to be keenly interested in Griffin. *The Dolphins and Seahawks' final draft slot won't be determined until a coin=-flip held at the Combine will break their tie with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively). 

If Mike Holmgren and Co. want Griffin in Cleveland, they may be able to wait for him to land in their laps at No. 4, overall. Considering the extra first round pick they have due to Atlanta's trade up for Julio Jones last April, they also have the ammunition to move up, if needed. Miami, Washington and Seattle do not have an extra first round pick this year but with enough talent on their rosters to potentially emerge as serious playoff contenders with better play at quarterback, one (or more) of the clubs could be willing to pony up several picks in an effort to move up for Griffin.

All of which is music to the ears of the St. Louis Rams, owners of the No. 2 overall pick and their own young franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford. The Rams, my CBS colleague Clark Judge argues, should auction off the pick to the highest bidder.
Posted on: February 10, 2012 3:26 pm
 

Stanford, Baylor each schedule March 22 Pro Days

Unless Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III defy the trend of top-rated quarterbacks choosing not to throw at the Scouting Combine, talent evaluators are going to have a tough time seeing both throw prior to the 2012 draft.

That's because Stanford and Baylor have each scheduled their on-campus "Pro Day" workouts on March 22, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The conflicting schedule could force teams to split up their decision-makers to take in the workouts. This happened last year when the Carolina Panthers sent head coach Ron Rivera to watch Cam Newton's Pro Day workout at Auburn while general manager Marty Hurney reportedly attended Ryan Mallett's workout at Arkansas.

Another possibility, of course, is that Luck and/or Griffin could schedule their own individual workouts so that scouts could attend both.

If scouts are, indeed, forced to choose one or the other, the smart money is on Griffin generating more interest despite the fact that Luck is regarded as the top prospect in the draft. While both quarterbacks are viewed as exceptional talents worthy of top five consideration, Griffin has many more questions to answer prior to the draft than Luck.

Having established himself as the elite talent in the country two years running, Luck's game has already been dissected by most decision-makers. Griffin's ascension has been more sudden. Furthermore, scouts will want to see how Griffin drops back from center after having taken the majority of his snaps out of the shotgun while at Baylor.

While there remains some debate as to which direction the Indianapolis Colts may go with the No. 1 overall pick, they are thought to be leaning towards Luck. Should they take Griffin or any other player with the first pick, the line of suitors to trade up into the St. Louis Rams' No. 2 pick would be a long one. Should Griffin not be drafted No. 1, however, it remains to be seen if he generates the same trade interest or if he "falls" past No. 2 overall. Among the teams expected to be interested in adding Griffin would be the Cleveland Browns (owners of the No. 4 overall pick), the Washington Redskins (No. 6), Miami Dolphins (No. 9*), and Seattle Seahawks (No. 12*).  *Miami and Seattle's first round pick won't be decided until a coin-flip at the Combine. They may move up one spot each in the draft order after finishing tied with the Carolina Panthers and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.

As it stands now, I am projecting Griffin to slip to No. 4 overall, where the Browns could nab him. Dane Brugler has the Heisman winner landing with Cleveland, as well.

Scouts are quick to point out that Pro Day workouts in which quarterbacks are throwing "against air" rather than defenses do not ultimately play a significant role in determining his final grade. That hasn't stopped the "Pro Day season" from becoming a huge part of the pre-draft process. Teams dedicate plenty of money and time crossing the country to attend the workouts.

I, myself, have attended several Pro Day workouts of highly regarded quarterbacks, including last year's for Jake Locker, Sam Bradford's in 2010 and Mark Sanchez in 2009.

Posted on: October 18, 2011 9:06 am
 

Veterans worth more than late round draft picks

Today is the NFL's trade deadline. All deals must be reported to the league offices by 4 pm Eastern.

Some believe there will be a small flurry of trades. Most likely, this  year there will be few, if any, last minute deals.

It isn't difficult to understand why.

Besides the complexities of today's salaries and contracts, teams simply are unwilling to package draft picks for veteran players -- even for those with a proven track record in the league.

Yesterday's deal between the St. Louis Rams and the Denver Broncos is a prime example. The Rams, desperately in need of a reliable set of hands to help young quarterback Sam Bradford, sent a conditional late round pick (officially a sixth, which can be escalated to a fifth) for the rights to wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd, 30, led the league last year with 1,448 receiving yards in a Pro Bowl effort. He had the same quarterback this season (at least early on) in Kyle Orton (another veteran rumored to be on the move), but clearly wasn't the same wideout in Denver's current run-oriented offense. Last season, the veteran journeyman receiver enjoyed career highs in receptions, yardage and touchdowns. In St. Louis, he'll get Bradford and, more importantly, be reunited with former head coach and aggressive pass-caller Josh McDaniels.

For a late round pick, the Rams would appear to have found a player that can provide immediate dividends.

Now I ask you, what are the odds that St. Louis' 2012 sixth (or fifth, for that matter) would do the same?

Certainly I have to concede that at 30 years old Lloyd may not have as many years in the league left in him as whatever rookie the Rams would have selected. However, given that the average NFL career spans only three seasons that may not be true.

Also, what makes Lloyd an effective receiver -- his savviness as a route-runner, body control and sticky hands -- aren't the characteristics likely to suddenly be lost due to age, like speed or explosiveness.

The deal makes sense for both clubs. The Rams needed help. The Broncos are clearly moving in a different direction and would love to acquire the draft picks needed to aid them in doing so.

But a late round pick for a Pro Bowl receiver who, not surprisingly, is "excited for the move," should prove once again the NFL continues to overvalue its draft picks in relation to proven veterans.
Posted on: May 10, 2011 2:11 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Defensive Ends (4-3 and 3-4)

Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

Defensive end was one of the strengths of the 2011 draft class, but a disproportionate number of them were five technique defenders best suited to holding the point in a 3-4 scheme. There were few classic 4-3 RDEs to be had in 2011, with former North Carolina standout Robert Quinn being the most explosive of the bunch. In many cases, top collegiate defensive ends -- such as Texas A&M's Von Miller, Missouri's Aldon Smith and Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan will be moved to outside linebacker. As such, much of the focus below is on DEs capable of playing immediately in the scheme in which they were drafted, though they may not be used as defensive ends with their NFL teams.

 Like my picks on the offensive side of the ball (the quarterbacks , running backswide receivers , tight end and offensive line fits), I highlight players taken in the middle and later rounds, as well as 1st and 2nd rounders.

Players are listed alphabetically.

Quality Fits:

Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints:
New Orleans' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is one of the creative minds in the business, making the versatile Jordan an ideal fit in the Saints' defensive line rotation. Jordan, who emerged as a star at defensive end in the 3-4 while at Cal, proved the ability to be just as disruptive as a 4-3 pass rusher while at the Senior Bowl. At 6-4, 287 pounds, Jordan also has the size and strength to slip inside at defensive tackle in nickel situations.

Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins:
The Big Defensive Player of the Year as a defensive end, Kerrigan will be asked to drop to outside linebacker in the Redskins' odd-man front. Kerrigan was widely characterized as strictly a 4-3 defensive end, but some of the clubs I'm closest to who work for 3-4 teams absolutely loved the former Boilermaker's burst and passion as a stand-up OLB. The biggest knock on  Kerrigan coming out of Purdue was that he didn't use his hands well enough to keep NFL offensive tackles from latching on to him. The theory went that by moving him further away, he could use his speed to blow past tackles. Playing opposite an established rusher in Brian Orakpo, Kerrigan could prove an immediate impact player from this draft and ultimately quite a steal at No. 16, overall.

Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams:
Like the Saints, the Rams simply got lucky when a top defensive end that fit their system simply fell in their lap. Quinn was rated by many as a top 10 prospect, but with four quarterbacks surprisingly making the Top 12, Auburn's Nick Fairley and Quinn fell to the Detroit Lions and Rams, respectively. With the exception of the Broncos' Miller (who will be asked to move to OLB), Quinn was the most explosive pass rusher in this draft. Playing opposite a strong, stout defender like former No. 2 overall pick Chris Long, Quinn's speed should give the Rams' otherwise aging defensive line some real playmaking potential. Quinn is already being viewed by some as a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate.

Jabaal Sheard, Cleveland Browns:
Knowing that the Browns desperately needed to get bigger and more productive up front in their transition back to a 4-3 defense, I had Cleveland pegged to take Quinn at No. 6, overall. That may or may not have been the direction they were going to with that pick, but when Atlanta offered them five selections (including their 1st and 4th round picks in 2012) to move down, the rebuilding Browns jumped at the opportunity. In Sheard (taken No. 37 overall), Cleveland got a high-effort pass rusher with an underrated combination of power and burst off the snap. He isn't as explosive as Quinn, but might be a safer pick and could surprise with his immediate production in this scheme.

Questionable Fit:

Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers:
While some pointed to quarterback or cornerback as the 49ers' biggest areas of concern, I've maintained that the team desperately needed to address their lack of a consistent pass rush. The 49ers clearly agreed, but I have real reservations about the player they chose to fix their concerns. It isn't that I dislike Smith. Actually, I'm quite high on the former Tiger's upside... I just liked him much more as a 4-3 defensive end rather than as a 3-4 rush linebacker. I didn't see the balance and change-of-direction from Smith that I believe translates into a high degree of success as a 3-4 OLB. Taking into consideration Smith's long, relatively lean frame (6-4, 263 pounds and exceptionally long arms, legs) and age (20), I see Smith getting naturally bigger as spends time in an NFL weight room. Quite frankly, I see Smith growing out of the position and struggling to put up the numbers expected of a player taken so high (No. 7) in the draft. 

Posted on: May 9, 2011 12:27 am
 

Finding the Fits -- Rookie impact TEs


Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

Tight ends and centers were viewed by most talent evaluators as the weakest offensive positions available in 2011. For the first time since 1999, no tight ends were selected in the first round. The Minnesota Vikings made Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph the first tight drafted in 2011, taking him with the 43rd pick. This was the lowest the first tight end had been drafted since the Bills took Florida State's Lonnie Johnson with the 61st pick of the 1994 draft. It wasn't just the top-end talent lacking in this group. The depth was weak too. The 2011 draft saw 13 tight ends get drafted. The 2010 and 2009 drafts each had 20 get drafted.

There is, however, plenty of reason for optimism with this class, as there are some exciting schematic fits with this group.

Earlier this week I broken down the quarterbacks , running back and wide receiver fits.
 
Good Fits:

Lance Kendricks, St. Louis Rams:

Kendricks signed with Wisconsin as a receiver and shows the body control, hands and athleticism normally associated with that position. He won't provide the Rams with  much as an inline blocker at 6-3, 243 pounds, but he is a matchup nightmare with the reliable hands to take advantage of Sam Bradford's accuracy down the seam.


Lee Smith, New England Patriots:
Smith is probably the least talked-about of the Patriots' haul this year, but he serves as one of the clearest examples of this year's draft of picking players to fill specialist roles. The 6-6, 269 pound Smith proved himself to be every bit as stout at the Senior Bowl as he had on tape, cementing his status as the draft's elite blocking specialist tight end. The Patriots already boast two exciting receiving threats at tight end in second-year standouts Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Tight end, like running back, has become a position of specialists not unlike the starting pitcher-middle relief-set up man-closer roles in baseball.  There aren't a lot of players at pick 159 that can make a real impact on a Super Bowl-contending team. Smith is one of them.

D.J. Williams, Green Bay Packers:
Just as Kendricks was a good fit for the Rams, Williams' athleticism and soft hands make him an intriguing mismatch in the middle of the Packers' aggressive passing attack. At 6-2, 245 pounds, he certainly lacks Jermichael Finley's size, but the 2010 Mackey Award winner is a reliable route-runner who will fit in immediately. Williams is also one of the more tenacious blockers of this class. His ability to latch on and ride defenders could lead to more big plays for his teammates.

Questionable Fit:

Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos: 

Thomas is a very intriguing talent who could pay off big for the Broncos with this pick. Denver has a need at the position and Thomas' athleticism and soft hands drew raves at the East-West Shrine Game. My concern is that Thomas is among the rawest of the 2011 tight end crop and that the Broncos seemingly could have used a player closer to starting. Thomas, like many before him, is a basketball convert. He played four years for Portland State's basketball team and walked on with the football team last spring. He'd only played one year in high school prior to that. John Elway knows full well the value of a security blanket over the middle. Thomas could become that security blanket, but he's far from the finished product right now.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com