If a one win season isn’t enough to get a head coach and general manager on the hot seat, a change in ownership certainly will. St Louis started 2009 with a new head coach in Steve Spagnuolo, a hire that was widely admired at the time. With an aging roster devoid of talent the Rams suffered through a long season. General Manager Billy Devaney and Spagnuolo seem to have a plan in place to build a consistent organization in St Louis after a decade of infighting in the front office. The needs were many and the team had plenty of opportunity throughout the draft. Brent Foshee breaks it down.
The Rams zeroed in on Sam Bradford as the number one pick as early as February based on some reports. Bradford is an elite prospect at the games most important position. He is a poised and confident leader that plays an intellectual brand of football and seems to have an easygoing attitude that could help him deal with the struggles he’ll face as a young NFL quarterback. The biggest issue surrounding Bradford is his injury history. Having been knocked out of games with season ending injuries, Bradford must show more durability.
St Louis surprised many by selecting offensive tackle Rodger Saffold with their second round pick. Saffold was an excellent left tackle at Indiana University but will be expected to play the right tackle position opposite last year’s first round selection, Jason Smith. Saffold is athletic, possessing great footwork and quickness. He excels in pass protection but will need to adjust to playing on the right side where he will be expected to run block at a higher level.
The Rams made their first defensive selection in the third round taking South Florida cornerback Jerome Murphy. Murphy is a big bodied corner that does an excellent job of physically dominating receivers. He is slightly slow footed based on his reaction times but he has the potential to start in the future and fits Steve Spagnuolo’s defensive scheme better than many of the cornerbacks that had already been taken.
Franchise quarterback? Check. Bookend tackle to protect said quarterback? Check. Young receiving prospect for said quarterbacks future? Check.
The Rams completed the trifecta of offensive reshaping by selecting Mardy Gilyard in the 3rd round. Gilyard is a hard working and dependable receiver that is known for his elusive nature and sure hands. His route running could use some help and he might never be a deep threat but if Gilyard and Bradford gel early they could be a strong combination for the Rams.
The Rams continued to protect the sizeable investment in Sam Bradford by selecting tight end Michael Hoomanawanui in the 5th round. Far from a one trick pony, Hoomanawanui is an adept pass catcher and route runner, though he lacks the speed and athleticism to be much of a threat once the ball is in his hands. He should be able to help the team as a pass blocker immediately and develop into a competent receiver over time.
Clearly not happy with their depth and production at defensive end the team later selected Hall Davis in the 5th round. The former basketball player is an incredible athlete that will need time to truly learn the nuances of the position. He has skills like speed and a burst that teams covet and comes with a high degree of upside.
With a blocking tight end on the board the Rams dipped back into the pool to find a potential future threat as a receiving tight end by selecting little known Fendi Onobun in round six. Another raw prospect with a huge upside, Onobun made a name for himself as a basketball player at the University of Arizona and could find himself as a candidate for the team’s practice squad.
Defensive end Eugene Sims is a small school player that was not rated by many teams. He is another candidate for the team’s practice squad as he must adjust to the pro game after playing collegiately at West Texas A&M.
Alabama cornerback Marquis Johnson is a nice sized, bump and run cornerback best suited for a zone system. He could find a home on special teams and as a dime back.
Few people fell further in this year’s draft than did George Selvie.
Once considered a first round pick early in his college career, Selvie was relegate to being selected in the final round mostly due to poor numbers at the combine and questions about his overall adaptability to the pro game. Selvie has always been consistent in college and could find a home as a situational pass rusher for the Rams.
Penn State linebacker Josh Hull is another developmental prospect with limited upside. He is a fierce blue collar inside linebacker and should at least find a home on special teams.
Grade: B The Rams strategy was to take Bradford then give him the weapons and protection to help him ultimately succeed. The front office has clearly staked their jobs on Bradford’s success but they appear to be giving him the help he will need to be successful. It’s difficult to not like a team with a plan that protects their future franchise quarterback when so many others have failed to do so in the past.