2011 NFL Draft Results: St Louis Rams' Five Draft Conclusions
This weekend the St Louis Rams welcomed eight new players to the family, starting with UNC DE Robert Quinn at 14th overall, and ending with Oklahoma DB Jonathan Nelson in the seventh-round.
The draft is usually a good indicator of how the coaches feel about certain needs, how highly they regard certain aspects of the team and what direction they want to go in.
It's only eight new players, but their selections say a lot about the Rams as a whole.
So what exactly can we say about the Rams after this weekend? Here are the conclusions:
Sam Bradford Is Priority No. 1
The Rams headed into the draft with several needs outweighing those at wide receiver.
They lack a reliable outside linebacker, they have no clue who their safeties are going to be next season, they still don't have an adequate right guard, and they still need a future replacement for Fred Robbins at defensive tackle.
So what did the Rams do with all those needs? They went out and selected three straight pass catchers in the second- (TE Lance Kendricks), third- (WR Austin Pettis) and fourth- (WR Austin Pettis) rounds.
With new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels bringing with him a pass-heavy spread offense utilizing numerous weapons, the Rams decided they wanted QB Sam Bradford to have as many options as possible.
All three bring good size and reliable hands, establishing themselves as potential red zone threats, something the Rams severely lacked in 2010.
With these selections, the Rams showed that all their other needs can wait; their main priority is Sam Bradford.
Steven Jackson's Protege Will Have to Wait—Backup Will Be Found in Free Agency
There was a lot of speculation that the Rams would use a third-, second- or even a first-round selection on a running back to team up with Steven Jackson.
The picks came and went and the Rams passed up on prospects such as Mark Ingram, Jordan Todman, Taiwan Jones and Mikel Leshoure.
Two things can be drawn from this:
1) They aren't worried about power back Steven Jackson breaking down at all in 2011, and aren't interested in grooming a replacement anytime soon.
Perhaps next year they'll begin searching for his protege.
2) As far as backup running backs go, the Rams are going to find theirs in free agency. They could bring back current backup Kenneth Darby or pick up Reggie Bush, who appears to be on his way out of New Orleans. These are just two of many possibilities.
They're Comfortable with the CB Duo of Bartell/Fletcher
Last season Bradley Fletcher came out of nowhere to establish himself as the Rams' No. 2 corner behind Ron Bartell. The Rams appear to be impressed enough that they no longer see CB as a need.
Highly regarded prospect Prince Amukamara fell to them in the first-round and there were plenty of talented corners left when they chose in the second, but the Rams decided to pass.
Obviously the Rams feel like they've finally found the correct combination on the outside.
Like His Time in NY, Spagnuolo Wants a Plethora of Pass Rushers
When the Rams selected DE Robert Quinn, two things went through my mind:
1) The Rams had just picked up the steal of the draft. Quinn should've gone to the 49ers but, thankfully, San Francisco chose to go with Aldon Smith instead.
2) In two or three seasons, the Rams are going to have a defensive line similar to that of the New York Giants.
During his time in New York, Steve Spagnuolo built up quite the defensive line. Featuring a blend of quick, physical terrors in Justin Tuck, Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and others, the Giants wreaked havoc on every offense they went against.
Something similar is being constructed in St Louis. With Quinn joining James Hall, Chris Long, George Selvie and CJ Ah You, the Rams continue to build up impressive talent at the defensive end position.
The Rams Have Faith in Craig Dahl
When the free-agency period does eventually open, the Rams will be in the market for a safety to replace OJ Atogwe.
What they're unlikely to do, however, is replace current SS Craig Dahl.
They won't be willing to bring in two brand new safeties to learn the system, and Dahl made a good enough impression to start 13 games last season. He isn't a turnover machine and he won't make any incredible plays, but he is a sound tackler with good enough instincts to be an adequate safety.
Forced to guess, Craig Dahl, with a little bit of James Butler, will be filling the SS spot in 2011.
So how do you feel about the draft? Did the Rams drastically improve over the weekend?
Share your opinions and leave a comment below.
Here are the links to my breakdown of the Rams first five picks:
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