We are two days away from a football fan's true Christmas. The NFL Draft is approaching, and in its few remaining eves we are acting like crazed children trying to figure out what gifts will be bestowed upon us. We're arguing about which shiny bauble we want most, spying into dark corners for clues, and shaking apart rumors and half-truths and outright lies from those who would bring us our deserved presents.
This year is especially fraught with tension, as no one -- not even Chiefs fans with the first chance to dig their greedy, grubby fingers into Santa's kit bag -- knows who is going to get what. (Crafty Andy knows, but he's not telling.)
Colts announced Andrew Luck as No. 1 pick the Tues before draft. Chiefs not ready to make any announcement, likely to wait until Thurs night— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 23, 2013
Moreover, there are 8 new GMs and 6 new head coaches picking in the top 11, leaving us bereft of past precedent. That leaves us Rams fans in a frenzy, with two premium picks midway through Thursday night, and any number of draft scenarios that might unfold.
However, we have spent a year of study in the Jeff Fisher / Les Snead method, and one trend leaps out: they will want to make the Rams, almost to a man, bigger, stronger and faster.
This is a theme that RamsHerd writers Tim Shields and Will Horton discussed at length in Tim's "Shields of Dreams" podcast for KZOW FM this weekend. How does this theme impact the potential draft stocks of Tavon Austin vs Cordarelle Patterson or DeAndre Hopkins? Are the premier guards in play at 16, and if not, what happens?
This is but a snippet of an overall podcast filled with gold nuggets of football knowledge, spanning more than 100 minutes and featuring football talk with fellow Rams fans Brent Lancaster and Vinnie Perricelli, as well as members of the Waldorf University football program, where Tim works as a running backs coach. And at the end, you get to hear Tim defend his wholly unexpected endorsement of DJ Fluker, after dogging him for most of the offseason.
The whole show, in all its bombastic glory, is here:
And as if that wasn't enough, Tim and Vinnie will be podcasting during the draft's blockbuster first round, with an impressive slate of guests spanning a variety of NFL teams. Ben Albright (@NFLDraftMonster) will share his in-depth scouting knowledge on prospects across the board. Seth Cox (@SethCoxFB) of The Sports Headquarters, Vincent Frank (@VincentFrankNFL) and Tyson Langland (@TysonNFL) of Bleacher Report will provide perspective from our NFC West rivals. Stalwart draftniks Darren Page (@DarrenPage15), Joe Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry), Chris Hansen (@ChrisHansenNFL), Mike O'Connor (@OConnor_Jets) and Alex Dunlap (@AlexDunlapNFL) will have the rest of the league covered, conference-by-conference. And the guest list continues to grow, with draft insiders Chris Dougherty (@DraftInsider) and Josh Liskiewitz (@JoshLiskiewitz) providing knowledge along the way.
It's going to be a monster night. As if it could be any other way, for the biggest football holiday of the year.no comments
In my last entry at the start of the NFL Scouting Combine, I estimated which ten players seemed to be the most likely targets for the Rams and their 2 first-round selections. A lot has happened since then; the Rams have no starting safeties, Jake Long and Jared Cook were signed, and both starting WR from last year (Amendola and Gibson) left in free agency. Those changes, as well as some of the players’ Combine and Pro Day performances, have shaken up my rankings.
Dropping off the list: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia; Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame; Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford; Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
I still believe that Jones will be an impact player in the NFL, but he seems to be a better fit for a 3-4 defense. Also, with the Jared Cook signing, it would seem extremely unlikely that the Rams take a TE in the first round.
With the Jake Long signing, both tackle spots are filled considering that Rodger Saffold has zero leverage on the Rams to force a trade. Plus, it seems increasingly unlikely that Johnson will escape the top 15 picks.
With those players dropping off, here are the ten players most likely to be selected by the Rams in this month’s draft. Those players noted with an asterisk have been to Rams Park for pre-draft visits, which interestingly enough is all of the players who are not guards or safeties; strange considering their need to fill those positions.
#10 – Eddie Lacy*, RB, Alabama
While I would gladly take Lacy if he fell to the Rams in the 2nd round, the needs at safety, wide receiver, outside linebacker, and offensive guard make him a luxury pick in the first round. Even with his so-so workouts, we know that Jeff Fisher likes workhorse running backs so Lacy should merit at least some consideration with the 22nd pick.
#9 - Keenan Allen*, WR, California
Allen drops a few spots but stays on the list because, despite his lingering leg issues and slow Pro Day 40 time, he could still very well be the best WR available in the draft. He also seems increasingly likely to be available when the Rams pick at 22.
#8 – D.J. Fluker*, OT, Alabama
While he would not be a likely candidate if I were calling the shots for the Rams, they could still look his way considering the injury histories of Jake Long and Rodger Saffold. While Fluker does not have the feet to play left tackle, Saffold could move there if Long were to get hurt, and Fluker would be an upgrade as a run-blocker should Saffold miss time.no comments
One of my favorite stories in Rams lore was in a week nine loss against the Lions during the 1999 Super Bowl season.
The loss was nothing special, one of three on the season, but Kurt Warner’s story from that day echoes in my head as this St. Louis team experiences a changing of the guard.
Following a touchdown pass, Warner said Marshall Faulk walked up to him on the bench and circled his heart with his hands, a ceremonial passing of the torch.
“He was kind of handing the reins over and saying ‘you’re our guy’,” Warner said in the NFL Network “America’s Game” episode on the ’99 Rams.
Just this offseason, gone is the longest tenured Ram and unquestioned soul of the team, Steven Jackson. Gone is the resilient security blanket of Danny Amendola.
The reins have been handed over.no comments
Steven Jackson is no longer a Ram. The next time he crashes through a crowd of would-be tacklers, the paint he trades with those unlucky defenders will no longer be flecked with blue and gold. The next time he posterizes an A-gap rusher, the quarterback he protects will no longer be Sam Bradford.
The next time the lights dim in the Edward Jones Dome and the Rams players line up to race out of the tunnel, the dreadlocked beast wearing #39 will no longer be leading the charge.
While the pre-draft offseason is always a kindler of hopes and optimism, the losses of Steven Jackson and (to a slightly lesser extent) Danny Amendola leave huge craters that must be filled. Both were emblematic of the Rams, personnifying the team's heart as well as its flaws. Neither scored enough, neither won enough, but neither ever left anything on the field.
It's difficult to encapsulate the legacy that he leaves behind here in Saint Louis, but it's fair to say that the Rams will have a significantly different identity when they step on the field in 2013. Perhaps Sam Bradford will manage a breakthrough with more offensive weight placed on his shoulders. Or, perhaps the young offense will fail to gel and cede the team's full identity to Jeff Fisher's cadre of punishers on defense.
Until Bradford and the offense rise or fall in his absence, Jackson's legacy in St Louis won't be fully defined. But Mike Sando might have come closest so far:
Jackson represented what was right with a too frequently dysfunctional Rams culture over most of the past decade. He also provided a high-profile link to a painful era in Rams history. Every victory he enjoyed came in the context of the pain that had come before.
Now, Jackson has the opportunity to pile on victories with a loaded offense in Atlanta. Each victory he enjoys there, perhaps even a championship, will be measured here in St Louis by the context of what comes next for the Rams.no comments
There’s a new chef in town.
By acquiring former Titan TE Jared Cook on the first day of free agency, the Rams may have very well signed the most versatile and able-bodied weapon available. Les Snead has stressed getting weapons for Sam Bradford, but he also mentioned that the only way to measure production is on the field. New Patriot Danny Amendola and new Seahawk Percy Harvin have loads of talent, but how many games will they actually play? In Cook, the Rams acquired both raw ability and durability.
Rams fans desperately yearn for the glory days of the Greatest Show on Turf and its high-octane offense, but there is a new recipe cooking in the mound city. In a league dependent on creating offensive mismatches, Cook will bring some much-needed flavor. Perhaps this improving offense will not have to depend on the leg of Greg Zuerlein to generate points. There aren’t many linebackers who can keep up with Cook’s 4.49 speed, and there aren’t many defensive backs who want to tackle his 6’5”, 240+ lb. frame. I’m not saying Cook is the red zone threat that we desperately need, but he will definitely help Sam and the rest of the offense get there.no comments
Not that anyone reads it, but we have a brief writer's guide here at RamsHerd. Right at the top, it says:
We aren’t a magazine or a newspaper, but we can follow a basic journalistic code:
- be unique
- check your facts
- check your spelling
- and don’t rip people off.
That was my attempt at setting some kind of standard to stave off the worst of online bloggerly behavior, and to let the (mostly) young and (mostly) inexperienced writers that volunteer their fingers here know that I actually expect something of the old code from them.
Honestly, I feel like I shouldn't even have to say stuff like this. But let's face it, the internet has succeeded in almost totally destroying the believability of the written word.
Oh, as a publishing engine, it can't be topped. More people can publish more words in less time than at any time in human history. (That isn't a compliment, internet.) But as a "knowledge engine," it both sucks and blows.
As online readers, we are surrounded by verbal garbage, as commentary and veiled advertisement supplant fact-gathering and reporting as the primary function of media. Increasingly, our job as readers isn't to consume, it's to reject. We have to weigh on a constant basis the credibility of each source that provides each bit of new information. And our own credibility is judged on a constant basis with each utterance, each post, each tweet and retweet.
This is the central conflict that fueled my colleague Paul's diatribe yesterday on Twitter and "the death of journalism." It's an enduringly valid point, especially in the fact-starved run-up to the NFL Draft.
But we, as a site, got a key part of it wrong.no comments