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Saint Louis Rams Draft Overview

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First Round Selection: Chris Long

What’s not to like? Long didn’t have the most dominant career at Virginia, but his senior season is hard to ignore. His 14 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss and 9 pass defenses including a pick are especially impressive on a defense without a ton of talent. Long aces Need, capable of playing end, situational tackle and linebacker on a team with needs at all three. He’s a heady player who loves football and is a perfect Fit in Jim Haslett’s aggressive, unpredictable and blitz happy defense. I might otherwise have some reservations about Long’s Value, I think Dorsey is the better talent, but Long has little Downside, and when you’re paying someone 9+ million a year, that matters. A great pick that made perfect sense for the Rams.

Best Value: Roy Schuening

Concerns about his athleticism accepted, the Rams found a starter ready guard with above average potential in the fifth. The value of that simply cannot be understated. I was high on Schuening from the start, and endorsed Seattle drafting him prior to them acquiring Mike Wahle. Rather than rephrase what I’ve already written:

Schuening is a Tim Ruskell kind of guy. Schuening is tough: he played with walking pneumonia. Dedicated: he started 50 consecutive games. Versatile: playing tackle for much of his senior season. Athletic: he twice lettered in wrestling in high school. Schuening is also steady, stable and without character questions. He's a natural leader, something Seattle's soon to be very young offensive line could use. On paper, he doesn't have superstar potential, but like Lofa Tatupu, his awareness and dedication should not only allow him to play above his talent, but should improve the play of everyone around him.

I watched some video on the guy and here's what I saw: He's quick out of the blocks, plays low and with leverage, has good handfighting skills - especially, he can engage and chuck smaller, quicker defenders. He plays mean, that is, he takes the fight to the defender, not sitting back and awaiting engagement, and will continue to find defenders to block until the play is done. He also moves pretty well through space, but is unrefined as an actual pull blocker. He can lose a defender if he isn't able to knock him down with his initial surge and may have trouble with physical, high-motor types. He's a good size, and has a good, thick build.

Withholding Judgment On: Donnie Avery

The Rams needed a matchup problem to take some heat off of Torry Holt, and though Avery may forever play the slot, there’s nothing wrong with a slot receiver that can cause havoc on the third level. I always find it funny when the sports punditry gets up in arms about teams doing something counter to "conventional wisdom". Read: What they think. Avery has true football speed and will demand safety attention, every play.

On the flip side, he’s not much of a receiver. Beyond the speed, he’s easily covered, doesn’t box out well or run precise or deceptive routes. He’s a bit of a gimmick receiver, good at creating matchup problems but not stupendously effective. Avery’s selection makes a little more sense when coupled with the drafting of Keenan Burton. Burton has a pretty good shot of winning the starting #2 spot from Drew Bennett, and the two taken as a package, Burton and Avery that is, are nice combination of refinement and potential.

Overall: A

I thought this was a talent rich draft with the chance to change the fortunes of a franchise. The Rams need more than  a single influx of young talent, but this was a good start and simply a great draft: A vital low downside pick at 2, great value throughout, a polished right tackle in the third on a team that needs starters at offensive tackle, complimentary wide receivers that give a threadbare unit some life and Schuening added to an already punishing interior offensive line. A lot of people have completely written the Rams off, but they have a lot of talent on roster. I don’t buy Marc Bulger’s premature decline and think he can bounce back. The defense needs help, but I loved the Adam Carriker pick last season and Long is another cornerstone player. They’re still thin, but were very unlucky with injuries in 2007. Actual contention might take more than a few breaks and favorable bounces, but the road back to .500 is in sight.