Friday, May 1, 2009

2009 NFL Draft Grades: St. Louis Rams

The Rams were "awarded" the second pick in the draft for the second consecutive year thanks to another season of poor play. Scott Linehan got the axe and now Steve Spagnuolo steps in. Can he turn it around? A great first draft would help.

The Rams were able to put together a mini win streak in October. Unfortunately it lasted a mere two games. And those were the only two games all season that St. Louis outscored its opponent. The culprit? Well, everyone. Not one Rams unit was good in 2008. They averages a meager 14.5 points per game on offense and allowed 29.1. Both of those numbers got the Rams ranked 31st in the league in the categories. They were no higher than 25th in any major offensive category. Their 19th rank in passing yards allowed per game looks OK - at least it isn't in the 20s - but really is a result of teams only need to run on them. St. Louis allowed 154.7 rushing yards per game, ranking them 29th in that category. Ouch. An offensive minded coach is gone and a defensive guru steps in. Will it matter? The Rams have plenty of holes to fill.

The Rams were only marginally better than the win less Lions in 2008. Like the Lions they need as many picks as possible to restock the cabinets with young talent. Well, St. Louis ended up with only seven picks, the same amount they started with. Unfortunately for them they could not get anyone to throw a pick or two at them for Torry Holt or Orlando Pace, who they cut. They made one pick in each round.

1/2/2 - Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
2/3/35 - James Laurinaitis, ILB, Ohio State
3/2/66 - Bradley Fletcher, CB/S, Iowa
4/3/103 - Dorell Scott, DT, Clemson
5/24/160 - Brooks Foster, WR, North Carolina
6/23/196 - Kieth Null, QB, West Texas A&M
7/2/211 - Chris Ogbonnaya, RB/FB, Texas


  • OL - Check!
  • LB - Check!
  • WR - Check!
  • CB - Check!
  • TE - Try again.
With seven picks the Rams were going to have a difficult time filling all of their needs and they cam up just short. They were able to add arguably the best player in the draft, one who could be an OL cornerstone for the next decade a la Orlando Pace. Speaking of a Buckeye, Laurinaitis dropped to round two like other recent star college 'backers. He fills a big need for the Rams and was a no brainer here. It would have been nice to get a WR that could make a more immediate impact, like Donnie Avery last year, but Foster will have to do. It would have been nice to get some more OL and DL depth instead of grabbing a hybrid RB/FB in Ogbonnaya and a QB many people never heard of. Also, not getting any TE in a deep class doesn't seem right.

GRADE: 70 out of 100

Pick 1 - Jason Smith could very well be not only the best OT in the draft but the best prospect of the group. He has that much potential. While he'll start his career at RT, it's only a matter of time until he is the teams LT of the future. Grade: 10

Pick 2 - What a steal! I'm not a huge fan of Laurinaitis - I always thought he was overrated. But at the 35th pick I can't argue with his selection plus he feels a big void in the St. Louis defense. Probably would have done the same if I was working for the Rams. Grade: 10

Pick 3 - I liked Fletcher... but not as an early third rounder. Maybe in the early 4th and definitely by the 5th. There were a few other DBs I would have gone with before him, such as Kevin Barnes, Asher Allen, Lardarius Webb, and Chris Owens, who all went later in the third. I can't blame St. Louis too much; it was a need position and they got the guy they wanted. Grade: 6

Pick 4 - I like the Scott pick better than the previous one. In fact, I'd be more than happy swapping them. Scott has the size and speed that works great in a 4-3. Some 3-4 teams were looking at him as a possible NT. This was a solid pick. Grade: 8

Pick 5 - Another good value here for the Rams. I like this draft the more and more I look at it. Sure it would have been nice to get a WR that could make a big impact his rookie season. But Foster has the size and speed to eventually be a reliable #2 and good complement to the speedy and shifty Donnie Avery. Grade: 7

Pick 6 - I spoke too soon. Null? I had not even heard of him before the draft. He was taken over someone like Curtis Painter, Brian Hoyer, Graham Harrell, and Chase Daniel? I know some of them are system QBs but, still, take the guy from the school that Ryan Leaf used to coach at? I dunno about this one, especially since Kyle Boller and Brock Berlin were already on the roster. Grade: 2

Pick 7 - A true FB was signed (Mike Karney). A hybrid RB/FB already was on the roster (Brian Leonard). Why choose Ogbonnaya? He doesn't have much upside and is almost identical to Leonard. After a pretty impressive first five picks the last two definitely hurt the class. In the 7th the Rams could have grabbed some more secondary help (Captain Munnerlyn, Curtis Taylor, Mike Mickens), more OL or DL depth (Lydon Murtha or Ricky Jean-Francois), or a better RB in Rashad Jennings. Grade: 3

GRADE: 46/70


The Rams were able to fill four of their five big needs. Not only did they fill them, however, the filled them with some great potential. Ignoring the TE position is puzzling and there last two picks are forgettable, at least at the moment.


WHY: This is the best draft I've graded so far. OK, it's only the second one I did. But I really think it'll turn out to be a Top 10 class when all is said and done in three weeks. Their first five picks were great value and/or filled needs. By 2011 this class could be the headliners making the Rams competitive again.

NOTE: My "final grade" is weighted and is not a simple combination of "needs" and "talent".

Best Pick: Smith
Worst Pick: Null
Sleeper: Scott
Instant Impact: Laurinaitis
Developmental: Foster

CBS Sports (Prisco): B-
CBS Sports (Rang): B-
ESPN (Kiper): C (Brooks): C+ (Fan's): B
Walter: A+



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