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9-24-16 Delaware State

Rams draft preview


Rams draft preview

Insider team reports for all NFL teams. Copyright (C) 2015 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved. Reprints, duplication or redistribution is prohibited without written permission from The Sports Xchange. ============== ST. LOUIS RAMS ==============   INSIDE SLANT Rams draft preview and offseason review    Aside from the blockbuster trade that sent quarterback Sam Bradford to […]

Rams draft preview
Insider team reports for all NFL teams.
Copyright (C) 2015 The Sports Xchange.
All Rights Reserved. Reprints, duplication or redistribution is prohibited without written permission from The Sports Xchange.
Rams draft preview and offseason review
   Aside from the blockbuster trade that sent quarterback Sam Bradford to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Nick Foles on the first day of the league year, it’s been a relatively quiet offseason for the St. Louis Rams.
   Of course, that deal rocked the NFL work when it was announced March 10. The Rams and Eagles had been talking for a while, but the deal was consummated only after Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly agreed to include Foles.
   Bradford was the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, but started just 49 of a possible 80 games and missed the last 25 with two torn ACLs. Throughout the offseason, head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead insisted “deleting” Bradford was not the answer.
   But in making the trade, the Rams shed Bradford’s just under $13 million salary, while now being responsible for the $1.542 million salary Foles has entering the final year of his contract.
   Achieving additional salary-cap space with that move, as well as releasing tackle Jake Long, center Scott Wells and defensive tackle Kendall Langford, enabled the Rams to concentrate on re-signing some key players including tight end Lance Kendricks and wide receiver Kenny Britt. However, there has still been no movement on right tackle Joe Barksdale, who was hoping for a big-money deal that never materialized.
   Barksdale remains unsigned, and what the Rams do on draft day could be a strong signal to whether they still have hope of bringing him back. The Rams dabbled with guard Justin Blalock and center Stefen Wisniewski in the early stages of free agency, but Wisniewski signed with Jacksonville, and Blalock remains unsigned.
   Without Barksdale, the Rams are still looking for three potential starters on the offensive line, with only left tackle Greg Robinson and left guard Rodger Saffold as returning starters. They added Garrett Reynolds as a free agent, but he is seen as a good backup swingman at guard and tackle.
   With needs on the offensive line and just six picks in the draft, what will be intriguing is whether the Rams decide to draft a quarterback who would compete with Foles, Austin Davis and Case Keenum, who was acquired from Houston for a seventh-round pick in 2016.
   Also in the draft, the Rams could be looking for depth at cornerback, defensive tackle and running back.
   They did add depth by signing talented but enigmatic Nick Fairley at defensive tackle for one year and linebacker Akeem Ayers for two. Those two, along with Reynolds (two years), signed for a total of only $13.2 million with $4.75 million guaranteed.
   –Like all teams that don’t have new head coaches, the Rams opened Phase I of the offseason program, which consists mostly of strength and conditioning.
   Nonetheless, tight end Jared Cook said he is excited about the offense being fashioned by new coordinator Frank Cignetti. He was the quarterbacks coach for the previous two seasons, but was promoted after the season when former coordinator Brian Schottenheimer accepted the same job at the University of Georgia.
   Said Cook, “We’re excited about Cig. We all love Cig. He’s a great guy, so we’re excited about the opportunities that he’s going to bring for everybody on the offense and the different style of offense that he’s going to be able to implement.”
   Cook said it’s a good thing that there will be a certain degree of continuity within the system, coupled with the familiarity Cignetti has with the players.
   He said, “If we would have got a totally new offensive coordinator that wasn’t here with us previously, there ain’t no telling what changes he would have brought that would have confused everybody. I think Cig knows the personalities, he knows what type of players he has, he knows what players can fit in what positions and I think it’s going to make it easier for him to make his decisions on what type of plays to run, what type of offense to put in.
   “It helps us too because we know the type of person Cig is. It’s not like we have to get used to a whole new regime of a coach and him imputing all different kind of plays in. Him being familiar with the faces that are in the locker room is going to make it easier for both parties. It’s going to make it easier for the coaches as well as the players and I think that’s huge, it’s huge.”
   There will be a new quarterback running the show, Nick Foles, but Cook believes the offense is ready to take off.
   “I think now is our opportunity to just go out and get it,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a matter of if, I think it’s a matter of when. As long as we’re clicking on all cylinders, as long as we’re communicating, as long as we’re taking care of our side of the ball and doing the things we can control – the defense is going to be good, we know how good our defense is – but as long as we control the things that we can control, I don’t think we’ll have a problem.”
   –Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis is also glad there will be continuity in the defense this season. There was different coordinator in head coach Jeff Fisher’s first three years with the team, but now Gregg Williams returns for his second go-round.
   “We all have a better feel for each other,” Laurinaitis said. “It’ll be nice to have the same language, the same expectations, for two years in a row.”
   While the team and defense are still relatively young, Laurinaitis said, “They’ve set this thing up well with the way they’ve gone about it. We have a lot of young players that’ll be in their third (or fourth) year. It’s about that time for us. It’s not a young team anymore. It might be young still by age, but there’s a lot of experience out there, a lot of guys that have played a lot of minutes. And so the expectations are going to be extremely high and I think we have a lot of guys holding each other accountable more.”
   Laurinaitis, who considers days without working out as almost wasted, talked about the importance of the offseason program.
   “This journey starts today,” he said. “It doesn’t start in the fall. I think it’s easier to kind of preach that now that these guys have experience. Because when you’re a rookie and you’re in here for the first time in OTAs and stuff, it’s hard to get them to understand that this long marathon towards the Super Bowl starts in OTAs. These teams just don’t become great through training camp.”
   –Amid an offseason that has been filled with stories about the team’s possible relocation to Los Angeles in 2016, a blog in the Dallas Morning News said the Rams were discussing practicing with the Cowboys for a few days in training camp … at the team’s summer home in Oxnard, Calif., about 60 miles north of Los Angeles.
   Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff acknowledged that there have been talks with the Cowboys, but insisted that no agreement had been reached. Demoff indicated it’s possible the Rams could practice against the Colts or that there would be no work with another team.
   The Rams open their preseason schedule on Friday, Aug. 14 in Oakland, and would possibly then practice with the Cowboys after that game. Both the Rams and Cowboys don’t play their next preseason game until Sunday, Aug. 23.
   The Rams play the Colts in St. Louis on Saturday, Aug. 29, but joint practices in the league are not usually done that late in the preseason.
   –The Rams will exercise the 2016 contract option for defensive tackle Michael Brockers. The Rams also decided against picking up the $8.263 million option of safety Mark Barron.
   The seventh overall pick in 2012, Barron was acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season for picks in the fourth and sixth rounds of the 2015 draft.
   Barron’s $2.363 million salary in 2015 is guaranteed.
   Brockers, the 14th pick in the 2012 draft, will receive $6.146 million in 2016. That figure is guaranteed only for injury until the 2016 league year begins, when it will become fully guaranteed.
   Brockers, 24, has been a member of perhaps the league’s best defensive line over the last three years. Playing on a unit led by Robert Quinn and Chris Long, he has been a key run defender (109 tackles) and offered help in the pass rush (11.5 sacks).
   With defensive rookie of the year Aaron Donald returning and defensive tackle Nick Fairley joining the team, the Rams’ defensive line should continue to be one of the best in the NFL.
BEST FIT: T/G Brandon Scherff, Iowa
   With right tackle Joe Barksdale still an unsigned unrestricted free agent, the Rams could be in the market for a potential day-one starter at the position. But they also need a starter at right guard, where Scherff would also fit. That versatility makes Scherff a good pick with the 10th choice in the first round.
   1. Guard: With Davin Joseph unlikely to be re-signed, the Rams will surely be searching for someone to start. Rodger Saffold is entrenched as one guard, whether it be on the left or right side. Untested Brandon Washington is on the roster along with free-agent addition Garrett Reynolds, but they are not viewed as to-line starters.
Visits with guards: 5, no workouts
   –A.J. Cann, G, South Carolina (PV)
   –Jamil Douglas, G/T, Arizona State (PV)
   –Tre’ Jackson, G, Florida State (PV)
   –Ali Marpet, G/T, Hobart (PV)
   –Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke (PV)
   2. Tackle: The need on the right side is dependent on whether Joe Barksdale leaves in free agency. If he does, the position is wide open. Even he stays at this point, it might be on a one-year contract, so a drafted tackle would add depth and also help for the future.
Visits with tackles: 6, 1 workout
   –Jamon Brown, T, Louisville (PV)
   –T.J. Clemmings, T, Pittsburgh (PV)
   –La’el Collins, T, LSU (PV)
   –Ereck Flowers, T, Miami (PV)
   –Rob Havenstein, T, Wisconsin (WO)
   –D.J. Humphries, T, Florida (PV)
   –Andrus Peat, T, Stanford (PV)
   3. Center: With Scott Wells a cap casualty, the need there depends on what the team believes the future is for Barrett Jones, Demetrius Rhaney and Tim Barnes. Jones was a fourth-round pick in 2013, but has had injury issues. Rhaney was a seventh-round pick last year and missed the entire season because of a training camp knee injury. The Rams are intrigued by Florida State’s Cam Erving, who was a tackle before playing center for the second half of last season.
Visits with centers: 1
   –Cameron Erving, T/C, Florida State (PV)
Other visits: 17, including 5 QBs, 4 WRs, 4 Des, 6 workouts
   –Neiron Ball, OLB, Florida (WO)
   –Benardrick McKinney, OLB/ILB, Mississippi State (PV)
   –Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson (PV)
   –Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky (PV)
   –Shane Ray, DE Missouri (PV)
   –Deiontrez Mount, DE, Louisville (PV)
   –Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (PV)
   –Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma (PV)
   –DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville (PV)
   –Kevin White, WR, West Virginia (PV)
   –Garrett Grayson, QB, Colorado State (WO)
   –Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State (WO)
   –Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (WO)
   –Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor (PV, WO)
   –Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State (WO)
   –Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State (PV)
   –Ramik Wilson, ILB, Georgia (PV)
   –T Joe Barksdale has been durable and solid manning the right side of the offensive line. The Rams want him back, and is still available after not getting the money he expected.
   –DT Alex Carrington was part of the rotation last season. He can be competitive, but the Rams won’t go very high to re-sign him.
   –LB Will Herring contributed on special teams and was one of the older players on the roster. Head coach Jeff Fisher values special teams, so he might return on a minimum deal.
   –G Davin Joseph was up and down during the 2014 season, but was better than anyone else the Rams had. He is not expected to be re-signed.
   –C Tim Barnes: Not tendered as RFA; $710,017/1 yr, $50,017 RB.
   –WR Kenny Britt: $9.15M/2 yrs, $2.55M guaranteed.
   –QB Austin Davis: RFA tendered at $1.542M with no compensation; $1.542M/1 yr.
   –TE Cory Harkey: RFA tendered at $1.542M with no compensation; $1.542M/1 yr.
   –TE Lance Kendricks: UFA; $18.5M/4 yrs, $10M guaranteed/$4M RB 2015/$1.25M RB 2016.
   –S Rodney McLeod: RFA tendered at $2.356M with second-round pick as compensation); $2.365M/1 yr.
   –RB Chase Reynolds: ERFA; $585,000/1 yr.
   –LB Akeem Ayers: UFA Patriots; $6M/2 yrs, $2.75M guaranteed.
   –DT Nick Fairley: UFA Lions; $5M/1 yr; $1.5M guaranteed.
   –QB Nick Foles (trade Eagles).
   –QB Case Keenum (trade Texans).
   –T/G Garrett Reynolds: UFA Lions; $2.2M/2 yrs, $249,999 RB guaranteed.
   –G Brandon Washington: ERFA; $585,000/1 yr.
   –QB Sam Bradford (traded Eagles).
   –QB Shaun Hill: UFA Vikings; $6.5M/2 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
   –DT Kendall Langford (released).
   –T Jake Long (released/failed physical).
   –T/G Mike Person: UFA Falcons; $3.35M/3 yrs, $500,000 SB.
   –C Scott Wells (released).


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