St. Louis Rams Draft Review

by Tommy Lawlor  –  ScoutsNotebook.com

ST. LOUIS RAMS

1 – QB Sam Bradford – Oklahoma
2 – OT Rodger Saffold – Indiana
3 – CB Jerome Murphy – USF
4 – WR Mardy Gilyard – Cincinnati
5 – TE Michael Hoomanawanui – Illinois
5 – DE Hall Davis – La Lafayette
6 – TE Fendi Onobun – Arizona / Houston
6 – DE Eugene Sims – West Texas A&M
7 – DB Marquis Johnson – Alabama
7 – DE George Selvie – USF
7 – LB Josh Hull – Penn State

St. Louis had the #1 overall pick and went for Oklahoma star Sam Bradford.  He gives them a franchise QB to build the team around.  Bradford missed most of 2009 with a shoulder injury and that did have to affect the Rams thinking, but in the end they saw a player that was too good to pass on.  The NFL is a QB league.  Either you have one or you don’t.  Marc Bulger had clearly started to descend and the cupboard was bare.  Bradford had to be the pick.    

The Rams organization has fallen on hard times of late.  Do you realize that they’ve only got 6 wins in the last 3 years?  Oakland and even Detroit are better than that.  The Rams need a lot of help, but QB was the most important position to upgrade.  And Bradford does that.

Sam has good size at 6’4, 236.  He carries himself like a pro player.  He’s smart and confident, but not cocky or abrasive.  He’s a leader.  He’s deceptively athletic.  He might look just like a pocket passer, but he is far from a stiff.  Sam has a good arm.  Maybe his best quality is his accuracy.  OU ran the spread, but they weren’t as dink ‘n dunk as many other teams.  Sam made plenty of pro throws.  His accuracy gave his players a chance to use their RAC skills and that led to a lot of big plays.  It’s hard to say how good Sam is at reading defenses because he didn’t have to do that as much in the spread, but he does seem to make good decisions.

The 2008 Sooners had one of the great offenses in the history of college football.  They had a terrific OL, great skill players, and lots of depth.  The key was the trigger-man.  Bradford ran the offense to near perfection.  OU scored 60 or more points in 5 straight games.  They had another 4 games of 50 or more points.  That is crazy.

All rookie QBs are projects on some level, but Sam should be able to adapt pretty quickly.  He is mechanically sound.  He will have to get used to playing in a pro system and against pro competition.  The Big 12 South has some good defenders, but the defenses down there aren’t exactly murderer’s row.  Maybe the most interesting thing about Sam’s move to the NFL will be to see how he handles adversity.  Other than the injuries life was pretty good at Oklahoma.  Things will be tough from Day One in St. Louis.  Good luck.

In the early 2nd the Rams took Indiana OT Rodger Saffold.  Another good pick.  St. Louis must build up an O-line to block for Bradford or picking him was meaningless.  Saffold was a 4-year starter for the Hoosiers.  He played LT for IU, but doesn’t have great feet.  That will push him to the right side early in his career.  If Jason Smith turns out to be the stud LT the Rams hope, Saffold could stay at RT.  I was impressed with Saffold all year long.  My only concern was whether he could handle OT.  I love him as a run blocker.  I think he can be a really good OG if he can’t handle pass pro on the edge.  Saffold had a really good week at the Shrine Game and that boosted his value.  He then had a terrific performance at the Combine and showed just how athletic he is.  Off the field, this is a great pick as well.  Rodger is a high character guy.  Bad teams don’t turn around just on talent.  They need the right kind of people as well as the right kind of players.  Saffold can be a leader on the OL and a good presence in the locker room.

St. Louis went for CB Jerome Murphy in the 3rd round.  He was part of a very good USF secondary in 2009.  Murphy has good size at 6’0, 195 and he is very talented.  Outstanding press corner.  He loves to be physical with receivers and jam the heck out of them.  Murphy is a good athlete and had a productive career.  He picked off 8 passes and made his share of plays for USF.  I thought he was going to go in the early 3rd, which is right where the Rams took him.  Jerome had a good showing at the Senior Bowl and Combine.  Steve Spagnuolo loves physical CBs so this pick makes a ton of sense from that standpoint.  I did hear some rumblings that there might be character concerns about Murphy.  Rumor was that he liked to party a bit too much.  The Rams didn’t seem bothered by that or felt he was worth the risk.

In the 4th round St. Louis took WR Mardy Gilyard from the University of Cincinnati.  Interesting pick.  Gilyard had a terrific career for the Bearcats.  He was a great KOR and very productive WR.  In the last 2 years he had 22 TD catches and 4 KORs.  That is flat out impressive.  Mardy is tough and instinctive.  He has good hands.  He does lack great speed, surprisingly.  Gilyard can be a very good role player.  He can play in the slot and be the KOR.  He has PR experience as well and could factor in there.  Gilyard did have character concerns.  He’s got a crazy past that is far too complicated for me to address here.  He’s very emotional and that brings out the best and worst in him.  I think Mardy can be a good NFL player, but he definitely needs the right environment.  I’m not sure he’ll find that in St. Louis.  He needs structure and order.  The Rams don’t have that right now.  This could be a great pick or a wasted choice.

The Rams had a pair of picks in the 5th round.  They started by taking Illinois TE Michael Hoomanawanui.  He is huge at 6’4, 267.  I love his potential.  Hoomanawanui is a solid athlete for his size.  He is an okay receiver.  He didn’t get the best QB play at Illinois.  The biggest problem is durability.  He missed multiple games in 3 of 4 years.  He also played while hurt.  That’s admirable, but the point is that you don’t want players who get hurt that often.   Hoomanawanui has the potential to be a solid player in the pros.  I’m not sure he can ever start, but he could be a good backup TE and also play some H-back.  He has a ton of potential as a blocker.

The next pick was DE Hall Davis from La-Lafayette.  He has excellent size at 6’4, 271.  He’s the kind of guy you look at as a LDE.  Davis is a limited pass rusher (6 sacks over the last 2 years).  He does have the frame to be the left end and play the run.  The Rams D-line needs all the help it can get.  I know some scouts really liked Davis and thought he could make it so I’m not shocked he went in the mid-5th.  Spags liked tall, long DEs when he was with the Giants so the fit makes sense from that standpoint.

In the 6th round St. Louis took a flier on TE Fendi Onobun.  He played basketball at Arizona and then spent one year playing football at Houston.  Onobun is very raw, but he does have talent.  He’s got a great frame at 6’5, 252.  At his Pro Day he ran 4.48, had a VJ of 37.5, and his Broad Jump was 11-1.  Wow.  The guy is big, fast, and explosive…all good traits for a TE.  He only had 2 catches for Houston.  He’ll need a lot of coaching, but was worth the risk in the 6th round.

The next 6th rounder was Eugene Sims, a D2 pass rusher.  He played at West Texas A&M.  Sims piled up 17 sacks and 3 FFs over the last couple of seasons.  He’s very athletic and is the kind of tall, rangy DE that Spags likes.  Sims lists at 6’5 or 6’6 and weighs in the 240 range.  He’ll need to bulk up for the NFL, but that’s a good frame.  He will challenge for a spot as a situational rusher this year.  He might be an ideal candidate for the Practice Squad.

The Rams had 3 picks in the 7th round.  First up was CB Marquis Johnson from Alabama.  The starters were Arenas and Kareem Jackson, but Marquis played quite a lot due to the high number of 3 and 4 receiver sets.  He broke up 17 passes in ’09.  That’s crazy for a backup CB.  Marquis (5’10, 188) was a good player over the last couple of years.  He comes to the Rams to find a spot in the Nickel or Dime defenses.

How the mighty have fallen.  George Selvie was an elite player a few years back, but ended up going to St. Louis in the 7th round.  Wow.  Selvie was great for half of his Redshirt-Sophomore year, but never could get close to that form again.  He lacks ideal size or athletic ability.  George posted great career numbers (69 TFLs, 28.5 sacks), but the reality is that he was only a mediocre prospect.  I don’t mind the Rams taking a chance on him this late.  You never know how a guy will respond to pro coaching.   It also seems the Rams decided to play the numbers game and add as many DE prospects as they could.  Go for quantity instead of quality.

The final pick was LB Josh Hull.  He led Penn State in tackles in 2009 and is everything you want in terms of character.  He is the ultimate try-hard guy.  I watched Josh play quite a bit and I don’t think he’s NFL material.  Effort isn’t enough at LB in the NFL.  You’ve got to be able to play in space and be an excellent tackler in traffic.  Hull’s numbers look great, but the tape shows him to be a sloppy tackler too often.  He will need to really stand out on STs in order to win a roster spot.

I have a problem with the overall draft class.  St. Louis is trying to build a good young team.  They did add talent, but in my mind took too many projects.  You build with solid players and then mix in some projects.  I can’t look at any player taken in the 5th, 6th, or 7th rounds and absolutely say I feel confident he’ll make the roster.  I’m sure the Rams would tell me that those guys have really high ceilings and could develop into very good players.  That is true, but the point is that I think they took too many chances.  Risk is good, but there’s nothing wrong with mixing in safe picks as well.

Rams draft tracker at NFL.com

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