Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Random thoughts after the Draft.

Here we are 72 hours removed from the 2010 draft. Has my mood lightened? Has my assessment of the situation improved? Do I think we earned a B-grade as many experts seem to say?

The short answers to those three questions are: (1) Not much, (2) yes, (3) no. I'll unpack those answers just a bit.

My mood has not lightened, as regards the Rams in 2010. I think we tally 2 or 3 victories in 2010. We may be much improved, but we will still draft #2 or #3 this time next year. We're not going to pull a magic turn around. Further, there will be no particularly strong units on our football team. None of the several units will be exceptional... unless we sign Alan Faneca. Then the offensive line can be exceptional. More about this later.

If we can finish the season with Sam Bradford moderately healthy, that will be the moral victory of 2010. In 2009 the Detroit Lions drafted Matt Stafford #1 and gave him a record breaking contract. They waited a couple of games, then threw him head-long into the shark tank, sink-or-swim style. He did pretty well, but he had crap-ass protection. Oh, ghee! I forgot the 3 or 4 human sieves on the offensive line. How could I do such a thing? Matt needed two (2) surgeries at the start of 2010. The orthopedic specialist sliced his shoulder and his knee.

Anytime your quarterback undergoes 2 surgeries, you know you are suffering from crappy protection. Nuff'said.

This exact storyline could play out with Sam Bradford in 2010. If it does, 2010 is a catastrophe. I am beginning to get a little optimistic about our O-Line, but don't take that statement too far.

We flushed the toilet on Incognito last season. We appear ready to pull the chain on the commode vis-a-vis Alex Barron. If we do, the two biggest malefactors on our offensive line will be gone at the start of 2010. That, in itself, is a serious upgrade. That is addition by subtraction.

But wait! It gets better. We drafted Rodger Safford, a quality guy from Indiana. I've done some investigation over the past 72 hours, and he comes highly recommended. The Indiana press considers him one of the finest products their football team has ever produced. Several Big-10 products (including my step dad and a Michigan guy here at work) have no idea why Rodger wasn't ranked as the top tackle in the draft. Now when a Buckeye and Wolverine can can agree that Hoosier is the best tackle in the draft... Jesus... cats and dogs living together in sin.

Saffold had a 1st round grade from most teams. The Packers were planning to take in him their 1st round pick. They never expected Bulaga to be there. Saffold fell down the board to us. As you know, we saw some action on the #33 pick. The teams that were dealing with us for that #33 pick wanted to draft Saffold. We took him. Nice! Hopefully he will lock down that right tackle position which has been a serious problem for us since 1994. You can argue we've had problems with that ROT position ever since Jackie Slater began to break down in 1993. That's 17 years without a solid incumbent.

The line is still not solid yet. I don't like our guards. I've talked about Jacob Bell many times before. Goldberg is basically our utility backup. However, Alan Faneca just got released by the Jets. Clearly, we should get him. Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Brian Price, Dan Williams and guy named Albert Haynesworth are all on our schedule this season. Any one of those guys can airmail Sam Bradford back to Dr. James R. Andrews. I would feel a lot better with Alan Faneca blocking one or all of them. I am sure Sam would too.

If you smash Albert Haynesworth with Brown and Faneca, we can handle him. Same thing for Dan Williams. Suh is a greater problem. They will square him against Jacob Bell rather than Faneca. Bell and Brown might be able to handle him... or maybe not.

The Tampa game is the true danger-match. If you ask me to predict when Sam Bradford suffers his season ending injury in 2010, the answer is: October 24, 2010 Raymond James Stadium. That is week 7 of the 2010 NFL season. Mr. Devaney: If you don't want to see this happen, sign Alan Faneca. Don't haggle about money. Just pick up his contract as-is.

If you trash Incognito, draft Saffold, sign Faneca, and trash Barron, the result is a night-vs-day comparison. That is like darkness at the bottom of 4 mile deep mineshaft vs. the sunshine of at noon in the Sahara desert. That's a transforming upgrade. We could have a very good line at that point. There is no comparison between Faneca and Icognito. This is the difference between a future Hall of Famer and a bum who taunts officials before game winning field goals. I doubt there is any comparison between Smith and Barron either. This is the difference between a stupid guy and kid who did graduate work before his athletic eligibility ran out.

But we still have no receivers... Many have commented that a young quarterback needs receivers like a babby needs his mother's breast milk. If they don't get it, they grow-up stunted, and runted, developmentally retarded for life.

This brings me to my point of greatest anger with Billy Devaney. Most of the NFL Illuminati were shocked that Devaney did not select a WR at round #2 and/or #3. Many suspected we would select WRs in one or both slots. Instead we took Saffold, which is perfectly understandable. No criticism there. We all accept that as a wise choice. You have to protect the franchise.

Then we take a fucking CB! No offense to Jerome Murphy of South Florida, but this selection just isn't the remedy for the aliment. He can turn out to be a Hall of Famer, and he still won't be the remedy to our aliment. Just as you wouldn't prescribe menstrual cream for a 60 year old man with cancer, you don't take a corner when you need receivers. This is the wrong answer.

We wait until round 4 to select Mardy Gilyard. After that we get absolutely nothing, and I do mean absolutely nothing. A basketball forward is not a tight end. A blocking tight end is not a receiver threat. Forget about those choices.

According to several pieces by Bernie Miklasz, HC Steve Spagnuolo wanted to balance the selection of Bradford with several defensive picks. Don't forget the defense, Spagnuolo cautioned. When challenged on his lack of receivers and highly questionable tight end selections, Devaney said something to the effect of "Ghee, I though our receivers were pretty good."

If Bernie is reporting Devaney accurately, that statement is a very bad sign. I mean it is a bad, bad sign. Bad with a capital BAD. I mean we're in a lot of trouble. If our GM's perception is that far off the market, we are going to have a long ugly season in 2010.

So here we come to the focal point of the maelstrom. This is where I have to land some blows. This is where I would have done things utterly differently. Given the first two picks as fait accompli, I would have done the following:
  1. At pick 65, top of the 3rd round, I would have selected Damian Williams of USC. As the 56th ranked talent on the board, he would have been a high-value at 65. He would have also filled a need. Dezmond Briscoe would have been a figure I was looking at here also.
  2. In the fourth round I probably would not have selected Mardy Gilyard. No offense to Mardy. I am glad we have him now, but I would have been looking for a tight end. Dorin Dickerson of Pitt, and Dennis Pitta of BYU are the guys I would have chosen between here. In all honesty, I am not sure which way I would have gone at this split instant. Since he is a poorman's Dallas Clark, I probably would have taken Pitta
  3. In the 5th I would have taken Dorin Dickerson of Pitt. I would have been stunned that he was still on the board. At 6-4 and 226 and 4.4 speed, we'e talking about the Brandon Marshall of this draft class. At worst he is the new Shannon Sharpe. I'll take that any day. This is the missing player I am most sore about. If you want to know why I am pissed, just think Dorin Dickerson. I know Dickerson was taken in the 7th round, and I know I would have reached here, but I just trying to be honest with you. I would have taken him here.
  4. In the 6th round I would have taken Kansas's Dezmond Briscoe. I would have been stunned that he was still here. I would have considered him and even taken him in the 4th.
From that point on I would have been selecting offensive linemen.

So there you have it folks. Receivers, receivers and more receivers. That's what I would have taken. Here is my reasoning:
  1. Having taken leave of our senses and passing on Suh for Bradford, we have now sunk the #1 pick in a frail QB. Only a fool would do this, but we did it. The deal is done and done.
  2. We are going to have to invest something like $80 million to sign Bradford This is the price of a modest Hollywood epic, or the price of half an off-shore oil platform. This will officially make Sam Bradford the highest paid Ram in Rams history.
  3. Having invested the #1 pick and $80 in a QB, I am not on the hook to give him every weapon necessary for him to be successful. If he fails, my tally-wacker is going sliced-fine, just like salami.
  4. Ergo, I will take Rodger Saffold, a host of receiver candidates, and sign Alan Faneca.
  5. At this point, we will have some prayer of putting together some 20+ point games.
  6. Spagnulo and the DC just have to accept the fact that we took a QB this year and have to make him successful. This means forsaking the defense in the 2010 draft.
  7. Make it clear to Spagnuolo & the DC that they will not be held accountable for defensive breakdowns in 2010. Make it clear that they will get a pass in 2010. We know we forsook the defense in the draft.