QB A.J. Feeley, C Hank Fraley, DT Chris Hovan, DT Fred Robbins, OLB Na'il Diggs, OLB Bobby Carpenter, CB Kevin Dockery, S Kevin Payne.
Early Draft Picks:
QB Sam Bradford, OT Rodger Saffold, CB Jerome Murphy, WR Mardy Gilyard, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, DE Hall Davis.
QB Marc Bulger, QB Kyle Boller, TE Randy McMichael, OT Alex Barron, DE Leonard Little, DT Adam Carriker, OLB Paris Lenon, CB Jonathan Wade.
2010 St. Louis Rams Offense:
And the Sam Bradford era begins! Sort of. As of this writing, Bradford isn't getting many of the first-team snaps in minicamps. That could (and probably will) change as we get closer to training camp, but it just goes to show that unlike Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Matt Ryan, Bradford is not pro-ready because he played in a spread shotgun offense. Bradford could very well mature into a great NFL quarterback, but it'll take more time for him to develop than other recently drafted signal-callers.
It's safe to say that either quarterback will struggle. Bradford's not nearly prepared, and while A.J. Feeley has proven that he can win games with tons of talent around him, he just doesn't have much to work with in St. Louis.
The offensive line is a huge question mark. Jason Smith, penciled in at left tackle, started just five games as a rookie last year at right tackle before suffering a season-ending concussion. Smith wasn't terrible in his limited action, but he certainly didn't impress. Playing on Bradford's blind side will prove to be much more challenging, especially if he continues to be hampered by a stress fracture in his toe that knocked him out of minicamps.
Taking Smith's spot at right tackle is rookie Rodger Saffold. Selected No. 33 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, Saffold has potential, but is an unknown commodity.Meanwhile, the interior is a bit better with center Jason Brown, and guards Adam Goldberg and Jacob Bell. Brown and Bell are solid, but Goldberg was responsible for eight sacks and six penalties in 2009.
The receiving corps is in better condition than the offensive line, but lacks a true No. 1. For now, Laurent Robinson and Donnie Avery are the starters. The oft-injured Robinson had 11 receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown in the first two games of the 2009 season, but suffered a fractured fibula and a high ankle sprain that knocked him out for the year. He's healthy now, but based on history, he'll definitely be banged up again soon. Once that happens, Brandon Gibson or rookie Mardy Gilyard will step into the lineup.
Avery, meanwhile, excelled as a No. 2 receiver in 2008 with 53 receptions and 674 yards. He struggled last year because Torry Holt was no longer around; matched up against No. 1 corners, Avery failed to get open. The Rams will have to obtain a new No. 1 receiver next offseason. Luckily for them, the 2011 NFL Draft is packed with dynamic talents like A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Jonathan Baldwin and Michael Floyd.
The only Pro Bowl-caliber weapon Bradford will have at his disposal as a rookie is Steven Jackson. Despite playing on a truly awful team last year and later suffering through painful back spasms, Jackson continued to run hard every single week, earning the respect of many around the league.
There is cause for concern here, however. Jackson had back surgery this offseason, which is never good news. He has also touched the ball a whopping 1,677 times in the past five years. Though he's just 27, Jackson has to be wearing down. The Rams would have been better off sitting him toward the end of the 2009 campaign; all of the carries and receptions in those meaningless games took their toll on Jackson.
2010 St. Louis Rams Defense:
St. Louis' defensive rankings in terms of points allowed over the past five years: 31st, 31st, 31st, 28th and 31st. Well... at least they've never been last! They have that much going for them.
The big story for St. Louis' defense this offseason has been about O.J. Atogwe. The Pro Bowl free safety became on a free agent on June 1. Atogwe re-signed 23 days later, so it's worth noting that his absence at the end of the 2009 campaign made the Rams' secondary look much more pitiful than it already was. Before Atogwe's injury, they surrendered 217.5 passing yards per game. Afterward, that figure rose to 288.5.
When Atogwe suffered that dislocated shoulder, Craig Dahl was forced into the lineup next to strong safety James Butler. Neither was very good in coverage (especially Butler). Of course it didn't help that cornerbacks Ronald Bartell and Justin King struggled mightily, and impressive rookie corner Bradley Fletcher was lost after seven games because of a knee injury. Fletcher will be back, but will he be 100 percent coming off knee surgery?
St. Louis' secondary doesn't have much of a chance if the defensive line can't get pressure on the quarterback, and it doesn't look like that's going to happen. The Rams collected 25 sacks in 2009, as Chris Long didn't progress the way the team expected him to. Long had just five sacks last year, though they all came in Week 8 or later. St. Louis' leader in sacks, Leonard Little (6.5) is no longer with the team, meaning that Long and James Hall will be the starting ends. Hall, 33, notched five sacks in 2009, but all but one came prior to Week 12.
The defensive tackle position is more promising, but only by default. Nose tackle Clifton Ryan is decent against the run, but under tackles Chris Hovan and Fred Robbins are 32- and 33-year-olds on the decline. The Rams will not generate any sort of pass rush up the middle.
If Atogwe doesn't return, St. Louis' best defensive player will be middle linebacker James Lauriniaitis, who had a great rookie season. Unfortunately, the Rams don't have much else in their linebacking corps. The other current starters are Na'il Diggs, who is somehow still in the NFL, and Bobby Carpenter, who can't cover to save his life. Though Diggs and Carpenter have mysteriously been penciled into the lineup, David Vobora is St. Louis' top linebacker outside of Laurinaitis. It'll be a huge upset if Vobora, a former Mr. Irrelevant, doesn't overtake Diggs or Carpenter at some point in 2010.
2010 St. Louis Rams Schedule and Intangibles:
Remember when the Edwards Jones Dome was such a huge advantage for the Greatest Show on Turf? Now, not so much. Of St. Louis' six victories the past three years, four were on the road. Its lone home wins came against Joey Harrington's Falcons and the Brad Johnson-led Cowboys.
A year after drilling 31-of-36 field goals, Josh Brown really struggled, going 19-of-24 in 2009. This marked the first time he hit fewer than 80 percent of his kicks since 2005.
Donnie Jones continued to reign as one of the league's top punters, maintaining a 46.8 average with 34-of-90 kicks inside the 20.
The Rams didn't score a touchdown on special teams, but Danny Amendola performed well, averaging 11.6 yards on punt returns and 24.5 yards on kickoffs. Unfortunately, St. Louis surrendered a special-teams score - its sixth since 2006.
Looking for some winnable games outside of the division, St. Louis has: Oakland on the road (Week 2), Buccaneers on the road (Week 7), Broncos on the road (Week 12) and Chiefs at home (Week 15).
2010 St. Louis Rams Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2010 St. Louis Rams Analysis: The 2010 season looks like another throw-away year for the Rams. Sam Bradford isn't ready; the offensive line is still young; there is no No. 1 receiver; Steven Jackson is coming off back surgery; and the defense still has tons of holes. St. Louis will be much more competitive in 2011; the fans just need to be patient.
The Rams have a long way to go, but they have a plan and are moving in the right direction. They have a new franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, and they made sure to surround him with talent; tackle Rodger Saffold figures to be an upgrade over Alex Barron, and Mardy Gilyard will have a chance to contribute right away.
General manager Billy Devaney made some nice mid- and late-round picks. Jerome Murphy provides the team with much-needed corner depth. Hall Davis could start across from Chris Long. And Fendi Onobun, an athletic freak of nature, has Antonio Gates-type upside.
St. Louis still has a ton of needs, but this team has definitely gotten a lot better.
Overall 2010 NFL Draft Grade given on 4/26/10: A-
2010 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
1. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
I would take Jimmy Clausen, but the bottom line is that the Rams need a quarterback. This pick could not be Ndamukong Suh - it just didn't make any sense. (Pick Grade: A)
33. Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana
Interesting. I didn't expect this, but I like it a lot. The Rams need to make sure they protect Sam Bradford - that's their No. 1 priority right now. Rodger Saffold had a first-round grade by some and can play multiple positions up front. (Pick Grade: A)
65. Jerome Murphy, CB, South Florida
The Rams needed depth at corner and Jerome Murphy fits the range, so I can see why they made this pick. But with such huge issues on the defensive line, receiving/tight end corps and linebacking group, I disagree with this selection. (Pick Grade: C)
99. Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati
The Rams are getting a Round 2-3 receiver atop Round 4, filling a need and giving Sam Bradford a weapon. Great pick to start Day 3. (Pick Grade: A)
132. Michael Hoomanawanui, TE, Illinois
Michael Hooma (I'm not typing that name again) is very good blocker, but I wanted the Rams to find a quality pass-catching tight end for Sam Bradford. (Pick Grade: C)
149. Hall Davis, DE, Louisiana-Lafayette
The Rams finally find their defensive end. Hall Davis is OK value here and fits in well across from Chris Long. (Pick Grade: B)
170. Fendi Onobun, TE, Houston
Fendi Onobun has no experience playing football; he caught two passes last year. He played on Arizona's basketball team for four years. But his Pro Day numbers were off the charts (6-6, 252, 4.45 40, 37.5 vertical). This is a boom-or-bust pick - a nice move in Round 6. (Pick Grade: B)
189. Eugene Sims, DE, West Texas A&M
I don't think this guy was on anyone's radar. The Rams had to add talent to the defensive front, but this is out of left field. (Pick Grade: C)
211. Marquis Johnson, CB, Alabama
More depth in the secondary. I'm pretty indifferent toward this pick, as I didn't have Marquis Johnson drafted. (Pick Grade: C)
226. George Selvie, DE, South Florida
I love this pick. George Selvie had an incredible sophomore season and was then pegged as a first-round prospect. However, he was double-teamed on almost every play the past two years and just wasn't able to produce. Then, he ran an awful 40 at the Combine. Still, Selvie should have gone off the board in Rounds 4-5. (Pick Grade: A)
254. Josh Hull, LB, Penn State
A good college player, but should be relegated to special teams in St. Louis. (Pick Grade: B)
When you're picking second, second and first in three consecutive NFL Drafts, you know things aren't going well. The Rams have just six victories in the past three years and have lost around $250 million in that time span. D'oh!
Titans sign RB Samkon Gado
Rams re-sign S David Roach
Ravens sign QB Marc Bulger
Rams re-sign FS O.J. Atogwe
Rams re-sign OLB Larry Grant
Rams sign DT Chris Hovan
Rams announce retirement of WR Isaac Bruce
Chargers sign TE Randy McMichael
Cowboys acquire OT Alex Barron from Rams for OLB Bobby Carpenter
Rams re-sign OT Alex Barron
Rams acquire S Kevin Payne from Bears for conditional 7th-round pick
Redskins acquire DE/DT Adam Carriker from Rams for exchange of 5th-round picks
Rams re-sign DT Clifton Ryan
Rams re-sign DT Gary Gibson
Raiders sign QB Kyle Boller
Rams sign OLB Na'il Diggs
Rams cut QB Marc Bulger
Rams re-sign CB Quincy Butler
Rams re-sign DE Victor Adeyanju
Rams sign CB Kevin Dockery
Rams sign TE Darcy Johnson
Rams re-sign DE James Hall
Rams re-sign OLB David Vobora
Rams re-sign RB Kenneth Darby
Rams re-sign G Mark Setterstrom
Cardinals sign OLB Paris Lenon
Rams sign C Hank Fraley
Rams re-sign TE Daniel Fells
Lions sign CB Jonathan Wade
Rams sign DT Fred Robbins
Rams sign QB A.J. Feeley
Rams waive TE Derek Fine
Rams tender OLB David Vobora
Rams tender RB Kenneth Darby
Rams claim TE Derek Fine
Quarterback: With six victories in the previous three years, the Rams need a fresh start and new face for their franchise. They MUST pick Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford first overall. There's really no question about this. If they listen to Sun Tan Man's uninformed opinions, they won't have a winning record in the next five years. Defensive tackles don't win in the NFL. See 2009 Redskins (Albert Haynesworth) and the 90s Seahawks (Cortez Kennedy). Drafted Sam Bradford; signed A.J. Feeley
Defensive End: Leonard Little led St. Louis with 6.5 sacks in 2009, but he'll be 36 in October. The team needs a younger, potent option across from Chris Long. This need will be addressed in Rounds 2-4 come April. Drafted Hall Davis
Weakside Linebacker: James Lauriniaitis had a tremendous rookie campaign, and David Vobora has become a solid strongside linebacker. However, the Rams have nothing to speak of besides mediocre Paris Lenon on the weak side. Sean Weatherspoon and Navorro Bowman are both realistic Round 2-3 options.
Tight End: Randy McMichael probably won't be back next year. Assuming the Rams draft a franchise quarterback, they'll look to pair that signal-caller with a reliable tight end like Jermaine Gresham, Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez. Drafted Fendi Onobun and Michael Hoomanawanui
Right Guard: The Rams had enough of Richie Incognito's nonsense and decided to cut him loose in December. Help can be found for this position in the middle rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft. Signed Hank Fraley
No. 1 Wide Receiver: I don't think receiver is a big need in general; the Rams seem like they're content with Laurent Robinson, Donnie Avery and Brandon Gibson. However, they're all secondary wideouts. If St. Louis can somehow land a legitimate No. 1 option, they might pull the trigger. Drafted Mardy Gilyard
Defensive Tackle: The Rams could use a stud like Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy here, but they have solid depth in Adam Carriker, Clifton Ryan, Gary Gibson and Dorell Scott. Scott played well at the end of the 2009 campaign. Signed Fred Robbins and Chris Hovan
Right Tackle: Jason Smith will eventually move over to left tackle. Once that happens, the Rams will need an upgrade on the right side of the front. This is a need that could be addressed next offseason. Drafted Rodger Saffold
Strong Safety: James Butler isn't very good and can be upgraded. However, there are too many more prominent needs for this to happen until next year. Traded for Kevin Payne
Running Back Depth: It wouldn't hurt to have a talented back behind Steven Jackson just in case Jackson can't stay healthy in 2010.
Cornerback Depth: Ronald Bartell and Bradley Fletcher project as a solid duo, but veteran depth is needed behind them. Someone like Rod Hood would be a nice fit. Drafted Jerome Murphy
2010 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Chris Hovan, DT, Buccaneers. Age: 32. Signed with Rams
Chris Hovan really struggled last year, as perhaps age caught up to him. He can be a solid rotational guy, but should not be a starter anymore.
Fred Robbins, DT, Giants. Age: 33. Signed with Rams (3 years, $12 million)
Fred Robbins lost his starting job in the middle of the season. He's a solid rotational guy at best right now.
Hank Fraley, C, Browns. Age: 32. Signed with Rams
A decent reserve center and spot-starter.
A.J. Feeley, QB, Panthers. Age: 33. Signed with Rams (2 years)
One of the top backup quarterbacks in the NFL, A.J. Feeley can be effective if he has to start 2-3 games in a pinch.
Na'il Diggs, OLB, Panthers. Age: 32. -- Signed with Rams
Kevin Dockery (RFA), CB, Giants. Age: 26. -- Signed with Rams
Darcy Johnson (ERFA), TE, Giants. Age: 27. -- Signed with Rams
O.J. Atogwe was one of the few bright spots for the Rams defense this year. When he was placed on IR, St. Louis' ability to defend the pass went into the crapper.
David Vobora (ERFA), OLB, Rams. Age: 24. Re-signed with Rams (1 year)
For a guy who was the final pick of the 2008 NFL Draft, David Vobora really made something of himself. He was solid for the Rams at strongside linebacker this season, and at just 24 years old, he should be able to keep improving.
Leonard Little, DE, Rams. Age: 35.
Leonard Little just had 6.5 sacks. However, he'll be 36 in October. He can't be anything than a rotational pass rusher going forward.
Clifton Ryan (ERFA), DT, Rams. Age: 26. Re-signed with Rams (1 year, $1.6 million)
Clifton Ryan is decent against the run, but offers absolutely no pass rush.
Alex Barron (RFA), OT, Rams. Age: 27. Traded to Cowboys
St. Louis' version of Jeff Backus, Alex Barron inexplicably has been defended ad nauseum by St. Louis' fans and coaching staff. Barron led all offensive linemen in penalties this year.
Marc Bulger, QB, Rams. Age: 34. Signed with Ravens (1 year)
If this were Marc Bulger circa 2006, he would be rated higher. But this 34-year-old version of Bulger is damaged goods and has the David Carr "deer in the headlights" syndrome.
Randy McMichael, TE, Rams. Age: 31. Signed with Chargers (1 year)
Randy McMichael caught more than three passes in a game only once all year. He also averaged a depressing 9.8 yards per reception.
Paris Lenon, OLB, Rams. Age: 32. Signed with Cardinals (3 years)
Should have never been a starter in this league. Could be a solid backup.
Mark Setterstrom (RFA), G, Rams. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Rams (1 year)
Daniel Fells, TE, Rams. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Rams (1 year, $1.5 million)
Divisional Rival History: Arizona Cardinals: Arizona has won the past seven matchups in this series. Its last five victories have been by a combined score of 168-65. San Francisco 49ers: San Francisco has claimed eight of the previous 10 battles in this NFC West rivalry. The 49ers crushed the Rams in two 2009 meetings by the combined score of 63-6. Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have won all 10 matchups after the Rams knocked them out of the playoffs in 2004.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2010 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)