Some of you are probably wondering why I put up a blog about the Rams but, if you notice, I changed the group name. It was previously "St. Louis Cardinal Die Hards"... it is now "St. Louis Die Hards". I did this for a few reasons. 1) This now means the group will go on all year instead of 6 months of the baseball season. 2) The number of members in the group will rise considering we get fans from not only 1 team, but 4-5 teams (now up to 8). So from now on the group is not only Cardinal fans but Cardinal/Ram/Billiken/Blues fans!
Here's my unsolicited draft advice for the St. Louis Rams: Go Long.
With the No. 2-overall pick in the April 26 NFL draft, the Rams should select Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long - if available - or Virginia defensive end Chris Long. Either player would be a good fit in St. Louis and help immediately.
And if you don't think the Rams need instant help, you haven't seen their 2008 schedule. The first half is brutal.
Let's first examine Jake Long, a big-time player from a big-time school. He is the consensus No. 1 offensive tackle among draft experts, ranking ahead of Boise State's Ryan Clady, Vanderbilt's Chris Williams and Pitt's Jeff Otah.
Some scouts say Long would make a better right tackle because of his ability to fire off the snap and drive defenders backward in the running game. He might not be quite as athletic as some of the other prospects, but that doesn't mean he couldn't develop into a great left tackle.
The Rams could use-no, make that need-another tackle. Orlando Pace is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, but he turns 33 in November and upper-body injuries have aborted his last two seasons. Alex Barron has started 43 games since being drafted in the first round in 2005, but he has yet to show signs he'll be anything more than a mediocre NFL lineman.
When left tackle Pace sustained a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder in the first half of the 2007 season opener, it set off a ripple effect. Barron was moved from the right side to the left, backup Milford Brown moved into Barron's old spot (briefly) and street free agent Brandon Gorin was signed to add depth.
That was just the start of an ugly line dance in St. Louis. Guards Mark Setterstrom, Richie Incognito and Adam Goldberg all joined Pace on injured reserve, various linemen wound up playing out of position and the offense was largely inept.
Quarterback Mark Bulger missed four games because of multiple injuries. When he did play, he often looked uncomfortable in the pocket behind the porous line. If the Rams want to keep Bulger upright and healthy, the pick should be Jake Long.
If he is off the board, the Rams' choice should be Howie's son. Chris Long could add some life to an anemic pass rush that registered only 31 sacks last season.
If you think that's bad, consider this: The primary defensive ends accounted for only 3 1/2 sacks-2 1/2 by James Hall and one by Leonard Little, who injured his toe and went on I.R. after playing in only seven games.
As a senior, Chris Long had 14 sacks and 23 pressures playing end in Virginia's 3-4 defense. He is 6-4 and 266 pounds, so he should be able to hold up against the run when not harassing quarterbacks.
St. Louis officials also will consider LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. But the team already has two young, developing defensive tackles in Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan in addition to an aging but still productive La'Roi Glover. Besides, the Rams have misfired in years past when they've selected a defensive tackle in the first round.
Ohio State defensive end/outside linebacker Vernon Gholston also is high on the team's board. But he is more of a pass-rush specialist than an every-down player, and he was inconsistent in college.
The team also will be tempted to trade out of the No. 2 spot. But that would be a mistake when it can stay put and get one of two premier players, a guy who could help immediately and for many years to come.
The Rams can do no wrong ... if they pick Long.
- Jay (StLDieHard)