By Rams Nation's Forum Member: o0O0o
On offense, Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger are two excellent quarterbacks with a bit of an injury bug, but hopefully that was only a fluke. Isaac Bruce is slowing down a bit but in my mind is still one of the best route runners in the league, which is what the Rams need. I don't think they need speed as much as awareness. Ricky Proehl proved that. Torry Holt is still growing and can become a great player, similar to Isaac Bruce. Troy Edwards came out of his shell a little bit last year and as long as he keeps progressing, the former first-rounder can be a superb third receiver. Terrence Wilkins was a bit of a bust last year but he could just need a little more time. What surprises me is that Yo Murphy and Dane Looker seem to have not been given a chance by the Rams yet. I think they can be valuable fourth or fifth receivers, filling the hole that Ricky Proehl left (which I don't think is as big as people think).
At tight end, I sure as hell hope that the Rams re-sign Conwell. He is one of the best all-around tight ends in the league but doesn't steal the headlines. This is good, because we might be able to keep him for cheap money. Brandon Manumaleuna has soft hands and a big body to block opposing lineman or linebackers. If, for some reason, the Rams can't keep Conwell, it's not hard to find a tight end later in the draft.
The running back position is set with Marshall in there. Lamar "Flash" Gordon played well last year as a backup and can eventually become a NFL starter. At fullback there are some concerns, but it has never been a huge factor in this offense. In the rare occasions that we use a fullback in formation, Conwell can be used efficiently (assuming he's re-signed). James Hodgins was a great player, but was another player that was overpaid in free agency.
The offensive line seems to be the biggest question mark so far this offseason, but have no worries. They played horribly in 2002 and the Rams are looking to reload. Orlando Pace's greed has taken hold of him and he will soon be gone - the only thing the Rams need to figure out is where. This will give the Rams much more cap room and draft picks, hopefully. In the case that they acquire Kyle Turley (who I would love to have as an addition), Pace's shoes are easily filled. While Turley isn't as good as Pace, last season showed that one lineman can't make a difference. What we need is more consistency throughout the whole line. Don't be misled by the rumors that Turley was a bad "locker room" presence. He is a good player with a down-to-earth attitude that can bring the team something that I think they were missing most last season - spark. The other side is questionable, with John St. Clair assuming the starting position, although Williams may take it away from him. The coaches don't seem to be too worried about either, and I think that St. Clair will improve in training camp. Tom Nutten departed, and I believe that Travis Scott can step up to play. He was injured last season, but impressed Ram scouts enough to be drafted, and was supposed to be one of our "sleepers" in the draft. He has good technique, a huge body, and was overlooked by other scouts because he didn't get much playing time in college (because of his child's illness). Adam Timmerman is a mainstay at the other guard position. Enough said. The signing of former Brown Dave Wohlabaugh was a very good one. We got him cheap and he was a great center for Cleveland. He will provide veteran leadership for younger guys like Travis Scott and is a consistent player.
I think once the Rams can get Orlando out of town, they will know for certain how much money (and draft picks) they have left to deal with and will look more into the free agency field.
On defense, there isn't as much of a problem as people think. The defensive line is fine. I don't see too big of a need to re-sign Jeff Zgonina with Jackson coming back and Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis finally stepping up.
Jamie Duncan was an obvious bust last year, but I'd give him another chance in training camp. Robert Thomas was playing well at the end of last year and could play outside linebacker or be moved to middle linebacker (in which case the Rams could draft an outside linebacker in the 3rd or 4th round). Some depth is needed, and the Rams will probably take care of that later on when the price goes down.
The cornerback situation is simple. Aeneas Williams re-signed to help the cap space, Dre Bly cost too much, and Dexter McCleon sucked too much. All the cornerbacks left in free agency also cost too much, so the Rams are wisely staying put as of now. Travis Fisher was a great find in the draft and could start if we needed him to. Hopefully the Rams can get one of the top two cornerbacks in the first round (this also depends on what we get for Pace and who falls to us in the draft), taking care of the problem there. Look for them to possibly sign a cheap free agent.
At safety, Adam Archuleta proved his worth last year. He will be one of the cornerstones in the defense for many years to come. Kim Herring isn't that great, but provides a veteran presence and is consistent. We'll have to see how Steve Bellisari and Nick Sorensen (a favorite of mine) do in training camp.
My main point is that the Rams aren't in as bad a shape as some of you seem to think. They just need to get the Pace situation figured out, and I think they'll be able to get things situated from there. We don't need to sign any huge free agent star like Hugh Douglas. Remember that we are not the Redskins. The Rams are being patient right now because they know that there isn't much talent out there, and everyone is being overpaid.
Most of the free agent signings out there look nice at first, but with the NFL's salary cap, they'll probably hurt their teams more then help them. The Rams are thinking long-term right now, being cautious of who they sign and remembering that they'll have to re-sign Wistrom and Holt next year.
The free agents this year are being signed on a curve - their salaries are being based on how good they are compared to other free agents out there, not how they compare to the rest of the league - and their teams will eventually find that out.