JIm Thomas Rams Chat Highlights: April 29

JT Chat Highlights

—The Rams, like all NFL teams, are always close to the vest. My preferred picks, again based on what was available in the draft was in Sunday’s Post-Dispatch mock: Watkins at No.2 overall and Martin at No. 13. But I have to say I don’t have strong feelings either way. There are a lot of options with those two picks that could lead to good players and address needs.

—I think Houston either takes Clowney or trades out and whoever trades up (Atlanta?) takes him. So the Rams are either looking to trade down from 2 or take one of the OTs. At 13, obviously it depends on who’s there. But I’d say the two corners (GIlbert/Dennard) and even Aaron Donald might be strong possibilities there.

—I think the one thing people continue to underrate is how bad–historically bad –the roster was when Bradford was drafted.

—Watkins At #2? Obviously, there are people upstairs here at Rams Park who like Watkins; I think some like him enough that they would like to draft him at No. 2 overall. But I still don’t think it’s gonna happen. The only reason I put him at No. 2 overall in our last mock draft (Sunday’s) was because I wanted to look at another scenario, especially how it might effect the pick at No. 13 overall.

—They’ve spent four draft picks on WRs in the past two years _ taking one in the first (Austin, 2013), one in the second (Quick, 2012), one in the third (Bailey, 2013), and one in the fourth (Givens, 2014). And remember, they traded up for Austin last year. I just don’t think they want to invest a No. 2 overall pick in another WR.

—Tavon Austin is kind of in a separate category in terms of being a big-play guy both at WR and a PR. But in terms of WR skills, I don’t think there’s anyone in this building who would disagree with the premise that Watkins has better receiving skills than anyone on the current roster.

—Concerned about WR Coaching? Not at this point. It takes some longer than others to develop. Marvin Harrison, for example, didn’t take off until about year 3. Quick obviously is running out of time. Givens seems like he’s seen the light and has matured. We’ll see. I think it’s fine to question the coaching, but I’m not ready to go there (as Spags would say) just yet.

—Odds Both 1st Rounders Offensive Players? I’d have to say less than 50-50.

—Unlike the QBs, the OTs don’t seem to be dropping. I’d have no problem with either Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson at No. 2. I think both of them are gone by 6 or 7.

—Laurinaitis’ cap count drops from $10.4 million this year to $4.02 in 2015. That’s a $6.4 million savings. Long’s cap count drops from $13.2 million in ’14 to $10 million in ’15 _ that’s a savings of $3.2 million. So combined that’s nearly $10 million in extra cap room from just those two players in ’15.

—Myself, I’m just not sure if I see Robinson as a clear cut more dominant player than Matthews or even Lewan. No matter how good of a run blocker you are in this league, you can’t survive in the NFL if you can’t pass block.

—Round for a QB? Again, I’d say Rounds 3-5. Too many candidates to single out one: Savage, Shaw, Murray, McCarron, Garoppolo, etc.

—I’ve had some people in the game who I respect totally say they don’t think it’s necessarily an upgrade _ at least not right away _ if Clowney is drafted and Long is traded. Again, a reminder. Only 5 players in the entire National Football League have more sacks than Chris Long over the last four seasons.

—Barksdale Move Inside? Good question. I’d guess that Robinson or Matthews gets pushed inside at guard for a year.

—There are plenty of candidates for break out player this year. Maybe Brockers. Maybe Givens (again). Maybe Tavon Austin. Maybe Saffold stays healthy, stays at guard and makes the Pro Bowl. Maybe Ray Ray Armstrong moves into a linebacker spot and takes off. On a team this young, there are myriad possibilities.

—I think Lewan, generally considered the No. 3 OT will be gone by #13. So the Rams could either trade up for him, or stay at 13 and take Zack Martin.

—According to Kevin Demoff, the Rams had 100 percent attendance, at least in Week 1. Hard to gauge whether Pead is progressing, because all the Rams players are doing the first two weeks are lifting and conditioning drills. (And the media isn’t allowed to watch.).

—Well I only know for sure of 24 of the 30 players the Rams have brought in for “top 30” visits. I’d be willing to bet at least a couple of the “missing six” are safeties.

—Odds Rams Stay at #2 and #13? I’d say 20%

—Why Trade Down When We Have 12 Picks? Yeah but only three of those picks are in the top two rounds of what’s supposed to be a very talented draft at the top. So I think the ideal would be, trade down a couple, three spots and pick up an extra second.

—Favorite 2nd Round DB and OL? I’d say Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks in the secondary. (I’d through in Jason Verrett, too, if he isn’t taken in the first.). As for o-lineman, I’d say Joel Bitonio; maybe Billy Turner.

—Dix or Gilbert at #13? I think Gilbert’s the better value there.

—I think Donald would be especially tempting at 13 if the Rams didn’t take a pass-rusher (Clowney or Mack) early.

—Do the Rams think Bailey can be a Starter? I believe so.

—Obviously it’s a tough schedule, especially with the way it’s structured. But I do think the Rams can get to .500 if _ and I repeat, IF _ they get some meaningful immediate help from this draft and stay healthy overall.

—Pryor at #13? Pryor’s a strong safety. And he has only average speed for the position (I think 4.58 at the Combine).

—“Mad” Mike–56-36 as Rams head coach, 61% winning percentage. Rams since Martz’s dismissal: 37-90-1, for a 29% winning percentage.

—What Was It Like Being in the War Room in 2001? It was fun. I was just allowed in like 5 minutes before the pick and 5 minutes after the pick. The Rams had three first rounders that year, and used them for Damione Lewis, Adam Archuleta, and Ryan Pickett. The Rams stayed true to their board on the first two picks. The third pick _ Pickett _ who easily turned out to be the best of the three picks, was the most interesting. There was a fairly lengthy discussion between Armey and Martz over who to take at No. 29 overall. It seemed like Martz wanted DE Aaron Schobel and said that Pickett was the kind of player the Rams were trying to avoid having on their roster (Pickett had a reputation coming out of Ohio State as not necessarily being the hardest worker.) Armey said Schobel had pretty much reached his ceiling and that Pickett had a lot of upside. Martz was persuaded, the Rams took Pickett who is still in the league. Or at least still was in 2013. Schobel was taken midway through the 2nd round by Buffalo.

—I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they took a tackle with one of those top two picks, and then came back in the second or third rounds with a guard.

—Who Has the most Influence in player selection? I don’t know if I can pick out anyone specifically among the scouts. But Rich Snead (no relation to Les) has worked with Fisher for many years in Tennessee and certainly has Fisher’s ear. Rich Snead has the title of senior player personnel analyst. During Fisher’s year out of football, they frequently watched taped together in Nashville.

—Robinson= Jason Smith? Interesting point. I don’t think so. But everyone was raving about Smith at the time and what an aggressive road-grader he was. The Rams would’ve been better off with the better pass-blocker _ Eugene Monroe.

—What round for a WR if no Watkins? I’d say second or third. But there’s not guarantee they will come out of this draft with an early-round WR.

—Certainly the coordinators have input on draft day and leading up to the draft as well.

—Again, three of the four QBs who started in the conference championship games this past season were NOT first-rounders. What makes you think you can’t get a keeper outside the first round? In fact, given the uncertain state of the top 3 or 4 QBs in this year’s draft, I think you have a better chance of finding a keeper outside the first round in 2014. Plus, assuming there’s the next Elway, Manning, or even Andrew Luck in next year’s draft, even if Bradford “tanks” I don’t think the Rams are finishing 1-15. And you’ll have to be No. 1 overall to get that kind of a talent. And lastly, what makes you think the QBs next year won’t be WORSE than this year’s. There are no guarantees what will be there in 2015.

—Doesn’t seem like a trade down from No. 2 seems all that likely at this point, but again, I think we’ve said all along that if there is such a trade it probably wouldn’t happen until draft day.

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