The NFL Draft has come and gone but that doesn’t mean the talk has stopped. Now comes the time when sports writers, media members and NFL experts analyze this past weekend’s picks. While it is fun to look at the picks and see what grades these experts hand out, often the grades are meaningless. Because as we all know the true grade of an NFL team’s draft is not known until years later. I think a much better way of looking at the drafts is through fits. Does the player fit the team? Does he fill a need or provide an upgrade? Is the player in a position to use his skills to the best of their ability?
However it seems that some local media, and fans, have taken to attack the Rams draft this past week. As I said I am not going to grade the draft or even say that all of these players will be stars. The draft is a lottery, sometimes you hit on it and sometimes you don’t. However I do feel that each of the players taken answer one of the aforementioned questions in regards to fitting with the team, scheme, and opportunity.
I have heard some people locally argue that the Rams failed to get playmakers, not addressing the wide receiver position or everyone’s favorite topic the quarterback position. I agree that the Rams could use an upgrade at wide receiver and need legitimate depth at quarterback but not at the risk of passing on player’s that can make the team better. Would Sammy Watkins have been the best receiver on the team from day one? Probably. However he would not be in position to succeed. The Rams at this time are not a throwing team. Remember they tried that at the start last year and it did not go so well. Sam Bradford is the quarterback and has been giving the reigns, whether you like it or not, to the offense. So why would you pick a quarterback from a draft class that has just as many questions as they do positives? There was no guarantee of a quarterback in this year’s draft. Just as much luck in having a healthy and good Bradford as you did in drafting one this year; and remember Bradford has already shown signs he can be successful in the NFL (not just college).
What we have seen from people locally that are upset with the draft is an attack not because these players are not good but because they simply do not like the way the Rams have designed their team. Yes last summer everyone was excited with talk about opening the offense up, using three and four receiver sets. Throwing the ball around. But please people, look back at how well that worked early last season. Just because you do not like the Rams’ ground and pound style does not mean it is not successful. I grew up playing Madden football, I love to score points. But I am a realist. It was NOT working for the Rams last year.
This past draft strengthened the team how Fisher wants it built. Won in the trenches. They picked up mammoth offensive lineman, added a pass rushing defensive tackle, a versatile defensive back and another runner to compliment their bruising backs they already have. So no it is nothing fancy. But Seattle didn’t need fancy to win last year did they? No they handed the ball off to a beast of a running back. They won with an imposing defense. And this ground and pound team certainly out played the fancy Denver Broncos.
This is what the Rams are looking to do. They want to build up the team with large men that will beat you into the ground. Whether it is the typical male mentality inherently built in or what but it is demoralizing when a team can just keep running on you over and over. This is what the Rams hope to do by adding Greg Robinson. The Rams added to an already strong defensive line with their second pick in Aaron Donald. No he wasn’t a need but why not make your team strength that much better? A constant pass rush from just four men allows the rest of the defense more room to roam and immediately will improve the secondary. It is much easier to guard a man for two or three seconds than for five or six seconds and that is what the Rams want to do on defense. Get after the opposing quarterback and not let him settle in the pocket.
Now we have people questioning Fisher’s strategy. He tried to adapt this team to the new age football last year. It didn’t work. As a good coach he made the adjustment back to what works for his team, ground and pound. Have people so quickly forgotten what the Rams were in the decade before he arrived? The team that was blown off the field every week and had no chance of winning. Fisher has put together a competitive team and no they have not made the playoffs yet and I do hope they take the next step. Sure the games may not be exciting but I at least I enjoy watching games each week now knowing they have a chance at winning. When Fisher was hired he was never billed as an offensive minded guru. No, he was a tough, intense coach that would stabilize the team. And that is what he has done.
As I said all the players drafted this year may not work out for the Rams, but for the moment, they fit what the team wants to do. And yes a high powered offense is always exciting to watch but these are not going to be the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams. They are a team that wants to win on the ground and with defense. So stop being so picky people, remember the previous decade. I’ll take a competitive team each week right now with an eye of hope on the future for taking the next step. Let’s wait until Fisher gets through his initial contract and has a chance to build the team he wants before we start pushing him out the door just because we don’t like his style. Remember stability is what benefits winning teams not instability.