Rookie Impact Report-St. Louis Rams
Written by Curt Popejoy on 07/25/2012
This article is one I did as a contributor for the site www.getrealfootball.com. It's a great site and one that I look forward to working with a lot in the near future. Check them out and find them on twitter at www.twitter.com/getrealfootball
When you are a bad football team, the window of time for rookies to see the field and impact their team is very small. If you are drafted, you’d better be ready to play. The positions of need were pretty obvious for a team that could only muster 2 wins. Lots of holes to fill. The Rams front office was aggressive with its picks and took several high risk/high reward players and all in all look to have a group of players who not only will see the field as key substitutes, but could very well be in the starting lineup.
Michael Brockers, DT-The selection of Brockers in the first round was a bit puzzling for lots of Rams fans. I don’t think most considered defensive tackle their top need. But if you look at 2011, the Rams gave up nearly 5 yards per carry. The interior of the defensive line was soft and they couldn’t get off the field on third down. Adding Brockers adds a penetrating interior athlete who won’t be able to be double teamed due to Chris Long and Robert Quinn on the edges. Impact-High
Isaiah Pead, RB-There are not many people who are bigger Steven Jackson fans than me. Since being drafted in 2004, he’s been the consummate professional giving supreme effort for his team. But his physical style of play, tremendous amount of carries and that magical number of 30, as in nearing 30 years old all mean that this run game is going to need some help. That’s where this pick comes in handy. Pead is coming into a situation where he’s almost certainly going to be part of a running back tandem, whether it’s by design or by necessity Pead will see the field. He is a great dual threat player who is as adept at running the football as he is catching it out of the backfield. I fully expect to see Pead on the field better than 30 percent of the time, and approach 1,000 total yards of offense and 6 total touchdowns. Impact-High
Brian Quick, WR-If there was one glaring need for the Rams last year it was wide receiver. I think most Rams fans were hoping for a first round pick spent on a player like Justin Blackmon, but the Rams sat tight and what was an eventful 2nd round they drafted Quick out of Appalachian State. Personally I think they over drafted a player who for all intents and purposes already have on their roster in Danario Alexander. I realize that Alexander has been bitten hard by the injury bug, and that is valid. But I’m just not sure if the style of play that Quick favors helps the Rams. They need players who can get deep in a hurry, stretch the field and give quarterback Sam Bradford some confidence. Quick will be likely be pressed into service, probably as a No. 3 wide out behind starters Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola, and so he will be targeted early and often. Impact-Medium
Janoris Jenkins, CB-When Jenkins transferred to Division II North Alabama I cringed. But only because I am a DII guy and didn’t want to think about my Pittsburg State University Gorillas having to play against him. But in all seriousness, the Rams were serious about upgrading their secondary and they did just that. First they sign free agent corner Cortland Finnegan, and then draft Jenkins who should start across from him. I didn’t see a lot of shutdown corners in this draft, but Jenkins is certainly one of them. I will probably be more shocked if he doesn’t start. Impact-High
Chris Givens, WR-Givens is the burner that this Rams team needed. I don’t expect Givens to start, but when he’s on the field, he’s going to draw attention. Think Torrey Smith, Rams fans. It was his game against the Rams in week 3 that jump started his season. Givens might need more than 2 weeks to get going, but I hope the Rams give him a shot. He’ll keep safetys out of the box and command respect. I know that Givens fell a little in the draft, but he was easily one of the most dynamic players in the ACC last year. Impact-Medium
Greg Zuerlein, K-I have sat in the stands and walked the sidelines and watched Zuerlein make big kicks for years at Missouri Western. The Rams cut veteran Josh Brown the day after the draft and that’s the supreme vote of confidence. Place Kickers are undervalued, so handing the reigns to a rookie is a big deal. Zuerlein has a great leg and plays with a high level of confidence. Impact-High
Trumaine Johnson, DB-I projected Johnson coming out of Montana as a safety and from what I understand the Rams are looking at him the same way. Johnson is a tremendous athlete and a solid football player with good size for corner or safety and if he could make the change, would fill a huge area of need next to Quintin Mikell. Even if they don’t move him over, the worst Johnson will do is impact special teams and play some nickel/dime corner. Impact-Medium
Rokevious Watkins, OG-This one may be a bit of a reach, but don’t rule it out. The Rams offensive line, particularly the interior is pretty up in the air. Watkins is a big strong player who can batter in the run game. If the Rams want to establish the run game in order to help Bradford, Watkins can do that. He may not start the season in the starting lineup, but don’t be shocked if he ends up there at some point. Impact-Medium
Johnny Hekker, P-Hekker went undrafted but he now sees himself firmly in a fight for the starting job with veteran Tom Malone. Someone has to punt for the Rams this year, and it may as well be Hekker who can kick the ball a ton. Hekker’s impact will be based solely on whether or not he gets that starting gig. Impact-Medium/None
Looking over this list you can see a minimum of 6 players and a maximum of 9 rookies who could be big players for this Rams team. I have always favored injecting youth and athleticism into a team that lacks it. The Rams looked slow last year on both sides of the football. On offense they added speed with Pead and Givens and athleticism in Quick. On defense Brockers, Jenkins, and Johnson all make that team bigger, stronger, faster in a hurry. I always wait to evaluate draft picks until I can really see where they fit, and overall the impact of these rookies on this Rams team is high without a doubt.
Last Edited: 07/25/2012