A look at the Rams heading into the 2011 NFL Draft; St. Louis has the 14th pick in the first round.


Record – 7-9, the most victories for the Rams in five seasons. The season as back and forth for St. Louis – lose 2, win 2, win 1, lose 1, down to the final weekend of the regular season when they lost to Seattle 16-6.

Finish – tied for first in the NFC West with San Francisco, but lost the tie-breaker for the division title and appearance in the playoffs.

Playoffs – the Rams have been out of the post-season since 2004. That was also the last time they won a game in the playoffs. At the start of the last decade, St. Louis made the playoffs off four of the first five seasons. But they have not had a winning record since 2003, when they went 12-4.


It was quite a turnaround in 2010 for the Rams, improving by six victories from their horrible 1-15 from the 2009 season. Those seven victories last year was more winning efforts than the previous three seasons combined (1-2-3 = 6).

QB Sam Bradford came off the top of the 2010 NFL Draft and started 16 games for the Rams, showing them that the decision to go with him has a chance to pay big dividends down the road. St. Louis didn’t rack up a lot of yardage or touchdowns on offense, but Bradford established his credentials.

There’s so much more work that the Rams have to do to elevate themselves to consistent contender status. That’s why the ’11 NFL Draft will be an important one for them. Only 10 of their 22 starting jobs belong to Rams draft choices; that’s a number that has to be higher.


Offense – averaged 303 yards a game, while scoring 27 offensive touchdowns, with 18 of those being TD passes. They were No. 26 among the league’s offenses and No. 25 in rushing offense. Veteran Steven Jackson led the team in rushing again, rolling for 1,241 yards on 330 carries and 6 TDs. Jackson had no help from anyone when it came to the run game. Only one other back had more than 100 rushing yards. WR Danny Amendola led the pass catchers (85-689-3) with WR Brandon Gibson the only other receiver over 50 catches (53-620-2). They got very little production out of the tight end position. Bradford threw 18 TDs against 15 INTs, while completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,512 yards. He finished with a 76.5 passer rating. The Rams pass protection was decent, with 34 sacks allowed on 624 pass plays, or one every 18 pass plays.

Defense – allowed an average of 336.8 yards per game, to finish No. 19 in yards allowed among NFL defenses. They gave up 29 touchdowns, 21 of them in the passing game. The Rams forced 26 turnovers and picked up 43 sacks. DE James Hall had 10.5 of those sacks and DE Chris Long had the best season of his career with 8.5 sacks. CB Bradley Fletcher had four of the 14 interceptions with S Oshiomogha Atogwe picking off three.

Special teams – K Josh Brown missed six of his 39 FG attempts, including 3 inside the 40-yard line. P Donne Jones had another good season, hitting his punts for an average of 45.5 yards and the Rams had a net average of 40 yards. Handling the returns was Amendola, who averaged 22.8 yards on kickoff returns and 11.3 yards on punt returns. Coverage was not good, as the Rams allowed both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns.


GM Billy Devaney and head coach Steve Spagnuolo are the guys who handle the draft with Devaney having the final say. But he and Spags seem to have worked well together and this is another one of those collaborative efforts that really dominates the draft rooms of the league.

Who has the draft room juice? It’s collaboration in the Loooo.


1. Wide receiver. Now that they have the QB who can throw the ball and do it accurately, Bradford needs more bodies to throw the ball to in the offense. Amendola is a great third or fourth receiver; he should not be the team leaders. The rest of the bodies on the roster from Donnie Avery, Danario Alexander, Mark Clayton and Brandon Gibson are coming off injuries

2. Outside linebacker. Four players started at weak side linebacker during the 2010 season, finishing up with Larry Grant. They need to shore up that spot to make themselves better with the pass rush and able to provide some pass coverage on the edge of the 4-3 front.

3. Running back. Jackson is in seventh season and he’s put a lot of carries on the board over his career. The Rams have no change of pace back or a No. 2 runner who can take a piece of the running game and make life easier for the Jackson. It’s the third off-season in a row where St. Louis has sought help for Jackson. Now is the time to make that happen.


An explanation for the Rams 6-42 record over three seasons (2007-09) is very simple – look at the club’s drafts in those three seasons and a few before then. St. Louis was simply awful when it came to adding players through the draft. The first rounders produced mediocre talent, guys like RBs Lawrence Phillips (1996) and Trung Candidate (2000), DL like Daimone Lewis (2001), Jimmy Kennedy (2003) and Adam Carriker (2007) and a defensive back Tye Hill (2006).

The emergence of defensive end Chris Long, the No. 2 overall pick in 2008, was a huge boost last year. The Rams found three solid players in 2009 in right tackle Jason Smith, linebacker James Laurinaitis and cornerback Bradley Fletcher.

Then last year, Sam Bradford and Rodger Saffold delivered a big one-two punch to a struggling NFL franchise. Despite success in recent years, a good draft in 2011 is priority No. 1. It must be, again only 10 of 22 starters are Rams draft choices.

2006 – Of the 10 players drafted, none are with the team anymore, and those that stayed for a few seasons produced next to nothing.

2007 – Only one player remains from this draft and he spent the season on the IR list. This was a disaster of a draft, topped by first-round bust DL Adam Carriker.

2008 – Long’s big performance last year helped change the direction of the report card on this draft. Five players are still around, including Long and OLB David Vobora (7th).

2009 – First three are in the starting lineup – RT Jason Smith (1st), MLB James Laurinaitis (2nd) and CB Bradley Fletcher (3rd).

2010 – Bradford and LT Rodger Saffold (2nd) moved right into the starting lineup. The rest of the group hasn’t produced much yet.


If Alabama WR Julio Jones should happen to still be there when the Rams go on the clock then they should dance a jig from Earth City to Laclede’s Landing. Bradford and Jones on that indoor track at the Jones Dome would be very impressive. If not, then I think Spags pushes for defense, like UCLA LB Akeem Ayers, or the host of defensive tackles and ends that are still on the board. PICK – Julio Jones.

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