It was rumored this Spring, via (now deleted) tweets that new Rams HC Jeff Fisher introduced himself to St. Louis by gratuitously crop dusting a local bar establishment. We at RW have friends, who will not be named here, in the 314’s service industry. But the nastiness that Coach Mustache may or may not leave behind in the form of nitrogen and airborne colon bacteria pales in comparison to how disgusting things got for the Rams on draft weekend in 2012.
Jeff Fisher knows you need nastiness along the defensive line and in the defensive backfield to win division crowns in silent but deadly fashion. Opposing WRs will be walking into an absolute bar fight in the Rams’ defensive backfield against a maniac in Cortland Finnegan and rookie CBs Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson (who we will get to in a minute.) The Rams started out their draft along the defensive line, though, drafting the absolute perfect interior compliment to the dynamic duo of Chris Long and James Lauranitis in DT Michael Brockers.
I mean, look at that man. My God. The first thing you notice when standing next to Michael Brockers (outside of his pure immense presence) is the length of his arms. They look like 35” long octopus tentacles with big mitts on the end. He can play at both the 3 and the 5-technique, which makes him scheme-flexible within the multiple looks that Fisher likes to give. He was double teamed in college with a much higher frequency than Fletcher Cox. Brockers is a menace against the run, has strong hands like Casey Hampton, and plays extremely violently in short areas. He has one of the most powerful and explosive shoulder punch moves that I have seen, because he places the initial jolt of power to the opponent’s chest almost like a forklift technique, then attaches to the blocker on his play- side shoulder and drives. This is very disruptive to running lanes. Brockers’ reach makes him impossible to get proper positioning on in the run game, but he does not represent the threat as a disruptor in the passing game that Fletcher Cox or Dontari Poe have the potential to. The good news is, the Rams need exactly what Brockers brings. A long-armed rock who can get penetration, allowing Lauranitis to “spill” out and up, and giving Chris Long the option to play his conversion rush to the opposing offensive tackle’s weakness. Brockers’ initial explosion and space eating ability for gap responsibility were unrivaled in this draft, and he is a scary man.
Brian Quick is going to be an NFL wide receiver who makes his living much the same way Brandon Marshall does. It will be in yards-after-catch and in imposing himself physically in end-zone corner fades. Quick is more “slim” like A.J. Green, and even looks a little like him, but he lacks the same acceleration as an over the top burner. Quick has a natural big-play “flash” to him, though, and it’s hard to quantify. The best way I can say it is that he is often airborne. A stark difference, and terrific developmental #1 WR prospect to integrate in with the possession-type receivers the Rams have shown an affinity for drafting in recent history.
The Rams got the best cornerback in the 2012 NFL draft in the second round. Janoris Jenkins. Click here if you would like to hear how he told me he plans on defending NFL WRs such as A.J. Green and Julio Jones, having given them fits in college. I know Janoris, and love his mental acumen for the game. His gait, cuts, and movements in small areas are reminiscent of someone frantically fighting their way out of a burning Porta-Potty, yet in a brilliantly smooth and naturally technical manner. He is my pick for defensive rookie of the year.
I loved watching film on RB Isaiah Pead more than any prospect in this draft, period, and had him ranked as my #2 RB overall in my final rankings submission for Mel Kiper‘s Global Exchange at PlayTheDraft.com. Pead is an insanely instinctive runner. You hear analysts calling games on television who talk about a running back’s “vision” every time they make a nice run. The adjective is overused so much that I hate saying it; But he has crazy vision. He needs to in Cincy’s wide-open offense. He has great hands, and is a legitimate but not instinctual pass-blocker. He has a rare ability to casually flow laterally behind the line of scrimmage as a ball carrier, and cut the instant the seam develops. He is the epitome of a one-cut runner.
Fisher deployed yet another barking spider in a moment of third round thievery, drafting Montana CB Trumaine Johnson. Johnson, like many of the Rams’ bargain basement picks, was a bit of a character concern. I believe that Jenkins and Johnson may be the only two CBs to be drafted in the same year by the same team who were both tasered during college by law enforcement officials. Johnson is a big corner, very tall and extremely long, but only one word comes to your mind while watching film. Physical. And Nasty. So, two words. Plus, when I asked Mike Mayock who the most-underrated players were, period, in this draft, Trumaine Johnson was the first name he mentioned citing the off the field issues as a possible deterrent for some teams. Are we sensing a pattern here?
I feel like the Rams got yet another steal in Round four, selecting Wake Forest WR Chris Givens, who I had rated as a late-second round talent. Givens was an overly productive player at Wake Forest who displayed dazzling moves in space and made a living in yards-after-catch outside the hash marks. He was reportedly an enigmatic presence during his time at Wake Forest, and several scouts indicated he was “diva” type of player. Watching film, this reported attitude does seem to translate to his play on the field. There are certain routes you can tell he simply doesn’t like to run. He goes half speed over the middle and gets alligator arms when he hears footsteps. He is a dynamic weapon on the perimeter, though, and the production is hard to overlook with as valuable as playmaking slot receivers in this league have become. He is faster on the field than he is on the track and is deceptively powerful making cuts.
I have never been a Rams fan per se, but after this draft, I am fast-becoming one. I am glad to have a new reason for enjoying the NFC West afternoon games that can be known to make a grown man drift off to La-Z-Boy snooze land on occasion.