Don’t let the title of my blog fool you. This is not about a boy band waiting for its first recording single to hit the pop charts, but rather the St. Louis Rams’ late draft picks and CFAs (college free agents) who will compete for a spot on the 53-man roster – and a few who just might make it. Building the back end of the roster is critical for a franchise like the Rams. While rich in tradition, the team is immersed in a major rebuilding process. They must work their way out of the dark ages when it comes to the win-loss column.
These new kids will soon find out where their lockers are and, in some cases, will meet their coach for the first time. They will be too excited to sleep Thursday night after their arrival in the Gateway City, and then afraid to oversleep or be late to the first team meeting held by coach Jeff Fisher. Matters such as what the St. Louis organization expects, both on and off the field, and locating the team’s meeting room are actually concerns as well. Other aspects to consider include the weight room, the layout of the practice plan and where to go when the whistle blows, not to mention a playbook loaded with new terminology (even though the X’s and O’s look the same). Those who pick up the organizational procedures, follow instructions and learn the playbook quickly will survive another step: advancing to training camp.
Rams’ 2012 draft picks by round:
Round Pick Position Player College
(1) 14 DT Michael Brockers LSU
(2) 33 WR Brian Quick Appalachian State
(2) 39 CB Janoris Jenkins North Alabama
(2) 50 RB Isaiah Pead Cincinnati
(3) 65 CB Trumaine Johnson Montana
(4) 96 WR Chris Givens Wake Forest
(5) 150 T Rokevious Watkins South Carolina
(6) 171 K Greg Zuerlein Missouri Western
(7) 209 LB Aaron Brown Hawaii
(7) 252 RB Daryl Richardson Abilene Christian
Talking to league sources and the personnel community, several teams were also battling for many CFAs during the post-draft signing period known as the free-agency period. In my 15 years in the NFL, this period welcomed rapid-fire phone calls. I would use my desk phone and cell at the same time, talking to agents and players; keep the phone lines tied up on the players you really covet; agree to a dollar figure; and fax off two-year split contracts. It is controlled chaos to frantically sign each free agent.
Below are the players other NFL teams worked to sign as top-priority CFAs. These players are clean medically, with good positional attributes, and all bring production from a statistical standpoint at the college level.
QB – Austin Davis, Southern Mississippi
RB – Nick Schwieger, Dartmouth
OC/OG – T. Bob Hebert, LSU
FBB – Todd Anderson, Michigan State
TEB – Cory Harkey, UCLA
TEB – DeAngelo Peterson, LSU
SS – Matt Daniels, Duke
OLB – Alex Hoffman-Ellis, Washington State
OLB – Sammy Brown, Houston
FS – Rodney McLeod, Virginia
FS – Quinton Pointer, UNLV
DE – Scott Smith, Texas Tech
PT – John Hekker, Oregon State
Other CFAs who received heavy interest:
CB – Jeremy Caldwell, Eastern Kentucky
DT – Matt Conrath, Virginia
ILB/OLB – Derrick Choice, Stephen F. Austin
ILB – Noah Keller, Ohio
DE – Jamaar Jarrett, Arizona State
OG – Michael Hay, Syracuse
WR/RS – Nicholas Johnson, Henderson State
RT – Joe Long, Wayne State
RB – Calvin Middleton, Jacksonville State
LS – Travis Tripuka, Massachusetts
Both Fisher and St. Louis general manager Les Snead, when hired, talked about the Rams’ strength of core players. They also stressed the need to fill many holes on the roster. With the eight draft picks, all of whom have a very good chance to make the 53-man roster, and several CFAs competing for backup spots, the new regime has taken the right step in the direction of building a championship foundation.
*The first glance at the class of 2012 starts Friday afternoon, when the Rams open rookie minicamp at the ContinuityX Training Center in Earth City. The session continues Sat., May 12. Practices are open to the media, but closed to the public.