Who should the Rams pick?

The St Louis Rams have a lot of holes to fill, but most expect them to pick either a quarterback or defensive tackle.

St Louis Rams Cheerleader

St Louis Rams Cheerleader

Everyone seems to have an opinion on who the Rams should pick and this blogger is no different.

At quarterback Sam Bradford seems like the most likely pick. He is the most NFL-ready of the QBs and that’s important for the Rams who can’t afford to wait a few years for a quarterback to develop.

At defensive end there are two candidates, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. Suh is the consensus number one pick, but either would help. McCoy might be the right choice depending on what kind of defense they want to have in the coming seasons.

The final option is to trade down for multiple lower picks. The top draft pick should get you someone who can dominate at his position. If they don’t think any of the above can dominate, then they should trade down and pick up several good players to fill up their roster with solid players.

The St Louis Rams certainly have a lot of needs. They have the worst odds to win the Super Bowl at +20000 and if they could score an extra serviceable prospect it could help them compete much sooner.

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NFL Slowly Acting on Headshots

NFL representative answers questions on protecting players from head injuries.

NFL representative answers questions on protecting players from head injuries.

The NFL is slowly beginning to move out of their Neanderthal stance on head injuries and implementing positive policies that will help players.

The move to take a more progressive stance towards concussions started to gain momentum after the publication of a University of Michigan completed a study that found a higher then normal rate of Alzheimer’s disease in retired players.

While there is still plenty of debate going on within the NFL over helmet design, rule changes and forcing players with head injuries to stay off the pitch, the NFL’s latest move is to give all players at the NFL scouting combine a brain activity exam that will serve as a baseline when evaluating any future injury.

Currently each team administers the these tests individually, so they may not know what the baseline was before the player joined the team which could lead to a mis-diagnosis and they’ll also be able to get a better idea of the cumulative effect of all of the smaller impacts over a players career.


Buyers Market for Veteran Backs

It’s a buyers market for aging 30-something running backs with Jamal Lewis, LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook all on the market.

It’s pretty common knowledge that running backs tend to wear down when they hit 30 and all three have had underwhelming years, but all three could contribute given the right situation.

They may not be every-down backs any more, but I could see either one of them catching out of the back-field with the occasional run in the right sort of offensive system.

The New England Patriots would be a good candidate to pick up one of these guys to support their offense.

The Patriots are +1100 in Super Bowl odds and because of free agency rules, they’ll need smart signings and draft picks to improve.

The expected axe finally fell on LaDainian Tomlinson as the San Diego Chargers gave him his walking papers today after nine seasons.

The LT post-mortems all point out how he struggled last season getting just and average of 3.3 yards a carry and disappeared in the San Diego Chargers playoff loss to the Jets, but that’s a load of something that begins with c and rhymes with rap.

LT will miss the Chargers Cheerleaders

LT will miss the Chargers Cheerleaders

The Chargers Darren Sproles didn’t do much better picking up 3.7 yards per carry. The problem wasn’t Tomlinson, but rather the offensive line who couldn’t open enough holes for LT. Or at least it isn’t just LT’s fault.

Then pointing out his poor performance against the Jets is disingenuous. The Jets have the best defense in the NFL. Offenses are supposed to struggle against them. And again, the offensive line could have done a lot more to help San Diego’s running backs.

LT isn’t an elite running back anymore, but he can still be a contributor he just needs to find the right situation.

What kind of situation is that?

While I’m sure his veteran leadership will be appreciated on a rebuilding team, he needs to find himself a contender with an offensive line that can open holes with some consistency and an every-down running back to take most of the punishment. Preferably a big bruising running back, so they can switch LT in to change the pace.

Even though they’ve moved on, the Chargers still have some work to do if they want to close to the top echelon teams. They need to find a kicker who can kick in the playoffs too and their offensive line could use a little help. They currently sit at +975 in 2011 Super Bowl odds.

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is the consensus number one draft pick, but another tackle Gerald McCoy could steal his thunder and be number one. The St Louis Rams hold the number one pick and will get their pick of the two.

I totally can't think of anything clever and sexist to say about this picture involving the word Rams.

I totally can't think of anything clever and sexist to say about this picture involving the word Rams.

Suh is a more complete player. He can stop the pass. He can stop the run. He collapses pockets and beats double teams.

But McCoy can completely disrupt an opponent’s backfield and it makes sense for teams that run the right system to pick him ahead of Suh.

The St Louis Rams have the number one pick this year and a pass rusher like McCoy would suddenly make the Rams solid secondary look a whole lot better.

With a little more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, you’ll start to see some more interceptions from a Rams secondary that isn’t athletic enough to create those opportunities on its own.

Another concern about Suh is his injury history. He’s already had a couple of knee surgeries. Life in the trenches is only going to put more stress on those knees. Suh will definitely give whoever picks him a few good years, but McCoy is going to be productive for much longer.

As much as I like Suh and think he’s a more versatile player, McCoy fills a need for the Rams better than Suh.

Whoever they pick, the St Louis Rams are going to need more help. No team has longer odds to win the Super Bowl than St Louis who are at +20000.

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Eagles Can’t Lose With QB Moves

Everyone is talking about Donovan McNabb and how Philadelphia Eagles fans seem to have had enough of him.

Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders

Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders

Personally, I think they could win the Super Bowl with McNabb if they made some moves to shore-up the defense. But Philly fans see a lot more of him and if they’ve had enough, then who am I to argue.

Whether they keep McNabb or trade him, the Eagles are in an excellent position to make some quarterback moves and get help on defense because they have between two and three starter-level quarterbacks.

McNabb is of course a starter. Kevin Kolb has shown promise and with a few more reps, he could be a starter. And Michael Vick is a starter and could turn in to a really good one if he plays in a system that takes advantage of his athleticism.

They are in an excellent position to make a trade that will upgrade their defense because there aren’t a lot of candidates for starting quarterback jobs to be had through trade or free agency, but a lot of positions to fill.

The Cardinals have lost Kurt Warner and the Vikings could lose Brett Favre.

The Browns, Bills and Rams all would benefit from picking up any one of the Eagles three quarterbacks.

McNabb would be a good option for any team that either has a young quarterback who needs time, or plans on drafting one this year.

Vick is a bit of a gamble, but he could be a franchise quarterback for a number of years and would be a good option for a team that’s giving up on their QB prospects and has the pieces to challenge.

And Kolb could turn in to a solid NFL QB for a long time to come.

Whoever goes and whoever stays, Eagles fans can be sure their stable of quarterbacks will net them some quality players or prospects in return as teams get desperate to fill the most important position in football.

The Eagles’ odds to win the Super Bowl are currently at +1500. When they start dealing their quarterbacks, those will almost certainly improve.

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Antonio Pierce Released

Antonio Pierce Tackling

Antonio Pierce Tackling

Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, the heart and soul defender, has been released by the New York Giants.

The 32-year-old was out the final month of the season with a bulging disk and the Giants were probably expecting that between his age and injuries his play would start to fall off.

While fans are speculating that marquee free agent Karlos Dansby will be the replacement, it is also possible that the Giants think that Jonathan Goff is ready to step up and play full time. The Giants could then spend Pierce’s money elsewhere.

Pierce feels good about his prospects saying that he is “doing great, feeling great. Looking forward to endless possibilities.” No doubt some team will step up and offer him a contract because he is still a major contributor.

Even without Antonio Pierce, the Giants odds to win the Super Bowl remain steady at +2000.

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The New Orleans Saints joined their fans in celebrating their Super Bowl win yesterday parading through the city on carnival floats.

New ORLEANS SAINTS Super Bowl Parade

New ORLEANS SAINTS Super Bowl Parade

Head Coach Sean Payton showed off the Lombardi Trophy while players signed autographs, gave speeches and even sang.

Throngs of people pressed up against the floats causing the parade to stop at one point when one of the floats started rocking dangerously.

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Great Super Bowl, Will a Lockout Follow?

NFL Locked Out

NFL Locked Out

Super Bowl 44 was one of the high points for the NFL with a great game, some great background stories and a record television audience. But the NFL owners appear to be ready to risk all of the good will generated by a great Super Bowl on a lockout that could jeopardize the Saints championship defense.

Sportsbooks already have Super Bowl 45 odds out, but maybe they should have Super Bowl canceled as a final option.

Commissioner Roger Goodell is saying all of the right things and staying positive, but that’s his job. The outcome of pro-sports labor wars are largely determined by public relations of the league and the players association. When public opinion turns against one or the other, a settlement is usually quick to follow.

Goodell has to look like he thinks a deal is possible because the owners will be handicapped by public opinion if he doesn’t.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the owners. They claim to be losing millions, but they won’t open their books to the players association to prove it.

The publicly run Green Bay Packers are required by law to open their books and they seem to be doing quite alright. They are one of the smallest market teams in the league and ran a 20-million operating profit last year.

The 2010 season will likely go ahead without a salary cap. But that’s not going to drive salaries up much.

Teams know that there will be a salary cap back in place when they resume play and can’t afford to have big-money commitments on the books from a single cap-free season.

The owners are claiming that they’ve seen a 40 percent decline in profits which if it’s true, then it needs to be addressed, but they’re not willing to back up their claims.

If they start the season, I doubt they will lock out the players before the Super Bowl, but the following season is the one that is in the greatest danger of being locked out.

I expect the odds of Super Bowl 45 being canceled should be somewhat worse than the odds of the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl, but better than the Green Bay Packers.

So I’ll take Super Bowl Canceled at +1550.

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Hartley Proves His Worth

Before the Super Bowl I was saying that the Colts had the kicking advantage, but that Hartley looked like he could become a great kicker with another great playoff performance.

He already had a 40 yard field goal in overtime versus the Minnesota Vikings.

We have seen so many times in these playoffs that there are plenty of good kickers who can play well all season but fail utterly under pressure. But there are only an elite few who can maintain that consistency through the playoffs.

The Colts have two kickers like that, Matt Stover and Adam Vinatieri.

And now the Saints have one in Garrett Hartley.

Hartley was a perfect 3/3 on field goals hitting from 44, 46 and 47 yards.

He won’t get the credit and attention that Drew Brees and Tracy Porter get. But put Hartley on another team, say the San Diego Chargers, and it’s a completely different post-season.

There aren’t many kickers who can deal with the NFL playoffs pressure, but the Saints have one who can in Hartley.

Despite winning the Super Bowl, the Saints are just +900 in 2011 Super Bowl odds while the Colts are favored at +700.

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