ST. LOUIS --As has become custom in recent years, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. revisited the draft of six years ago Thursday afternoon.
Kiper has made it an annual tradition to wait until a draft class has six seasons of experience to get a full picture of what type of player each guy has become. He then goes about re-drafting the pick with the elusive and valuable 20/20 hindsight that teams only wish they could use when they make their picks.
As with any draft done before, during and after, quarterbacks rise to the top. Kiper's selections resemble that importance placed on signal callers by sending Matt Ryan, who originally went No. 3 to Atlanta, to Miami at No. 1. He also gives Joe Flacco the healthy bump from No. 18 to No. 2 and, you guessed it, the St. Louis Rams.
Here's what Kiper had to say in the Insider piece:
"Before you scream that Flacco isn't as decorated as a few players lower on this list, consider: (A) While the idea of "QB wins" has big holes, we can't call it a fluke that Flacco is 62-34 as a starter and has a Super Bowl ring to show for a stretch of exceptional play in the playoffs. (B) The occasional roller-coaster aspect to his play doesn't extend to his health, where he's started 96 of a possible 96 games. (C) If he's just a "pretty good" QB in today's game, those guys are worth a ton of money. Ask Jay Cutler. Flacco gets his criticism, but the body of work at the position he plays, and his future, put him here."
While I certainly understand Kiper's desire to give the Rams a quarterback with a Super Bowl pedigree, I can't say I agree with his assessment. The 2008 draft had its share of talented players but this was one of the extremely rare picks the Rams got right in the pre-Jeff Fisher/Les Snead era. Long leads all players taken in the 2008 draft with 50.5 sacks and has consistently ranked among league leaders in combined sacks, pressures and quarterback hits.
Long may not be the dominant pass rusher that ever reached 18 to 20 sacks but he's been a very good one for a team that rarely plays with a lead and hasn't afforded him many pass rushing opportunities. Beyond the pass rushing production, he's been one of the most durable and reliable players on the team, providing leadership and playing through injuries.
The Rams have plenty of picks over the past decade that they'd love to have a mulligan on but Long shouldn't be one of them.
A roundup of Thursday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we took an early look at how free agency might play out. ... Next, we took our first dive into the NFL Nation survey with a look at the league's most feared player as voted on by 320 players and how one Ram could appear on said list next year. ... Next, we offered some stats on quarterbacks taken No. 1 overall and the playoffs. ... Finally, we offered general manager Les Snead's early take on the No. 2 pick and the possibility of the Rams making another trade.
Here's Lions reporter Michael Rothstein's news story on the player chosen as most feared.
Columnist Ashley Fox writes that though the Lions had the league's two most feared players, they still didn't get the job done.
Four, count 'em four, Alabama players including free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix declared for the NFL draft Thursday.
Turf Show Times takes a look at the Rams' apparent decision to continue with coordinators Brian Schottenheimer and Tim Walton.