Chat with Nick Wagoner
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN NFL Nation St. Louis Rams reporter Nick Wagoner drops by to chat and answer all of your Rams questions.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Wagoner joined ESPN in 2013 after nine years of covering the Rams for StLouisRams.com. He also previously covered University of Missouri football.
Send your questions now and join Wagoner Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Nick Wagoner (12:59 PM)
Hello again Rams fans. Coming to you from snowy (again) St. Louis. It looks like you've got a lot on your minds so let's get right to it. Thanks for joining me.
John (St. Louis)
I am personally excited to see how Gregg Williams influences this defense. Abstract question, but which player do you think could take a big step forward? Janoris? McDonald?
Nick Wagoner (1:02 PM)
Well, for the Rams to have success they need both of them to take a big step forward. But to answer your question, I believe the Rams view McDonald as the guy who can fit that versatile safety role Williams likes. Lots of blitzes, coming up in the box and disguising coverages, etc. The Rams like McDonald's potential, I thought he was up and down when healthy (which is to be expected of a rookie). But if he anyone is going to get the most out of him, I expect it to be Williams.
William [via mobile]
I know its probably not in Coach Fischers blood to draft a lineman high in the rounds but you cant pass up on the tackle out of Auburn. To me he's alittle better than Matthews out of Texas A&M. What do you think about the two and how would you rate them? Secondly I think they need to get Anthony Barr from UCLA with the #13 pick because I think the linebacker from Buffalo may be gone. Your thoughts please and whose a better fit between the two. Do you think the rams will pursue Byrd the FA safety from the Buffalo Bills. Thanks
Nick Wagoner (1:05 PM)
I've said it before and will say it again, too much is made of Fisher's avoidance of drafting a lineman high. He's either been set at tackle or spent big money in free agency on tackles for most of his career. If things had broke a certain way in each of the past two drafts, the Rams would have taken a lineman in round 1. Anyway, to answer your question, I think Matthews vs. Robinson is the age old question of upside versus polish. It's unfair to say Matthews is a finished product but Robinson's upside is off the charts. But there's more of a downside that goes with that, too. Personally, it looks like Robinson is a good fit for who the Rams want to be offensively, particularly as an impact run blocker right away. I don't see them using a first-round pick on a linebacker who will play two thirds of the snaps but if they did, I like Mack much better than Barr.
Pierre (Ottawa, Ontario)
Why does it seem like the Rams are not considering drafting a QB (maybe Bridgewater) with the second overall pick? They might not get the chance to draft so high in the next few years.
Nick Wagoner (1:07 PM)
Because they believe in Bradford. Look, I understand the viewpoint that they should at least consider a QB but they think Sam can get the job done. I don't say never when it comes to much of anything but this is as much of a long shot as you can get. I do think if there were two quarterbacks in this draft the caliber of an Andrew Luck, the Rams would be looking at it harder. But it doesn't seem there is.
Marshall (St. Louis)
I have to ask... I try to stay a season ticket holder here but the lack of any communicatin from Stan K. Has made me think what is his plan?
Nick Wagoner (1:07 PM)
That's the $1 billion question, Marshall.
John (Yorba Linda)
Hi Nick,Great job covering the Rams! If you were to assume there is no Ram trade down, and Rams draft WR-OT or OT-WR in the 1st round, would you rather see something like Watkins/Lewan or Mathews/Evans? I know its early, but hey, this is just pre-combine speculation, and based on what you have seen so far. Based on you-tube video, I think Watkins looks tough to pass up (but I'm no expert). But, I also don't think Lewan is in Mathews/Richardson class. Do you get best OT, or best WR, and settle for 2nd tier w/ pick 13. I think they must go WR/OT in first round, but not sure which order. I read Desmond Howard wasn't too impressed with Watkins route running (and he's a lot better expert than me!).
Nick Wagoner (1:10 PM)
I haven't made any bones about my preference for Watkins. I think Watkins/Lewan would be pretty darn good if it played out that way. I look at it like this: I think Watkins is a notch above the rest of the receivers and Lewan might be just behind Matthews and Robinson. But then I add the Paul Boudreau factor and I can see him getting as much from Lewan as anybody would. I say all of that and also offer that I don't think you can pigeonhole yourself into drafting certain positions, either. If there's a player, like Clowney for example, you believe is better than everyone else by a fair margin, it's hard to pass on that.
Justin (Joplin, MO)
Hey Nick! Glad the chat is back! My question relates to Robinson and Matthews. I have read different sites that talk about Robinson being a great upside player, then I hear the same talk about Matthews being a plug player meaning you draft him plug him and you know what you are going to get. So if the Rams are sitting in the draft and they are debating between Robinson and Matthews wouldn't it make since to go with the player that you know what your going to get rather than upside? I would rather have Matthews than Robinson, although I'm starting to catch the Sammy Watkins bug. The more I hear of him, the more I like him. Thanks Nick!
Nick Wagoner (1:12 PM)
You make a valid point but let me throw a couple things at you. First, you have to account for the Paul Boudreau factor. I think you can trust him to get the most out of Robinson. Also, just because Robinson has more upside doesn't mean that he's a raw project. He should be an impact run blocker from day one. Also, if you look at the Rams recent draft history, they have sort of leaned toward "upside" guys. Brockers, Ogletree, Trumaine Johnson, for example.
Joe Willie (Hollywood)
IF the Rams move back to LA, shouldn't they go back their cooler threads from yesteryear as well (blue/yellow)?
Nick Wagoner (1:13 PM)
They might go back to that color regardless of where they play. (When the time comes that they can change uniforms, that is)
Yvan (Brussels (Belgium))
Hi Nick,Free agency is near and there is no news from Saffold, do you expect that he will resign with the Rams ? Wich other player do you expect to be resigned ? Rams had a little cap space too. Which player do you expect to be cut or restructured ?Thanks for your great job !
Nick Wagoner (1:15 PM)
As I've said before, I expect Saffold to go. It will depend on price but he will have interest from other teams. As for other Rams free agents, I suppose they could bring back some of their lower priced offensive linemen like Shelley Smith or Chris Williams but likely won't be in a hurry to do that until they see how some chips fall. Dunbar could be back if the price is reasonable and I could see Kellen Clemens returning as well. The three most likely cut or restructures are the same: Finnegan, Wells, Dahl.
Do you think Sammy Watkins would be a good fit on the Rams and can be successful in the NFL? over half of his catches came on screen passes, he's not going to be able to do that consistently against a team like Seattle
Nick Wagoner (1:16 PM)
Yes. I do. He did do a lot of damage on screens and short passes (though you could argue that makes him a perfect fit for the Rams offense) but he also has the ability to get deep and win jump balls. If he had played with a more accurate quarterback, I don't think this "knock" on him would exist.
Do you think that Rams will draft a QB in rounds 3 or later of the NFL Draft? At this time, the Rams do not have a good option on the roster if Sam does not pan out the way that Fisher and Snead believe that he will.
Nick Wagoner (1:17 PM)
Yes. There's no doubt that's a target for them.
Ricky (STL) [via mobile]
The only question i have this week is is this: Do you think the Rams should and will draft O-Lineman Robinson? My feeling is that they will because he is just the type of guy the Fischer/Snead duo like. He has more upside than Matthews, and with the great O-Lineman Coach they have, he could turn into a great player. Previous moves in the draft by Fischer like Mcgee and Quick seem to indicate Robinson is the player they are looking for at No. 2. Thoughts on this? Thanks Nick
Nick Wagoner (1:18 PM)
Not ready to say he's the guy the Rams will draft. Too early for that. But as I've written here, he does fit what the Rams do and I think he'll get strong consideration.
Dale (St. Louis)
If the rams want to trade down with #2 pick, would their opportunities be better if Houston took a QB and that left both Clowney and the second best QB? Or if Houston took Clowney and left all the QB's still on the board?
Nick Wagoner (1:24 PM)
Good question. I've given this some thought and it's hard to really come up with an answer. I think I'd lean toward the best scenario being Houston taking a QB and then you have teams that want the next best QB or Clowney interested. But on the other hand, all of these teams are going to value the QBs different without knowledge of how the other thinks. If that's the case and Houston were to take Clowney, you'd have to trade with the Rams to guarantee you get the QB you want. Ultimately, I think the best case scenario for the Rams would be Houston taking Bortles. I think there'd be a much more intense market for Manziel, Bridgewater and Clowney where Bortles just seems like he only appeals to a team or two at the top.
Carolina Ram (Charlotte)
Mr. WagonerI have heard you and others say the Bradford and Clemens were reluctant to throw the ball up and let the receiver go make a play. They didn't trust their receivers to do that. I have also heard you talk about the Rams need to draft Watkins. In your opinion is Watkins that receiver that can win that battle at least 50% of the time against the Seattle DBs or Peterson in Arizona? Any other receivers in the draft that can do that? If not, what distinguishes Watkins or the others in the draft from the receivers the Rams already have?
Nick Wagoner (1:26 PM)
I have said that about Bradford and I have also said that it's hard for them to trust receivers that haven't proved capable of doing it. Which is part of why I think a top receiver needs to be a priority. Yes, I think Watkins can consistently win jump balls. Can he do it against elite DBs? I don't know if we can answer that until we see him try but he seems to have the ability to do it. Mike Evans is certainly a jump ball winner if that's the flavor of receiver you want to add.
Do you think that Fisher will be more involved in the game day planning of the St. Louis Rams offense? The group seems to have a lot of talent but does not seem like they are making any strides.
Nick Wagoner (1:27 PM)
I think he has a hand in it now, a lot of how they approach offense is based on his philosophy. But he's not going to be calling plays or anything like that.
Chad Andrews (Indianapolis,In)
how many games do you think the rams are going to win this year
Nick Wagoner (1:30 PM)
Can we at least go through free agency and the draft first?
Do the Rams REALLY think that they are set at WR and will not be taking one as Mr. Snead alluded to recently, or is this a draft smokescreen?
Nick Wagoner (1:31 PM)
As I've said before, I don't necessarily buy that they would pass on a possible No. 1 WR if they believed he was that type of a difference maker. Question is whether they see one in this draft.
Would you say this is a boom or bust year for Fisher in the sense that if they have another 7-9, 8-8 season he and/or some of the staff could be on the hot seat
Nick Wagoner (1:32 PM)
I don't think another 7-9 or 8-8 season would get him fired but seat getting warmer? Yes. It's year 3. It's time for results.
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
Seems to me that the Ram have had an identity crisis at RB since Jackson left, does Coach Fischer draft an RB in this draft or is the team going to go after one in F/A
Nick Wagoner (1:34 PM)
Identity crisis? Zac Stacy nearly gaining 1,000 yards in 12 starts wasn't enough? I don't think it'd be a horrible idea to add another back in this draft if they could get a nice complementary piece to Stacy, who has had some issues with bumps and bruises. But it's not a pressing need like other spots.
Flip side of the "Boudreau will coach em up" argument is that perhaps they wait til the 2nd/3rd round to draft an upside OT. Watkins appears to be far and away the top WR. Tough to pass that up given STL's struggles there.
Nick Wagoner (1:35 PM)
A flip side that I certainly understand. But I also think of it like this: Boudreau can do great things with mid level and lesser talents. Imagine what he could do with an elite talent. Considering the physical dominance of the front sevens in the NFC West, I'm not sure coaching up mid level guys into solid if unspectacular starters is good enough in the division.
Walter Madison [via mobile]
With the addition of Williams in mind, what will we be looking for in a second safety? Are they interchangeable or are we looking for a ball hawking "free safety"?
Nick Wagoner (1:37 PM)
They need a safety who can run the alley and help out their corners, who will likely be playing more press coverage and need someone to have their back over the top more often.
In the mock drafts I have seen it seems the Rams are all over the place. Some have them trading, some taking Matthews, Watkins, Manziel, Robinson, etc... as of today - what is your best bet as to what they do with the #2 pick? Thanks
Nick Wagoner (1:39 PM)
I still think a trade down followed by an OT or Watkins is most likely at this early stage but if they have to stay at 2, I have to think Clowney is in play also.
Ryan, CA [via mobile]
I was wondering do you really see it's a possibility for the to cut cortland? Everyone else is reporting on it like it's a done deal
Nick Wagoner (1:40 PM)
Yes. It's very unlikely he returns on the same contract if he comes back.
Tito Massachusetts [via mobile]
Hey Nick, seeing in 2015 the Rams have a handful of free agents. Who do you see them resigning and when?
Nick Wagoner (1:40 PM)
Can we get through this year first?
Eric W (Baltimore)
A lot of Mock Drafts are predicting an OT to us early. My guess is the Rams trade (to #4 with Cleveland if they want Wakins, #6 if they want whoever is left between Watkins, Robinson, Matthews). My Question is if we do draft a tackle early, and Long is ready for the Opener, do you project the Rams will bench Barksdale or try to do a Saffold move and try him at OG? Do you think he has the skillset to play OG at an high level?
Nick Wagoner (1:42 PM)
Hard to answer that without knowing what other moves are made. I think they'd probably prefer to have Robinson working at tackle and Barksdale mentioned to me that he spent some time working on playing guard last offseason so I wonder if he'll do that again this year. Of course, if they did draft a Robinson, they could always go with the Jonathan Ogden plan and play him at guard before kicking him outside.
Do you think that the rams need a better O line?
Nick Wagoner (1:43 PM)
The O-line played pretty well last year but was beaten up in some divisional games. But it's not really even about that part of it so much as they have so many moving pieces. It's entirely possible they could need new starters at all three interior positions and a new starter at tackle to open this season. With so many changes that have to be made, might as well try to make upgrades, too.
Hi Nick, Rams fan from the UK. Just read that Louis Delmas has been released from the Lions. What do you think the chances are of us signing him in free agency to pair up with TJ McDonald at safety
Nick Wagoner (1:44 PM)
They looked at Delmas last year, even had him in for a visit. But there were some concerns about his knees and the Rams didn't offer much to get him to sign so he took a bigger deal to go back to Detroit. I could see them kicking the tires again but another year of wear and tear on his knees probably wouldn't allay concerns there.
Yvan (Brussels (Belgium))
This draft had some good DT. Should think about replacing Langford ?
Nick Wagoner (1:47 PM)
I still don't see why people want to replace Langford. He's played well and his salary isn't out of line for his play. I do think the Rams could use another DT for the rotation but I don't necessarily see the need to spend an early pick on one.
Steve A (Beaverton, OR)
Do you think Atlanta or Cleveland's 1st plus 2nd rounders would be enough to get up into the second pick? Unless the Rams are enamored with Clowney it seems like that would be a great move.
Nick Wagoner (1:48 PM)
I'd think they would consider it with Cleveland but that's not enough to move with Atlanta, in my opinion. I believe Les Snead wants to get another future No. 1 in any deal that moves off that 2 spot. It may not happen and not saying it'd be a deal breaker but I think that's the goal if they move down.
Do you think that Isaiah Pead and Brian Quick are still in the Rams long term plans?
Nick Wagoner (1:49 PM)
I think the hopes for Quick rate much higher than Pead's at this point.
Bert (St. Paul, MN)
Is Bennie Cunningham viewed to have lead back potential? What types have things have you heard about him?
Nick Wagoner (1:50 PM)
I know they like him and I think being another year removed from injury should help him. We'll learn a lot about how they view him from whether they add another back in the draft.
Don't the Rams HAVE to take a QB and take one that they think can be a starter (not some random 5-7th round guy)? Bradford has yet to really prove anything and is one play away from possibly having his NFL career be over.
Nick Wagoner (1:50 PM)
Again, I think they'll take one somewhere in the round 3 range. A guy who can become a solid backup but has the potential to be a long term starter with development/upside.
Rob (Niagara Falls, NY)
Nick, a quick comparison of the Rams DEF and the Seattle DEF leads me to believe that we're not far off from seriously competing. The glaring difference are the D-Backs. Seattle dominates, and we're not even close, really. Our D-Line sets the standard, and we're better than Seattle. The LB's go to Seattle, but not by much. We need depth, and an OLB. The D-Backs, however, go to Seattle by a landslide. Why am I making this comparison? If we tighten up our D-Backs, we compare well to Seattle across the board. In fact, I'll make the case that we don't need 3 stud D-Backs like Seattle's, we just need guys that can cover consistently because our pass rush is better with our front four. Also, a case can be made that our Offense with a healthy Bradford and a consistent Stacy, generally mirrors Seattle's. I honestly believe that if the Rams nail this draft, they make a serious move forward this year. Thoughts?
Nick Wagoner (1:52 PM)
The difference in secondary is absolutely the most glaring but that's a pretty big difference considering it's four, sometimes five, positions out of 11. The Rams have the potential to be a very good defense. Even if they aren't at Seattle's level, they can win with the defense they have and will have moving forward. To me, they need to find a way to score some more points against those elite D's around the division.
Williams' D requires fast LB's that can blitz and cover, and DB's that can blitz and press cover. He sends combinations of LB's and DB's in his blitzes. Do you think the hiring of DC Williams changes the approach in the draft?
Nick Wagoner (1:54 PM)
Asked Fisher about this yesterday and he gave the impression that Williams won't be working much on evaluating players and giving input in that regard. Remember, this defense isn't going to change much in terms of scheme or the types of players the Rams want. Now, Williams will probably deploy those players different than last year but many of the guys on the roster fit what Williams wants to do as it is.
I can't understand how the Rams will continue to give Bradford the ball again this year... His stats since he has been drafted are worse than Matt Schaub (who will now be a back-up for life)... what am I missing? Please don't say they see updside.... isn't 4 years enough of a measuring stick?
Nick Wagoner (1:55 PM)
Well, they like him. I won't say they see upside but you say four years and they've only been with him for one and a half. They've seen enough in that time to continue to believe in him.
ScottyG (St. Louis)
I know it's still way early, but do any of these top OL compare to top guys in the past, like Pace? Would it be better to take guys lower and coach them up if there isn't that much of a seperation between the OL in this draft?
Nick Wagoner (1:55 PM)
None seem to be the type of dominant, sure thing type like Pace but there are guys that project as good to very good starters long term. Many believe Robinson has upside to be an All Pro type.
ScottyG (St. Louis)
Any chance the Rams take two OL in the first round? I know, highly unlikely, but the 49ers did it a few years ago and it worked - would let our young skill players do better, I would think, without adding more youth to those positions.
Nick Wagoner (1:56 PM)
I'd be surprised.
Joel C (Phoenix) [via mobile]
Given the Rams may not be able to make the significant upgrades at wr, safety, and offensive line through the draft, what do you think of the opportunity of adding a free agent at one of those positions?
Nick Wagoner (1:57 PM)
I think cornerback is a position that could be addressed in free agency. Much will depend on Saffold's status. But secondary seems like a logical place to find some help depending on which players hit the market.
Would you say Dahl & Wells are guaranteed cuts or do you feel there are plenty of guys ahead of them? Thanks Nick.
Nick Wagoner (1:57 PM)
Nothing is guaranteed and there's still a slight possibility they could hang on to one of them but it's probably likely that both will go.
Brent (St. Louis)
Good Morrow, Nick! It would seem that no matter what, the Rams will be able to nab a potentially elite player on offense or defense. A true BPA situation due to the top-end talent in the draft this year. My question: let's say the Rams can choose between Clowney, Watkins or Robinson at #2. Based purely on the current state of the roster, which player helps them win more in 2014?
Nick Wagoner (2:00 PM)
Good question. I'd be inclined to think that Watkins could be that guy because he would fill such an important role but it can be difficult for rookie wideouts to adjust. However, if Watkins is truly one of those elite WR types like an AJ Green, then he should be able to get it done in year one (and by get it done I mean hit 1,000 yards with 7-10 TDs). I'd be most inclined to think Robinson would be the safest bet to help the most in 2014 just because his run blocking translates right away. I think Clowney is a difference maker from day one also but wouldn't choose him as the answer to this just because I wonder how much he'd be on the field.
Last year, I expected M. Brookers to tear it up. How did you see his level of play?
Nick Wagoner (2:02 PM)
He played well but maybe didn't take quite the jump that some expected. Still, he was the centerpiece of a run defense that finished ninth in the league and improved his sack total to 5.5. The next step for him is just finding consistency. I still think his upside is huge and I wouldn't be shocked if next year was even better for him.
Thoughts on B. McGee?
Nick Wagoner (2:02 PM)
He's fast and talented but still has a ways to go before he can be trusted to play a lot, in my opinion.
Next year, if the rams don't draft a WR in the first round, whom do you see being the leading ram receiver (no TE)? What makes you think this?
Nick Wagoner (2:03 PM)
I'm not sure. I think I'd lean toward Stedman Bailey, actually. I liked what I saw from him near the end of the season. He's the only WR on the roster who seemed to consistently get open outside the hashes and I expect him to get better as he goes along.
Ed (Queens Village)
Where will Rams be playing in 2015?
Nick Wagoner (2:04 PM)
My guess is St. Louis. I don't know that that guarantees anything long term but I expect the Rams to go year to year in St. Louis for awhile before anything long term is settled.
James (Dallas, TX)
If you were the GM of the Texans/Jags/Browns, would you take a QB in the first round, or pure BPA? You may think next year's QB class is better, but how likely would you be in a position to draft one of them in 2015?
Nick Wagoner (2:05 PM)
It'd be awfully hard to pass on Clowney for Houston and Jacksonville, especially. But quarterbacks get bumped up for a reason. I think the Texans, especially, need to get their quarterback. Some improvement there and they could be back in the playoff mix, just like Kansas City a year ago.
Nolan Stewart (Hillsboro) [via mobile]
What if we tries transitioning Robert Quinn to LB and drafted Clowney to replace him on the line? He is a little tall, but he clearly has the speed and alertness to play some coverage
Nick Wagoner (2:06 PM)
If they played a 3-4, you could definitely move Quinn to OLB. But why change what he just did at record setting levels last year?
With all the talk of the Rams potentially trading back in the draft, I was wondering what you thought of the possibility of the Rams trading up from the 13th pick to try to get two highly coveted players (i.e. any combination of Robinson/Matthews, Clowney, Watkins). If they think they have a shot to win big this year (which may not honestly be the case), shouldn't this be worth considering?
Nick Wagoner (2:07 PM)
Absolutely worth considering if they can pull it off. It'd be tough but you'd think if they moved down from 2 then they'd have some ammo to move back up from 13 to get what they want. It's certainly an intriguing idea.
It is my understanding the Kronke was on the NFL committee to study the Los Angeles market while he was a minority owner. Can you verify? Second, the way he negotiated the "first right of refusal" clause into his agreement to purchase the Rams, while he was still a minority owner was deft as well. As I recall, the Rosenblooms wanted to sell him the Rams for $900M, but since he had the first right of refusal clause and Shahid Khan bid was $750M, he was able to get it for $750M. He saved $150M. Given his shrewd financial acumen, is there any question as to what his intentions are?
Nick Wagoner (2:12 PM)
Kroenke was on the LA committee but isn't any longer. But there are plenty of questions about what his intentions are. As I've said many times, I don't presume to know what his plans are. I believe he's the only one that really knows what he wants to do. I know that doesn't provide any clarity to all those on both sides wondering about the future of the team but I'm not going to give a definitive opinion one way or the other when I don't know the answer.
Mark (Toronto, Canada)
Hey Nick,I am in the minority that thinks the Rams should stick with their receiving corps and develop the talent that they already have on the roster. My question is, how can you expect Brian Quick to develop if he is only on the field half the time and is rarely targeted (only 36 targets last season)? I know he needs work but how is he to get better if they don't give him a chance to succeed? Thanks, and keep up the good work Nick.
Nick Wagoner (2:14 PM)
It's a fair point. I think he'll get more work as we go along but you also have to take advantage of the chances you do get. It's how you earn trust. Take the Carolina game for example. Quick had some great flashes in that game but he also dropped what should have been a touchdown. Make those plays consistently, you get more plays. This is a big year for him. That said, if you have a chance to get a big time guy you believe can help, is it worth it to pass on that guy on the shoulders of hope?
Chris (North Dakota)
What do you rank Sam Bradford without injury out of all 32 starters?
Nick Wagoner (2:14 PM)
I don't think you can do that. Injuries are a piece of the puzzle.
Scott (Los Angeles)
Hi Nick, great to be able to ask you questions again about our favorite team. Alec Ogletree certainly impressed us as a rookie, sure he had his ups and downs but overall he looks to have unlimited potential. What would you like to see from him in his second year as he matures as a football player. thanks for answering all our questions
Nick Wagoner (2:15 PM)
He really improved a lot as the year went on, especially in terms of reading keys and making plays on instinct. But he still has to get better at getting off blocks. Improved hand usage would be a good place to start.
Ray Ray (Long Island)
Nick,Grew up as a longtime LA Ram fan. Surprised by so many who "wonder" why Kroenke could move the team to LA. It's business pure and simple and about exposure. The Rams are always an afterthought and other than controversy are rarely spoken about. Moving to LA makes them relevant within the league talk and within the nation's second largest TV market. I would not be shocked if the Rams draft Manziel with the idea of gaining more exposure as well.
Nick Wagoner (2:19 PM)
The Rams aren't going to draft a player to get more media attention.
Bill Berry (Louisville )
Supposedly Rams checking out Watkins real close do U think that is a smokescreen or for real?
Nick Wagoner (2:20 PM)
They check out most every player close, that's part of the process. It's not a smokescreen, it's what teams do. It'd be a disservice to your team not to investigate all the top players.
Fans and media people alike continually push a narrative about the Rams "needing to find out if Sam Bradford is their guy." Bradford has been a solid, at least average starter his whole career, and was well on his way to a very good season this year, all while working with one of the league's worst skill position groups. Considering that at least a quarter of the league are an absolute train wreck at the QB position, shouldn't fans who want Bradford gone be careful what they wish for? He may not be Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers, but he's certainly not Brandon Weeden or Geno Smith either.
Nick Wagoner (2:22 PM)
It's definitely true, Nic. In some sense, an average quarterback is much better than anything else because at least you know what you're getting. The unknown is a scary proposition in this league, especially at that position. Teams are willing to pay for the known commodity. That said, I still think it's imperative for the Rams to really consider everything before signing him to an extension. Most of all, he needs to stay healthy. Otherwise, it's a question that answers itself.
Stefan (San Jose, CA) [via mobile]
Hey Nick! Say the Rams draft Sammy Watkins... Consistently, would that put Watkins, Austin, and Bailey on the field? Is Givens, Pettis or even Quick above any of these guys? As much as I'd love the Watkins/Austin/Bailey trio, I Atleast want Givens to still be in the mix for his speed and big play ability. Any thoughts?
Nick Wagoner (2:29 PM)
I think that trio would be the most likely combination but I'd expect to see Givens plenty as well. The nice thing that group gives you is versatility. If you need a big play, Givens is a nice option. If you're in the red zone, Quick and Pettis can be on the field. Mixing and matching would be easy to do with those different genres and it would make everyone else better if you had a true No. 1 type like Watkins who can do a little of everything (if indeed he is that type of guy).
If the Rams use #13 on the secondary, do you think we'd be better off acquiring another CB or a FS?
Nick Wagoner (2:30 PM)
From what I've seen, a corner would be a better choice there (assuming you haven't added one in free agency). I just don't see a safety worth the 13th pick at this point.
OzyRamsFan (Cairns, Australia)
Good Day Nick, I see the Rams releasing Finnegan, Wells and Dahl, giving a little room to move in FA, who might they sign beside Saffold
Nick Wagoner (2:31 PM)
If the Rams are going to make a splashy signing, I believe it would probably only be one guy and if it was one guy, I think CB Alterraun Verner is a logical guy, assuming he hits the market. But I'm not convinced he'll be a fit in terms of money. He'll be heavily sought.
David (Webster Groves)
What is your opinion on Tim Barnes and Barret Jones? I'm curious about the potential for Barnes to start at center and Jones to start at LG if the team decides to cut Wells, but don't know much about their pro potential.
Nick Wagoner (2:31 PM)
I don't think I'd be comfortable with them both starting. One of them, maybe, but not both.
David (St. Louis)
Hey Nick,I'm skeptical about the first round WR options. Could a case be made that drafting Matthews or Robinson at 2 and Lewan at 13 would be the best for the team? It would seem to solidify the O-line which in my opinion is one of the weakest units on the team.
Nick Wagoner (2:33 PM)
I'm not sure how that makes much sense. Even if you used someone like Robinson at LG for a year, you have J. Long and Barksdale still. That gives you four tackles and two would have to move inside.
Mantis Tobaggon (LA)
Is OT really that big of a need? Jake Long is injured, but should only miss a few games and is still under contract 3 more season. Barksdale was very good at RT last year and you don't really want to draft an RT in the top 5 anyway. Wouldn't you say the interior of the line is a much bigger concern?
Nick Wagoner (2:34 PM)
On the whole, the interior is definitely the bigger need. But OT is a very serious need. You're not drafting for 2014 alone. Barksdale was solid, I'd stop short of very good, in 2014 but you could still upgrade at his spot. And Long is coming off a serious injury. Adding a tackle who can help this year and step in long term makes a lot of sense.
Grant (Los Angeles, CA)
Mel Kiper said he doesn't think it's likely, but do you think there's a reasonable chance the Rams draft Sammy Watkins at #2 (or 4-6 if they trade down)?
Nick Wagoner (2:35 PM)
Reasonable? Sure. I think it's reasonable. But let's get through the combine and such before we start trying to peg what's going to happen. Right now is a good time to discuss possibilities.
Fred (St. Louis)
Hello Nick. Do you think that the Rams would consider Jeremy Maclin if he's healthy? He's not necessarily a #1 receiver, but it does not seem like they are concerned about getting one anyway.
Nick Wagoner (2:36 PM)
I just don't see them adding any receiver that they aren't sure is a guaranteed upgrade over what they already have. They don't want to give valuable reps that could be going to a developing young guy to a veteran who might be an upgrade.
esa1220 (Topeka, KS)
NW - Is Stacy the answer at RB, seems like he may not hold up under #1 RB workload? Thought the Rams should have picked Vaccarro and Lacy last year.
Nick Wagoner (2:39 PM)
So you wanted the Rams to trade up for Vaccaro? I think Stacy is a big part of the solution at RB. Yes, the little injuries along the way are a concern but the Rams can find ways to help him out.
Do you think number two overall is too high to take Watkins. If you can't trade out of it, do you go OL, DE, or WR?
Nick Wagoner (2:39 PM)
I don't think it will be too high when this process is all said and done.
How do you expect Bradford to come back from his ACL injury? Players seem to struggle coming back from those types of injuries respectably so. He's just such a big part of this team that we can't afford a RGIII type comeback
Nick Wagoner (2:40 PM)
Well, fortunately for Bradford and the Rams, his playing style is not like RG3's. His knee needs to be stable enough to let him move around a bit, plant and make throws. But he's not a runner like RG3. I expect him to be fine health wise when the season starts.
I have actually heard you say you think we should draft aqb in round 3 this year...but if we get the raiders number 1 next year in a trade (which you eluded could be used to pick a top qb is bradford has a bad year ) would you still use a 3rd this year on qb knowing we had that top pick next year if we needed one?
Nick Wagoner (2:43 PM)
Yes. You have to operate in the here and now. And I'm not saying they should draft a QB in the third round. I just think that's about the time they start considering one (though round 2 could be a possibility if they like the player enough).
Biggest position of need this offseason?
Nick Wagoner (2:43 PM)
The single most important need to me, and I've been writing this for awhile, is a top receiver. But the offensive line is the area that needs the most attention. Two different things but that's how I see it.
if by some chance we did draft clowny who do you think would be better suited to move inside on passing downs him or long?
Nick Wagoner (2:45 PM)
Do you think Chris Givens can get back to the level he was at his rookie season or better?
Nick Wagoner (2:47 PM)
I'll be interested to see how he bounces back this year. I thought he was perhaps the biggest disappointment this year. He looked really good in training camp and seemed poised for a big year. He never got on track, though I realize part of it was not having Bradford around. There's no need to write him off yet. He can still contribute to this team in a big way but he needs to come back better and more well rounded.
Do you know around the time tickets for the Draft go on sale and about how much they are, I am considering going to it this year.
Nick Wagoner (2:49 PM)
The draft is free, I believe. And you have to get in line well in advance for tickets. I covered it a few years back and saw lines forming the night before with people basically camping out. Here's some information: http://www.radiocity.com/content/dam/sites/radiocity/Draft Fan Guidelines 2013 (2).pdf
Michael (Eugene, OR)
If they don't get hit with the franchise tag, do you think the Rams would consider bidding on Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward as top-tier safeties to help our secondary?
Nick Wagoner (2:49 PM)
I think it's possible though I'm not convinced the Rams want to spend big money on the safety position.
Michael (Eugene, OR)
Thanks for the chat Nick! Somewhat of an elementary question, but since we have the #2 pick from a trade 2 years ago, couldn't it be somewhat considered a luxury pick, thereby allowing us the freedom to pick best player available rather than forcing ourselves into the "OL or WR" box? I love our line, but Quinn is gonna get a huge payday soon, and Long is getting paid a ton and is almost at 30 years old, so I think getting Clowney and locking him up at a cheap price for the next few years would be a great choice. I would just hate to pass him by and see him dominate the league for the next 10 years. Thoughts?
Nick Wagoner (2:51 PM)
As I've said, if Clowney is the best guy and it's clear cut, he should be the pick. That's what you're supposed to do in a draft. With a few exceptions, you take the best guy on your board. If it's close or tied, you can err toward the need. But if you draft solely based on need, you can get into trouble.
I don't get the Langford bashing. I would like to add some depth at DT. Thoughts on Will Sutton providing he gets backin shape? I also like Carraun Reid in the 4-6 round range. Isn't the huge body like Langford and Brockers, but has some quickness @ 295lbs and showed well at the Senior bowl.
Nick Wagoner (2:52 PM)
I could see someone like Reid or Sutton being a fit in later rounds. It's a good draft for DT's which means the Rams could get a useful piece later on if they so choose.
Chris (Los Angeles)
What do you think of my theory that Williams was always going to join Fisher in STL. I feel like once Bounty Gate happened, they needed to distance themselves from one another and agreed to revisit down the line?
Nick Wagoner (2:54 PM)
That seems to be the case. As Fisher said, Williams was his first choice all along. They needed time to heal some wounds and mend some fences.
Nick Wagoner (2:56 PM)
I suppose I've allowed those of you procrastinating from getting your significant other a card or flowers or chocolates or whatever to put it off long enough. Now get out there and keep yourself out of trouble. Thanks for joining me. See you all next week.