Former Rams’ great, running back Marshall Faulk, walked up the the podium to announce the Rams’ 47th overall pick in round two. As Faulk looked down at the card, every Rams’ fan in the country was thinking about Torrey Smith, Leonard Hankerson, Mikel LeShoure, or even Marvin Austin and Stephen Paea.
But then he announced “Lance Kendricks”, and panic immediately followed.
Kendricks, a three year player at tight-end for the Wisconsin Badgers, recorded five touchdowns and 663 yards last season. He is a little too small to be utilized as a blocking tight-end (6’3″ 243 pounds), so he will likely be the newest addition to the Rams’ aerial attack.
Kendricks has the toughness and speed required to break through the secondary and get downfield, and that is certainly something the team struggled with in 2010. So it’s not that his skills are useless to the team, the reason for surprise is because many thought the Rams were looking decent at tight-end.
Mike Hoomanawanui, who was drafted in the 5th round in 2010, had a promising rookie season (143 yards and three touchdowns in eight games and three starts), but he struggled with injuries last year. And Daniel Fells is nothing to write home about, but he had some flashes as well.
Also, newly hired Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels is not exactly known for a tight-end driven offense. So given the offensive scheme, combined with the tight-ends currently on the team, many thought is was a blown pick that could’ve gone towards filling a more desperate team need (such as defensive tackle, wide receiver, offensive guard or defensive back).
However, in the past, General Manager Billy Devaney has been able to find gold in the 2nd round. James Laurinaitis was somewhat of a head-scratcher to some, as Rey Maualuga was still on the board and was widely considered a higher ranking player. Also, Rodger Saffold was drafted in the 2nd round last year, which was surprising given that the team just used the No.2 overall pick on Jason Smith the previous year.
But now, Laurinaitis is considered an absolute steal, and is the best middle-linebacker of the 2009 draft with Brian Urlacher potential. And Saffold played better than any rookie offensive-lineman last year (one could also make an argument for Maurice Pouncey), and he is shaping up to be a franchise left-tackle for the Rams.
Think of Kendricks as a Christmas present. The child opens the present and displays immediate disappointment as a first reaction since the toy is not what he asked for. The boy’s mother tells him the cheer up and to play with the toy for a while, just to give it a chance. Suddenly, the child has so much fun with the new toy that he can’t even remember what he initially asked for.
That is probably how the Kendricks pick will play out. A lot of fans are shocked and upset that their favorite player didn’t get the nod, but once the fans see Kendricks catching a downfield bomb from Sam Bradford they’ll forget all about what’s-his-name.