Most aware of the St Louis Rams’depth chart heading into the offseason knew that outside linebacker was arguably the team’s thinnest area. Not much has changed at this point with the Rams using no higher than a seventh round draft choice on the position since 2006. This past April’s draft was much of the same as the club took Hawaii’s Aaron Brown in the final round of selection, 209th overall.
The draft isn’t the only way to replenish a depleted talent pool at a particular position however as the Rams did add free agents Mario Haggan, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, and Rocky McIntosh to the mix. Those names are the most likely to be on the first string defense when the season gets started.
While the team is trying to overhaul a losing culture and really reboot the franchise as a whole, it is quite unusual for a team to have just one returning linebacker (James Laurinaitis) who has even started a game for the Rams before. And no, that’s not just last season, but ever.
McIntosh has to be considered the leader in the clubhouse to earn one starting gig for the 2012 season. He is the most seasoned of the three free agents that the club added and his career numbers of 324 tackles, 143 assists, three interceptions, eight sacks, and eight forced fumbles over six NFL seasons suggest that.
So even though the Rams are the only team since 2007 not to use a pick in rounds three through six of the draft on a linebacker, they have taken one in the seventh round five times during that same span. The free agent additions should be more than capable of holding down the fort for the upcoming year and if the pass rush is as potent as predicted, the linebacker level will be just fine in 2012.
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