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Draft preview: Rams pick 6th
Posted: Saturday April 10, 1999 11:42 PM
The St. Louis Rams have done more in free agency this offseason to improve their offense than any other team in the league. With no winning seasons in the '90s, there was certainly room for the improvement.
By signing quarterback Trent Green and guard Adam Timmerman, the Rams opened their checkbooks with the hopes of opening up their offense. Mike Martz, who worked with Green as quarterbacks coach in Washington, was brought in to run the offense as well. Quarterback Tony Banks won't be back, and receiver Eddie Kennison, a former first-round pick, was traded to the Saints for a second-round pick after another disappointing season.
The Rams had an odd 1998 -- of their four wins, three came against playoff teams from the AFC East. Since they can't change divisions, St. Louis has done the next best thing for their record, and an exciting offense will help bring more people into the TWA Dome as well. The sixth pick in this year's draft should help fill the seats, too.
Best bet for No. 6
With any luck, the Rams will find on draft day what they couldn't find through all of last season: a running back they can count on.
They thought they had the answer in Greg Hill, who rushed for 240 yards in the first two weeks before a leg injury ended his season early. It took three months for another runner to unseat Hill as the team's leading rusher, and only barely then.
In the end, June Henley led the Rams with all of 313 rushing yards, and 259 of those came in December. He isn't the answer, and it looks like last year's second-round pick, Robert Holcombe, isn't either -- he averaged just 2.3 yards a carry, with the longest of his 98 runs checking in at just 12 yards.
Instead, Dick Vermeil and staff will find their starter with the No. 6 pick in either Texas' Ricky Williams or Miami's Edgerrin James. They've said they don't want to trade up and will be content with whichever one is available when they pick.
Williams, who scared teams by showing up 20 pounds overweight at the combine in February, seems to have dropped the extra weight and brought his stock back up enough to where some team will trade up to take him in the top five. That could be the Saints, or the Cardinals, or even the Dolphins by some accounts.
Regardless, it's safe to say James will be available with the sixth pick, and unless Vermeil is throwing up the mother of all smokescreens, the Rams will make him their pick. James rushed for more than 100 yards in seven of his last eight games in Miami, including an eye-opening 299-yard performance against UCLA in December that clinched his decision to turn pro.
This is the fifth straight year the Rams have found themselves with the sixth pick in the draft. With the addition of James and the healthy return of receiver Isaac Bruce and tight end Ernie Conwell, St. Louis has added enough offense that there's little chance they'll be picking that high again next year.
Click here if you have a question or comment about the upcoming NFL Draft. We'll answer a few questions and publish selected comments once a week between now and April 17.
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