Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
Who is the 6-foot-3-inch 200 pound Holton Hill?
Hill surprised the University of Texas by announcing he was foregoing his senior year and declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft. The surprise came to many, especially after violating team rules, that cost him to missed the three final games from a suspension. Hill would drop the second surprise to the University, as he expressed that he was not going to participate in the Texas Bowl, against the University of Missouri. In his career, he totaled four interceptions, returning three of those for touchdowns. A very tall a cornerback at 6’3” has good speed and a very aggressive defender.
Holton Hill Highlights
Has the ability to press receivers at the point and maintaining tight coverage in routes. A definite lockdown corner and a sure tackler on the perimeter and his confidence level is at a high. Unafraid to crash into the backfield to stop the run. Has the ability to apply hard hits on running backs. The ability to cover the team best receivers each week. Has very good arm length mixed with his toughness to come in fight off blocks in the box and attacking ball carriers. Ability to identify and jump the routes. Has strong hands and is crafty enough to strip or bat the ball away.
When he’s trailing a receiver and has his back to the quarterback, has issues finding the ball quickly. Tends to hesitate or second guess while the ball is thrown his direction. Will get caught flat footed with play-action passes. Can be over aggressive allowing to beat with double moves. Ball skills is average, may need to work on the speed of the game at the next level. Will need to perform well at the 2018 NFL Combine to climb the draft board.
Is he a fit for the Rams?
A proto NFL body, Hill is a good covering corner, with his ability to press receivers in a man coverage, will be a perfect fit for Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips defense. His size and height is a plus in a red zone defense, for offense that loves to pass in the end zone. Ability to he a hard hitter and tackler gives him opportunity to play on special teams. At 6-foot-three, can be converted as an safety to play centerfield with definite passing downs. Will be very interesting to see how long he will remain on the board at the 2018 NFL Draft.
Sean Davis, Pittsburg Steelers
The Los Angeles Rams offseason preparation for the 2018 NFL Combine and the 2018 NFL Draft will need to be given some thorough decision making. But most importantly, they’ll also need to address their internal issues of the 14 free agent players soon to hit the free market.
On March 14, 2018, at 4:00 pm EST, the 2017 players contract will have expired and players are free to sign with any other team. The Rams currently have five key unrestricted free agents they'll need to bring back under new contracts, and one veteran that's on the bubble, Sammy Watkins (receiver), LaMarcus Joyner (safety), John Sullivan (center), Nickell Robey-Coleman (defensive back), Jake McQuaide (long-snapper), and Trumaine Johnson (corner).
They will need a strategic plan in order to get numbers crunched to get these players resigned and now have another priority to get a new deal in place with defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Earlier in the week, Donald was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and his continued great play demands for a new extension.
This offseason, there is no need for the Rams to search for a number one wide-receiver, as they already have receiver Sammy Watkins. It is important that they focus on getting Watkins resigned, as they lacked a number one receiver for years. Last season, the Rams acquired Watkins through a trade from the Buffalo Bills, sending cornerback E.J. Gaines and their 2018 second round draft pick. So it will not make much sense for the Rams to give up such a high draft pick, and not resigning Watkins.
According to NFL player rankings, Watkins is the 254th ranked player in the league and ranked as the 24th overall receiver. Despite being the team's leader in touchdown receptions, Watkins wasn't very active in the offense, as rookie Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods had more targets. Just imagine that from Watkins lack of productivity, the Rams have bargaining leverage with Watkins future. Perhaps it was in Les Snead mind all along this season, to minimize Watkins play, to sandbag him one season with a tag, to get other players extended.
Watkins currently has a projected market value that's listed for three years $17.9 million, with a $5.9 annual salary, to say the least. Perhaps the Rams front office may have dodged a bullet by Watkins lack of productivity even though he did lead the team in touchdown receptions. If both sides can come to an agreement, the team can concentrate on getting the other unrestricted players resigned.
On another note, the Rams are expecting to release receiver Tavon Austin, who is due to earn $8 million this season, and if they release them he will have $5 million of a cap hit.
Unrestricted Free Agent Wide Receivers
If the Rams are able to get Watkins extended at his projected market value or within that scope of salary, they potentially can get him at a steal. The reasoning of it being a steal is because there are several other UFA receivers projected market values, that are listed higher than Watkins. Below, you are able to read the few that top the list of those free agent receivers.
Jarvis Landry, the talented receiver of the Miami Dolphins, played his college ball at LSU, played opposite of New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham. Landry is probably one of the hottest commodity at the receiver position, in which many teams would be excited to sign. Landry ranked the 46th overall player and ranked the seventh overall receiver, has a projected market value of five years $69 million, with a $13.8 million annual salary.
Marqise Lee, a teammate of Rams receiver Robert Woods, both in high school and at USC, career has taken an interesting spin. Lee’s career hasn’t been what many expected, as he has displayed some promise as a Jacksonville Jaguars, but injuries have hurt his play. Lee ranked the 182nd overall player in the league, and 22nd at the receiver, the projected market value is of four years $30 million and earning him about $7.5 million per year.
Allen Robinson, the former Penn State product, is entering his fifth season, currently is ranked the 49th overall player in the league and the seventh overall ranked receiver. The six-foot-three Robinson tore his ACL while catching his first reception in 2017, and was lost for the remainder of the season. Robinson’s put up great numbers in his second year, with 80 receptions for 1,400 yards, and 14 touchdowns. Robinson’s projected market value is for five years $68 million, with an annual salary of $13.6 million per year.
Paul Richardson, the speedy receiver from the University of Colorado, will enter his fourth season as a UFA with Seattle Seahawks. Interesting enough, Richardson were teammates with Marqise Lee and Robert Woods in high school, all to go on to have NFL careers. Richardson put up his best numbers in 2017, where he had 44 receptions for 703 yards and six touchdowns. According to his projected market value, it is estimated at four years $25 million with an annual salary of $6.3 million per year. Richardson is currently ranked as the 234th overall player and the 25th ranked receiver.
Watkins career began very promisingly his rookie season, however, it took a slight turn to the worst as he had to overcome injury issues that landed him on the injury reserved the 2016 season. It has been rumored that Watkins was healthy, but desperately wanted out of Buffalo. The Bills organization fulfilled his wishes by trading him to the Rams last season.
Overall, the Rams are optimistic of getting him signed to an extension, if not they still have the option of tagging Watkins for the 2018 year. It will be interesting to see how this plays out during the bargaining period, but the Rams should aggressively get Watkins signed to a new deal if those numbers hold up.
Free Agent Running Backs
It’s uncertain whether or not the Rams are resigning veteran running back Lance Dunbar, whom never seemed to shake injuries, as it was disappointing, to say the least. However, if head coach Sean McVay is seeking for another veteran running back, that has speed, is shifty, and can catch the ball out of the backfield and provide a spark, two players he can lure into a Rams uniforms.
First, we have Dion Lewis, the very talented running back from the University of Pitt, now plays for the New England Patriots, can provide plays in various ways. Not only will Lewis provide speed to the outside, the to but he’s also a threat out of the backfield as well as lining up as a receiver. Lewis originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, however, he was in the backfield but used as a kickoff returner. He was traded to the Cleveland Browns, broke his leg and was released. Indianapolis Colts picked him up but released him in 2014, the Patriots signed him and he will win a Super Bowl with the Colts in 2016. Lewis’s current projected market value is at three years, $15 million annual salary of $5 million.
Lastly, we have Jerick McKinnon the multi-talented running back of the Minnesota Vikings. McKinnon was the Vikings loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2017 NFC Championship game. McKinnon was quoted, "I want to be the guy," "I don't put in all the work in the offseason to come back and be in this role. I appreciate the role. It worked out well, but I want bigger and better things for myself." Perhaps Coach McVay can convince him that Los Angeles is the place for him, and can certainly use his versatility. His project value is slightly less than Lewis but is for one year longer. Projection is at four years $16 million per years, with an annual salary of four million per year.
Ed “Pi Double i” Henderson
Who is the 5-foot-7-205 pound, Martez Coleman?
Carter is the epitome of Tarik Cohen, and I would argue the fact that he’s just as good as Cohen, because of his strength and power. Earned the nickname, “Mr. Excitement”, by his fans, because of his exciting play-making skills. His senior year in high school, he was deemed ineligible to play football, and after he graduated, he went on to play basketball at Wylie College, in Texas. Wylie’s head coach left the college and accepted the same position at Mississippi Valley State. Broderick Fobbs, the head coach at Grambling State, advised Carter to walk on to Grambling. Initially, Carter played defensive back, until they saw how dangerous he was as a return specialist. His sophomore season, he was converted to running back and kick returner. As for myself, I was fortunate enough to have seen Carter play at the annual Bayou Classic, a rival game that’s played at the Mercedes Benz Dome in New Orleans, La. The annual game is played against Southern University, where both teams bands have a music battle to kick off the weekend. This game was featured with two exciting backs, current Rams practice squad player Leonard Tillery, who rushed 26 times for 234 yards, and Carter rushed 10 times for 118 yards with two touchdowns. Nothing was far better on watching Carter take a handoff up the middle and run it 66 yards for a touchdown.
Martez Carter Highlights
Carter has great explosiveness, with jump cuts, and the ability to accelerate out of his cuts. The shifty runner that will outrun the defender. Stout in size, with powerful lower center gravity. Difficult to tackle, and can get below pad level as the power through tacklers. Crushes defenders when he blocks, and good awareness of picking up the blitz. Have good hands, and act as a receiver. Has the speed to take any play the distance. Great return specialist. Carter has great patience, and his burst allows him to get out into open field. Carter has very good hands and is a natural receiver, ability to run routes of a passing tree. He also has the ability to go the distance with both the kickoff and punt returns.
Lacks size, not wise decision making, and struggles to be elusive in the open field. Tends to dance too much with stutter-steps when approaching the line of scrimmage. Will avoid viable running lanes to bounce the run outside. Ball security needs, had issues putting the ball on the ground.
Is he a fit for the Rams?
Ideally, the Rams are already deep with a crowded backfield of running backs on the team's depth chart. Currently, on the 53-man active roster, they have Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, Tavon Austin, Justin Davis, and Leonard Tillery to conclude. Tillery is currently on the team's practice squad. The 2017 NFL Draft included one other running back from the HBCU (Historically Black College University), drafted early was North Carolina A&T Tarik Cohen, who currently is on the Chicago Bears active roster. If Carter can open some eyes early in camp, he can potentially become a practice squad player if not pushing for a spot on special teams. He has a long hill to climb, but we have to remain optimistic if he can get the job done. If he does not perform well at the 2018 NFL Combine or his pro day, he will have a long wait on hearing his name called at the 2018 NFL Draft.
Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
Ed “Pi Double i” Henderson
Who is the 6-8-310 pound, Brandon Parker?
Parker has great physical attributes, leadership skills, great awareness, and smartness, as he earned his degree in electrical engineering. His father played left tackle in college, in which is probably why NFL scouts are salivating about him having the total package. Parker’s a very special specimen that played 656 total snaps and amazingly served 48 pancake blocks alone his senior season. Started 36 consecutive games, never surrendered a sack, and only been penalized only four times his entire career. Parker led an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the conference. North Carolina A&T went undefeated as the offense put up 5,122 yards in a span of 12 games, leading them on defeating Grambling St., in the Black College Football National Championship Game, known as the Celebrity Bowl. In 2016, he led the way for current Chicago Bear’s running back Tarik Cohen. Whenever Cohen ran off left tackle, Parker cleared the way and showed not only his great size and length but the ability to get to the second level as a run-blocker.
Brandon Parker Highlights
Parker has outstanding size. He’s long, tall, athletic, and very agile. Coached well, the very coach-able player has a great deal of experience with very long arms, measured with a 107½” reach. In pass protection, he slides his feet well to get the speed rushers. His quick feet allow him to pull or get up the field to the next level of defenders.
Parker might be a 2-3-year project in developing him into a starting left tackle, because of the level of competition he played at an FCS school. Parker never faced an NFL talent defensive end and is still a bit raw. As a run blocker, he tends to get unbalanced at times struggling to maintain his blocks. Needs to improve his run-blocking strength. Needs to get stronger as he lacks the strength to power a defender one-on-one from the running lanes. He benched press 225 pounds only 20 times, need to be around 28 reps. Could benefit by gaining 10-15 more pounds.
How does he fit for the Rams?
Again, Parker would be a project as an offensive lineman, as Aaron Kromer can prepare him to replace veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth. His height, long arms, and quick feet already give him a thumbs up at the left tackle position. Despite not playing against higher level teams, still impressive by never surrendering any sacks and been penalized only four times the entire collegiate career.