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Free agency fears addressed? Recapping a flurry of moves

Are you still worried, Rams fans? Click to expand these results

We got a very nice amount of responses to our web poll before the Rams actually started getting active and addressing some of our free agent fears. Thanks to all who participated! The question now is, did the moves made address your fears? Visit our Facebook page to give us your answer, or chime in in the comments below.

Wide Receiver: Rams sign Mike Sims-Walker to a one-year deal, but have not yet signed Mark Clayton.

This is really a no-risk move with potential for great reward, but it also puts several Rams receivers on watch. St. Louis now has an overload of intriguing (if not elite) talent at the position, potentially creating an interesting trade bank for themselves if more than just the top six start impressing in camp.

Sims-Walker has size and questionable health in the knees, putting him in direct competition with Danario Alexander, and may have already beaten out Mark Clayton for the right to audition. Count me among the deeply surprised if Clayton is not signed, but I acknowledge the risk of trying to sign him long-term after only a four-game audition.

Running Back: (Crickets chirping)

The Rams might be playing a waiting game here, hoping that someone shakes out of the overstuffed backfields in New England, Philadelphia, or New Orleans. Or, they might just be continuing to turn a blind eye to the problem, as they’ve done systematically for the last three years.

The one new addition? Utah Ute Eddie Wide, who arrived as one of the 24 undrafted free agents. Says Shane P. Hallam and Matt Waldman of the Twitter scout community: “Meh.”

Texans linebacker Zac Diles
Zac Diles: another low-risk high-reward type of player?

Outside Linebacker: Rams sign Zac Diles (Texans)

As first glance, Diles is a low-impact move, a guy not well-rated in Pro Football Focus’ observational stats. He suffered especially in pass coverage, rating as the absolute worst at the position in 2010. I thought we already had that guy, and his name was ChrisDavidNa’il ChamberlainVoboraDiggs.

A conversation with Texans Tribute writer Mike Kerns adds an interesting light, though:

He was solid but really dropped off last year. Forgot how to tackle. The scheme & his inability to cover exposed him. Took the worst angles sometimes. Slow, too.

You also have to consider that the defensive coaching in Houston last year was an abomination. Ultimately, Low risk, high reward.

So we either have to hope that Diles naturally fits into Spagnuolo’s scheme (and to be honest, he does sound like a prototypical Spags OLB), or we have to hope that he suddenly becomes faster, smarter and better in the blue and gold.

Defensive Tackle: (tumbleweeds)

The Rams have only thinned their herd here, releasing Clifton Ryan (who played only the first half of the first game before fumbling away a potential touchdown and sustaining a concussion – injury to insult, as it were). Reportedly they did give chase to Seattle’s Brandon Mebane, but clearly their priorities lay in a different direction.  

Three UDFAs are worth watching: Arthur Thomas from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, John Henderson from Southern Mississippi, and Teryl White from N.C. Central.

Offensive Guard: Rams sign Harvey Dahl (but release Jacob Bell)

We talked about this move yesterday, but it remains curious. The Rams significantly strengthen their right flank, only to weaken their left. Is John Greco the answer, or as Mike Sando suggests, is Jacob Bell potentially coming back

Other: Rams sign veteran CB Al Harris

This move kind of snuck under the radar, but could potentially pay huge dividends in strengthening our nickel packages, a real source of weakness for the Rams last year. When the Rams had to defend 3 WRs or more, the Rams had to lean on Kevin Dockery (the less said there the better), Justin King (who played fitfully well), and Jerome Murphy (a promising rookie who was often overmatched). Having a player of Harris’ intelligence and stature, even if he is 36 years old, for these limited snaps would be a huge asset.

So, are your fears addressed? Or is there still work to do?

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