Scouting Report: James Laurinaitis vs the Jets
In the 09 Draft, the Rams got lucky with their second round pick # 36. Make that VERY lucky. They picked ex-Buckeye James Laurinaitis who now has a death grip on the MLB starting spot for the team. He pushed last year starter Chris Draft to the outside and Draft was pretty solid in 08.
By Bill Smith
Laurinaitis wasn't handed the job—he earned it with his performance in the OTAs and in camp so far. But live action against another color jersey even in the preseason separates the men from the boys.
By the way, Laurinaitis proved to be a man. In PS week 1, the Rams played him only on 1st and 2nd downs or 3rd and short situations. He sparkled against the run. He attacks the run downhill with extreme prejudice. Despite his attacking style, he is usually under control at the time of the hit and makes the tackle. He showed his ability to read the play and utilize his football instincts. Often he ends up the bottom of the pile regularly on runs. He still has the tendency to over run the play by a step or two but has the quickness to get back to the play and make contact. The over run is most noticeable on misdirection plays because the pros are a lot better at the counter play and sharp cut backs against the grain than the Big 10 runners were. When the play goes to the outside, he flows well and avoids the blockers diving at his feet.
Another thing that popped out was his level of effort. Even on pass plays down field or runs around the end, Laurinaitis was not only closing in on the opponent but taking the precise angle to be able to make the stop. That is very rare for rookie defenders because they often under estimate the speed of the pros. He has caught on quickly and has adjusted his angles to compensate for the difference.
His effort is also shown in getting back on his feet quickly when he does get knocked down and getting in on the play. He is inconsistent in shedding the O lineman blocker. Part of that comes from playing a little high thus letting the blocker get under him. But that is technique and is something he will learn quickly.
When the Jets tried to pass with him on the field he took maximum advantage of his 5 yard bump zone by twice “bumping” the TE off his feet.
OVERALL: Laurinaitis gets a solid A for his first game. He brings everything the Rams saw at OSU to the team's D. He will only get better and has a great future ahead of him.
That's what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for http://NFLDraftDog.com and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on http://www.eBooks-Library/Contemporary/Author.cfm?AuthorID=1003 and edits http://fryingpanpolitics.blog.com.