Point-counterpoint: Who’s No. 2?

first_imgAckerstein:Defense wins championships. Chris Long is the best defensive player in the draft.Thus, St. Louis should make Long the second pick in this weekend’s draft.Long, a defensive end from Virginia, registered 14 sacks his senior year and was a destructive force for almost his entire time as a Cavalier. Unlike LSU tackle Glen Dorsey, there aren’t any questions about Long’s health, and he should be able to play from day one wherever he goes.He’s the safest, most consistent pick on the board, and he has the potential to anchor the St. Louis defense for years to come.While Long’s on-the-field talent speaks for itself, it’s what he has going for him off the field that makes him the can’t-miss selection for the Rams.Long is the son of former Oakland Pro Bowler Howie Long, and with Howie still doing analysis for Fox on Sundays, the Rams aren’t just drafting a defender, but a friend in the media.If St. Louis repeats its terrible start from a year ago in 2008, by drafting Long they can ensure they’ll have the support of at least one media member.This ally is in addition to the thing that will endear Long to Rams fans the most — he already has a sandwich named after him.Apparently, a deli in his hometown of Charlottesville has given Long a sandwich bearing his name, and it should help him fill the role of St. Louis hero once held by another guy who shared a name with a sandwich, Mark McGwire.He may not be Big Mac yet, but it’s a start.He’s got talent, lineage and lunch. Long is St. Louis’ man.Mason:Chris Long is easily one of the top talents in this year’s draft, without question. But there is one name that turns more heads than any player going pro: Darren McFadden.But wait, don’t the Rams already have a 1000-yard rusher in Stephen Jackson?Yes, yes they do. But the things McFadden can do with the ball are simply too good for any team to pass up, and frankly it wouldn’t have been a bad move for the Dolphins to take him No. 1 overall.This situation happened exactly one year ago, when the Minnesota Vikings selected Adrian Peterson with the seventh overall selection. They already had Chester Taylor on their roster, a perfectly capable back who rushed for 1,216 yards in 2006.Looks like the move worked for the Vikes. AP ran for 1,341 yards in 14 games and set the single-season NFL rushing record with a 296-yard performance against San Diego. Meanwhile, Taylor rushed for 844 yards as the dangerous running back duo guided Minnesota to an 8-8 record, just missing out of the NFC playoffs.OK, enough about the Vikings. What I’m trying to say is the two-back system has been proven to work, especially when you’ve got such raw talent in Peterson or McFadden. Both were far and away the best rushers in their respective drafts, and both are destined for NFL stardom.The Rams finished 3-13, so it’s tough to say one player can change everything. But statistically speaking, St. Louis was much worse offensively than on the defensive side of the ball. Their 95.4 yards per game rushing the ball were 25th in the NFL. By giving up 115.3 per game on the ground and 225.8 a contest through the air, the Rams finished no worse than 21st in each category.A one-two punch of Jackson and McFadden? Scary.last_img

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