This week marks the start of the Christmas season for NFL fans. With the NFL combine under way in Indianapolis the NFL fan will go into full on dream mode like a 10-year old dreaming of a new bike. NFL fans around the country dream of new “toys” for their favorite teams and conjure up the moves their team should make as they play General Manger whether it is through the draft, free agency or even the rare NFL trade, sorry Kansas City Chiefs fans the “lets trade our #1 pick this year for three future first-rounders is NOT happening.” These next two months will no doubt bring about numerous debates and thoughts that fans hope will bring their bottom feeder teams to be the next Super Bowl champion.
With that let’s talk about my team…the St. Louis Rams. The Rams made great strides last year and a large part of that was due to the immediate return on their 2012 draft. The Rams are going to need to continue to draft impactful players if they want to continue to grow and improve as a team, especially this off-season as they are limited in cap space. The early talk on this draft is that it is a little weak at the impact and talent positions. That may be true as a whole but with any draft if you select the right players for your system you can walk away a winner. What teams should not do, and what I hope the Rams won’t do, is over-reach (Wide Receiver), we will talk about this in a little bit.
Everyone knows where the Rams need help at: Offensive Line, Outside Linebacker, Safety and of course everyone’s favorite position to talk about Wide Receiver. Wide Receiver, the Holy Grail for Rams fans. The long overdue position ignored much the same way second base has been by the St. Louis Cardinals. Well sorry to say Rams fans this is not the draft where the horned sheep should waste a first-round pick on the wideout position.
I know many of you are saying are you crazy?!?! Well let me explain. First a draft needs to be looked at as a big picture and not in a narrow scope. By this I mean don’t just compare WR’s in this draft with each other but compare them to their peers from previous drafts. Are Keenan Allen and Cordarrelle Patterson the type of receivers that Justin Blackmon is or AJ Green and Julio Jones. First of all when watching Allen and Patterson this year did any of you say wow these guys are amazing, they are better than Blackmon. Probably not, at least I would hope not. Neither player was as explosive or eye-popping as Blackmon. And that right there says something. It is well documented the Rams coaches had Blackmon and Brian Quick with nearly identical grades and we know they let Blackmon go one pick ahead without a fight and took Quick in the second round. So if Patterson and Allen can’t even reach that grade why would you take them in the First Round??
So now let’s talk about the wide receiver position as a whole being drafted in the first round. As I touched upon you need to look at drafts with a big picture, how do they stack up against previous drafts. We have established there is not really a #1 go-to wideout in this year’s draft. So you say okay well the Rams still need help there so take Allen or Patterson. I don’t agree with that move either. If you want a #1 receiver don’t settle for a #2. And my point is unless there is a true #1 wide receiver sitting there do not waste a first-round pick. Since 2007 there have been 21 wide receivers drafted. Do you know how many are Pro Bowlers? Six. That’s right, just six. And check out the names of those six. Calvin Johnson, Percy Harvin, AJ Green, Julio Jones. Those four are legitimate go-to #1 wideouts. Two more made the Pro Bowl, Demaryius Thomas who made it in large part due to Peyton Manning’s arm and knowledge and then a fluke season for Dwayne Bowe.
Is there really a receiver of that caliber in this year’s draft? I don’t think so. Since there isn’t a go-to WR don’t waste a first rounder on the position. Wait. You have just a good of shot of pulling someone in the second round of this year’s draft than if you spend a first rounder on the position. Now I am not saying the Rams should ignore this position all-together in the draft. They do need to give Sam Bradford more weapons.
So where do the Rams go? Well why not take a safety and offensive lineman in the first round and then if you like a wideout in the second like say Robert Woods, go for him there. I like Robert Woods the WR out of USC. For his first two seasons at USC Woods was unstoppable. Now this year they had plenty of issues at QB and with the team, along with emergence of Marquis Lee and Woods is an afterthought. Coming into this season he was a bonafide possible #1. With all the turmoil at USC all he did this year was score 11 TD’s….not bad. Keep an eye on him in the workouts and he may look good in a Rams uniform. Another possible option, and this is a bit out of the box I admit, why not take a look at one of the two tight end’s at the #22 pick in Tyler Eifert or Zach Ertz. Both are wide receivers in a big boy body and can handle themselves in blocking, which we know is important to the Rams coaching staff. Both would also offer Sam Bradford another weapon, hopefully a more consistent one that Lance Kendricks ever was.
As we get closer to the draft I will discuss more on what presents the Rams should hope are under the tree come April 25th. Until then here’s to the dreams and hopes of all the Rams fans and the debates over the next two months!!!