This section of our 2012 NFL Draft team-by-team mock will focus on the St. Louis Rams:
No matter what happens next weekend in the 2012 NFL Draft, it’s going to be hard not to declare the St. Louis Rams among the winners, when all the picks are made and the analyzing has begun.The Rams, who started the draft process holding the second overall pick, masterfully traded the selection to the Washington Redskins for an enormous bounty, following the rapid rise of Baylor Quarterback Robert Griffin III, which made the spot extremely valuable.
The Rams, had no interest in Griffin III or as he is more commonly known RG3, because they already have a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, who the team drafted with the first overall pick in 2010. Therefore, the Rams took advantage of the situation and turned the 2nd pick into three first rounds picks, including the sixth overall this year, as well as a second round pick this year, giving them three of the first 39 picks.
Now that the Rams are on the clock in our team-by-team mock of the Draft, let’s examine how many of the players they’ve reportedly been interested in are still on the board. Unfortunately for the Rams, Alabama running back Trent Richardson and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, both players the Rams have been linked too, are off the board in our mock, as Richardson went to the Browns and Claiborne landed in Tampa Bay.
Therefore, the Rams options have narrowed to Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox or a possible attempt by the Rams to trade down again.
Although, there has not been a ton of talk about Cox going this high, he is a very talented player, who is an elite interior pass rusher, which are rare in the NFL. Cox is also stout against the run and has position versatility. Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher always made the defensive line, which he likes to be deep and talented, into the cornerstone of his defenses in Tennessee. Therefore, it should not surprise anyone if Cox, who registered 8.5 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss in three season in the SEC, comes off the board here.
Trading down may also be an option for the Rams, if they feel that can get more value later on in the draft. However trading down requires a partner and at this point, none of the players available would cause teams to start inquiring about moving up, so while it’s an option, it’s not likely to happen.
The Rams choice here should be fairly obvious, they are in desperate need of an upgrade at wide receiver and Blackmon would certainly fit the mold of what the Rams are looking for in a receiver. He does not possess elite size or speed, but he has good hands, is tremendous at getting yards after the catch and was extremely productive in college, playing in a spread offense.
In his last two seasons at Oklahoma State, Blackmon caught 232 passes for 3,304 to go along with 38 touchdown receptions. Yes, his measurables could be a slightly better, but how many times have teams passed on receivers because they were a little bit slow or a slightly undersized and regretted it.
Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers is a perfect example. He is under 6’0 tall and runs a 4.6 in the forty-yard dash, yet Jennings is a football player, runs great routes, has great hands and all the necessary instincts to close on the ball faster than others, simple as that. He runs incredibly smooth routes, so the fact that he doesn’t have blazing speed is irrelevant.
Football is not played on a track, so pure speed is overrated. The only thing that matters is the speed a guy plays with on the field and if you’ve watched Blackmon play, his time in the 40-yard dash should not concern you.
Picking Blackmon should not be a tough decision at this spot for the Rams. The team hasn’t had a true no.1 receiver since Torry Holt’s heyday and it’s time to invest in skill players that can make Bradford’s life a little easier. Due to the extra picks acquired in the RG3 deal, The Rams have a rare chance to drastically accelerate their rebuilding project, possibly transforming themselves into a contender much faster than expected. The key is drafting good players with those extra picks and nabbing Blackmon with the sixth overall would be a great first step on the path to playoff contention.