2012 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams' 7 Rounds, with Trades
Now that the Rams have their coach in place, the next point of emphasis will be a GM and the draft. I want to say thank you to Stan Kroenke for firing BJ & the Bear (Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo) and hiring a real coach.
Bernie Miklasz wrote in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week that the Rams have drafted 104 players from 2000 to 2011, and that out those 104 players, only one (one!) has made the Pro Bowl. And that player would be Steven Jackson.
So, with that said, I thought I would give the Rams a bit of help and suggest a seven-round mock draft for the team with a 10-38 record the past three seasons.
With my mock, there is a caveat. Two trades will be reflected here:
2. The Rams trade Steven Jackson to the New York Jets for a second-round pick and a fifth-round pick.
The Rams have so many holes to fill. I feel Bradford looked disinterested (I know he was hurt) in playing later in the year (Monday Night versus Seattle?) and this will be the third new offense he will have to learn in three seasons. He is already showing early signs of David Carr syndrome, and finally, Robert Griffin III is that good.
Jackson is 29 and I know he can still play (he is the best player the Rams have) but St. Louis needs picks and the Rams could probably get some good value for him from a team that wants to run the ball.
So here is my mock, with the focus on speed. Comments are appreciated. I am not sensitive, so let me have it if you think I am worse than Devaney.
1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
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I know some of you may not like this pick. You think I am giving up on Sam Bradford too soon. But I ask you, have you watched him play at all?
RG3 is the best QB I have seen play in college since Dan Marino at Pitt in 1982. That's 30 years of quarterback play in between.
Griffin III has it all and Andrew Luck has been tagged the best pro QB prospect since John Elway, but RG3 is better.
He has and is EVERYTHING you want in an NFL QB: strong arm, accurate, throws a great deep ball, fast, mobile with world-class speed, elusive, smart, great intangibles, a leader and, most importantly, the quickest release I have ever seen.
The NFL is in the infancy stages of adopting the spread offense that's prevalent in college and high school. It is just a matter of time before it completely takes over the NFL as the dominant offensive scheme. A change is coming and the revolution will be televised (shout out to Gil Scott-Heron). The Rams might as well be ahead of the curve and take the guy who, along with Cam Newton, is going to transform the quarterback position in the NFL.
RG3 will also serve as the face of a desperate franchise. He will bring excitement to the city. Excitement equals ticket sales, ticket sales equal more money, more money means we won't be watching the Los Angeles Rams in five years.
1a. (From Browns) Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
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I am not just going to send Steven Jackson to the Jets without a replacement in mind.
Richardson was college football's best running back in 2011.
He has speed, elusiveness and power. He is the complete back. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and is only 20 years old.
With RG3 and Richardson, the Rams have two budding stars to completely transform an organization that has the worst winning percentage of any team over a five-year span: 15-65. Pitiful.
1b. (From Browns) Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
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I know a lot of you are clamoring for the Rams to take Oklahoma St. wide receiver Justin Blackmon with the second overall pick in the draft.
I like Blackmon a lot. I think he is a stud—a smaller version of Terrell Owens.
But here is a shocker!
I think Kendall Wright is better. Yep, I said it. And I don't think I am the only one who shares the same sentiment.
Not only was Wright RG3's favorite target, but he was also the most explosive receiver in college football in 2011. I have followed Griffin and Wright since they were both freshman at Baylor. I knew right away the two of them were going to be something special.
I liked Wright even more after I found out he was heavily recruited by Bob Stoops to come to Oklahoma, only to choose Baylor.
If Wright played at Oklahoma and put up the kind of stats he put up at Baylor, he would be a top-five pick.
If you have not seen him play, watch some tape, or YouTube him. He is fast with good hands, runs good routes, is electric after the catch and is the true playmaker the Rams have lacked since Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce—only a lot faster.
2. Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
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Janoris Jenkins, formally of the Florida Gators, was widely considered a top-10 talent coming into the 2011 season.
Will Muschamp kicked him off the team and he resurfaced with Terry Bowden at North Alabama.
With Billy Devaney running the draft, someone like Jenkins would not even be on the Rams board. But the selection of Jenkins marks a philosophy switch for the Rams.
The Rams now value talent over all else. Whereas Devaney would only draft locker room guys and nice people, Fisher wants talent. Why? Because talent wins you football games!
Devaney won 12 games during his reign of kindness, overseeing four Rams drafts. He selected Donnie Avery over DeSean Jackson because Avery was nicer than Jackson. Jason Smith must have been a really super nice dude for Devaney to take him No. 2 overall in 2009.
I am not on board with Bradley Fletcher being a strong starting cornerback like most Rams fans. He is not very fast, and I don't feel he would be a starter for most NFL clubs.
Ron Bartell is solid but is coming off a neck injury.
The only way the Rams are able to draft Jenkins at No. 34 is if his character concerns severely drop him down the draft board.
His character, coupled with the fact that he played against D-III competition, has me believing he might be available for the Rams early in the second round.
Fisher won't pass him up.
2a. (From Browns) Michael Adams, OT, Ohio St.
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Rodger Saffold is not the answer at left tackle. Jason Smith is an enormous bust and he may never play football again. He will just take the huge signing bonus that Devaney gave him and retire to a life of leisure. We can take some comfort in knowing that while he is lounging on his couch in retirement he is watching the list of the NFL's biggest draft busts for the rest of his life.
Adams was involved in "Tattoo-gate" at Ohio St. and was suspended for the first five games of the season, which will cause his stock to slip to Round 2.
But Adams is a big athletic man. The Buckeyes' season became exponentially better once he came back from suspension. I trust Adams with protecting RG3's blindside for at least the next six years.
The Rams fared well in the past with left tackles from Ohio St. and while Adams is not in the same class as Orlando Pace (who is?) he is an instant upgrade at the position.
2b. (From Jets) Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
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I am not a fan of the Rams drafting players from Nebraska. They often look to Lincoln every April and decide to select a Cornhusker more than any other school. And with the exception of Grant Wistrom, they have not had much luck.
But Lavonte David is a tackling machine. He is a fast, athletic outside linebacker who plays with a mean streak.
The Rams are very thin at the linebacker position after dipping into free agency in 2011 and signing "White Lightning" (veterans Ben Leber and Brady Poppinga), who flopped miserably.
The highlight of Poppinga's season was him admitting he was intimidated by Larry Allen of the Cowboys early in his career on a radio show with the great Steve Savard. Savard was embarrassed for him and tried to cover, but to me the damage was done. Poppinga was a wimp.
James Laurinaitis is the heart of the Rams defense and arguably the best player the Rams have and definitely the best player Devaney ever selected, but he is flanked by mediocrity.
Chris Chamberlain filled in admirably and honestly played very well for the Rams down the stretch, but he is average at best, and probably better suited as the team's special teams ace and their fourth linebacker.
David, next to Laurinaitis, is a huge improvement and you can bet Fisher will maximize Lavonte's potential.
3. Michael Brewster, C, Ohio St.
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The Rams wasted more money on the offensive line than any other position. Jason Brown was benched in favor of Tony Wragge midway through the 2011 season.
Jason Brown was the crown jewel of the Rams' 2009 free-agent class. He never lived up to advanced billing and was benched in favor of a journeyman street free agent making the league minimum.
Brewster (yes, another Buckeye) is the second best center coming out of the 2012 draft behind Wisconsin's Peter Konz.
I am hoping that Brewster will serve as RG3's battery-mate for many years to come and the Rams can spend their free-agent dollars on more pressing needs.
4. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
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Cliff Harris is another one whose stock will fall because of character concerns, but most of Harris' trouble came from driving his car too fast.
Yes, Chip Kelly kicked him off the team, but that is why he is available for the Rams to take in the fourth round.
Here is what Harris is when his head is on right. A very good cover corner, one of the most explosive athletes in the country and a 2010 All-American as a punt-returner.
Justin King, Nathan Ness, Josh Gordy, Rod Hood, Al Harris, etc., etc., etc. all played at the corner position last year for the Rams. So I am looking at premium talent at a bargain basement rate to get the Rams secondary some respectability.
I like the sound of Janoris Jenkins and Cliff Harris starting at corner a lot better than Justin King and Josh Gordy.
And when was the last time the Rams had a difference-maker at the punt return position (and I don't want to hear anyone mention Nick Miller's name)? Az Hakim?
Harris and the rest of the members of the Rams' draft class will bring in a new wave of speed and athleticism that the Rams seriously lacked during Devaney's reign.
5. (From Jets) Jeff Demps, RB, Florida
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Demps is arguably the fastest kid in college football. Personally, I would take Denard Robinson or De'Anthony Thomas in a foot race between them, but Demps can fly.
The Rams have always lacked that third-down back, that explosive Darren Sproles-type that can be a complement to the feature back.
Demps is not the player Sproles is, but I like the ball in his hands with a chance to break a long run a lot better than I like the chances of Cadillac Williams.
Demps will also add another dimension to the return game. (Quinn Porter? Really.) Instead of getting up to go to the fridge every time the other team kicks off to the Rams, I am hoping Demps makes every return must-see TV.
A Demps/Richardson combination in the Rams backfield would be an intriguing duo. I prefer LaMichael James as that third-down guy for the Rams, but I think that would take the Rams acquiring probably an extra third-round pick.
6. Janzen Jackson, S, McNeese St.
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Continuing my theme with drafting defensive backs with a checkered past, the Rams take former Tennessee All-SEC performer Janzen Jackson.
Yes, Jackson was All-SEC and on his way to being a first-round draft pick before Derek Dooley kicked him off the team.
He continued his career at the FBS school McNeese St. in 2011.
What do we have to lose in taking a former first-round talent in the sixth round?
In last year's draft the Rams used a fifth selection on Ohio St. safety Jermale Hines, only for personnel-savvy Coach Spags to cut him.
Hines was a nice selection, but he couldn't make a Rams squad that featured perhaps the worst secondary in the history of the NFL. What is the risk with taking Jackson?
I know I am going to get crushed by the moral majority for mocking Jenkins, Harris and Jackson (probably Adams too), but the Rams are hurting for talent. They need a roster makeover and if that means taking a flier on some guys who are not the boy scouts Devaney was drafting, so be it!
7. Josh Oglesby, OT, Wisconsin
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Entering the seventh round I am just looking to take the most talented player I can, regardless of position. 2012 is a deep draft and there should be many talented players for the Rams to select in the last round.
Josh Oglesby, the right tackle from Wisconsin, not the RB from Virginia Tech, is one of those players. Oglesby played on the most talented O-line in college football last season. If not for six knee injuries he might have gone a lot higher.
But Oglesby, if he is healthy, should provide good competition for Rodger Saffold, and possibly take his job if Saffold plays to his 2011 form, Oglesby is talented enough to take his spot and Jeff Fisher does not care about draft status.
7a. (From Browns) Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami (Fla.)
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After a very good freshman season, Travis Benjamin, whether because of injury or Jacory Harris, was not the first-day prospect I thought he was.
But I will say Benjamin is a burner, and he can score every time he touches the ball. He could be a great weapon for Griffin III in the slot and could be elite on punt returns.
I was not impressed with Austin Pettis last season and I would be surprised if he made the team. Greg Salas was decent but was not a game-breaker. We will wait and see how Danny Amendola bounces back from his injury next season, but I like the speed element Benjamin could supply the slot position for the Rams in 2012 and beyond.
7b. (Compensatory Pick) Lavasier Tuinei, WR, Oregon
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Yes, another receiver.
Lavasier Tuinei is an intriguing prospect. He doesn't weigh enough to play tight end and is not really fast enough to be an outside receiver or a down-the-field threat in the NFL.
But Tuinei is 6"6" and would provide a legitimate red-zone threat for RG3 and the Rams. He has really good hands and good body control. He reminds me a little bit of the Buffalo Bills receiver David Nelson.
The Rams have Danario Alexander, and I think he is really good and totally underrated and Spags and Josh McDaniels undervalued Alexander last season. Besides Brandon Lloyd, D-X was the only other receiver to make plays for the Rams. But Alexander has a lengthy injury history, so Tuinei could be nice value in the seventh round for the Rams.
But I am hoping the Fisher regime recognizes Alexander's talent and uses those talents accordingly.
So this is my mock, with a tremendous emphasis on speed.
I know the Rams need a DT and probably a legit TE because Lance Kendricks can't catch and Illinois Mike is made of glass.
I instead decided to emphasize speed. The NFL is now a passing league and the power football is mostly a thing of the past, so I wanted the Rams to get ahead of the curve.
I feel like Devaney built the Rams based on the Atlanta Falcons model of the power running game with Michael Turner, but even Atlanta recognized that they needed to be able to throw the ball downfield if they were going to compete in the NFC with the Saints and the Packers, hence the Julio Jones trade.
San Francisco with that defense looks like the scariest team in the league. For the Rams and Jeff Fisher, the NFC West in not getting any easier going forward.
Let's all hope the 2012 draft helps the Rams close the gap on the 49ers and the rest of the NFC West. We all know they have about six drafts of catching up to do.