Perhaps the single-biggest reason is the new "team-friendly" rookie wage scale.
According to this from ESPN, the top picks are worth more than ever because of this change in the NFL's 2011 collective bargaining agreement.'
To put it all in perspective, the Rams Sam Bradford already has made more on his six-year, $78 million dollar rookie contract (No. 1 pick in 2010) than Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers (No. 1 pick in 2011) will make over the entirety of his four-year, $22 million dollar rookie contract, according to this column from foxsports.com.
In the past, teams faced financial risk by moving into the top 10, and even more by moving into the top five.
Under the new CBA, that is no longer the case. Rookies are no longer walking into their first training camp as the highest-paid player on the team. They are no longer being paid higher than established All-Pro performers.
In the past, a busted No. 1 pick (like Ryan Leaf) could hamstring a franchise and its salary cap for many years.
JaMarcus Russell is another example of the financial risk involved in drafting a top pick under the old "player-friendly" rookie wage scale.
Russell, the top pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, was awarded more than $30 million in guaranteed money from the Oakland Raiders and was to eventually receive more than $42 million, even after being cut in 2010. His overall contract would have come to at least $61 million over six years, with a max of $68 million.
The Russell contract (and any No. picks of the last 10 years) will dwarf that of the top five picks in the 2012 NFL Draft.
In reference to the top of the NFL Draft, Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand said: "I think the top of the (first) round is much more ripe for the pickings than it was in the past because the contracts were such a burden to the top-of-the-draft clubs that no clubs wanted to get up there.''
It not only looks like "the top of the round is much more ripe for the pickings" this year, but that the harvest is ripe and getting riper for the Rams.
The bidding is likely to be enhanced because the value of the picks has significantly increased under the new CBA.