The 2012 NFL Draft is just 20 days away with the St. Louis Rams on the clock with the No.6 overall pick. The Rams also hold two early second-round picks, an early third and fourth-round pick, one pick in the sixth round and two seventh round picks.
The Rams' fifth round was traded to the Denver Broncos in exchange for Brandon Lloyd last season.
It is difficult to predict possible draft pick trades that could affect the Rams, and how much is received to trade up or down. Therefore, this mock draft is going to operate under the assumption of the first six picks being held by its current owners.
But in reality, it's really hard to accurately pinpoint who a team will take each round. You never know if someone is going to reach for a guy, let someone fall down in the order, or if a team will make a sudden jump up to snag who they feel is a promising QB.
When April 26 comes around, though, there is a better chance than not that the draft order will still be:
- Indianapolis Colts
- Washington Redskins
- Minnesota Vikings
- Cleveland Browns
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- St. Louis Rams
Team Needs: OL WR LB DL CB S
Let's take a look.
I'm going to go out on a limb that is getting shorter and shorter (in my opinion) and join analysts Adam Schefter and Brian Baldinger that USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil will fall to the St. Louis Rams at No. 6.
The overwhelming consensus is the Rams will draft Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon at this position, but I think the Minnesota Vikings snatch him up at No. 3.
The Vikings desperately need a deep threat to pair with Percy Harvin, which could be even more threatening with mobile quarterback Christian Ponder. And after a poor 2011 season, expect the Vikings to make a splash with someone who could provide to be a legitimate scoring threat.
Kalil would let the Rams accomplish their primary goal this offseason: to protect quarterback Sam Bradford. Considered one of the best tackles to come out of the draft in years, the Rams would be content knowing Bradford's blindside is protected.
If not Kalil: Justin Blackmon, WR (Oklahoma State). Trent Richardson isn't going to slip past the Browns or Buccaneers if the current draft order stays in tact. If Minnesota goes Kalil, the Rams will probably lean towards Blackmon.
While on the NFL Network's Free Agency Frenzy last month, head coach Jeff Fisher emphasized that the team will get weapons for quarterback Sam Bradford. After failing to do so in free agency, the Rams will be forced to make a significant offensive upgrade at wide receiver in the draft.
Enter Kendall Wright.
Missing out on Justin Blackmon in the first round, the Rams would be blessed to grab Wright with the first pick of the second round. The 5'10", 196-lb receiver out of Baylor ran an unofficial 4.46 and 4.43 40 at the college's pro day. Wright possess great agility, hands and quickness off the line.
The question is, however, will Wright drop out of the first round?
My answer is that there's a strong possibility. Receivers predicted to go in the first round seem to drop annually, and I wouldn't be surprised if teams in the first round look for bigger receivers.
There are a list of potential suitors for Wright in the first round. However, I see the Jacksonville Jaguars drafting Michael Floyd at No. 7, the Buffalo Bills taking Riley Reiff at No. 10, the New York Jets with Courtney Upshaw at No. 16 and the Cleveland Browns taking Stephen Hill at No. 22.
The biggest question mark out of it all is what the Browns do at No. 22.
After drafting three first rounders at wide receivers in recent years who haven't panned out, I would expect the Browns to take a guy like Hill who has better intangibles for the position, such as being 6'4" and 209 lbs.
While NFLDraftScout.com has Wright projected at a first rounder and Hill as a first or second rounder, Hill's stock has been on the rise in recent weeks while Wright's has slightly tumbled.
Could the Browns ultimately decide to go Wright over Hill—absolutely.
If not Wright: Stephen Hill, WR (Georgia Tech). The Rams need offensive weapons for Bradford, so expect them to address it early in the draft. If my prediction from the first round is correct, and Blackmon is taken by Minnesota at No. 3, then the Rams have to upgrade as soon as possible.
As mentioned above, the Browns are the X factor for whose available at No. 33 for the Rams. If they take Wright, then Hill should still be available.
The defensive tackle position remains one of the largest glaring holes for the St. Louis Rams after Justin Bannan and Fred Robbins were released last month. By selecting Kendall Reyes, (6'4", 299-lbs) and placing him on the defensive line alongside Chris Long, Robert Quinn and newly signed Kendall Langford might just be illegal.
According to a scouting report on Reyes at Fantasy Football Toolbox, he holds his ground well, and anchors the line as he attacks blockers. Just like Langford, he excels against the run, leaving Long and Quinn to target the quarterback.
Last year's outside linebackers in Chris Chamberlain and Brady Poppinga are gone. James Laurinaitis has a handle of the middle linebacker spots and the Rams just signed Jo-Lonn Dunbar to compete for one of OLB spots.
Add Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David at the linebacker position and you won't see the Rams having one of the worst run defenses again in the league next season.
The 6'1", 230-lb linebacker brings it all at the position, including pass coverage and against the run. As Bleacher Report featured columnist Shane Gray notes, David may be considered undersized for the position, yet the number of assets he brings to the table outweigh his stature.
Depth of good cornerbacks in this year's draft is pretty deep, which is why I think the Rams will wait until the fourth round to address this need and select Dwight Bentley out of Louisiana-Lafayette.
Rated No. 14 out of 228 cornerbacks in the draft by NFLDraftScout.com, Bentley was a four-year starter who is quick, aggressive and tracks ball movement well. However, the 5'11" corner needs to put on some muscle as his thin frame weighs in at 182 lbs.
If not Bentley: then Jamell Fleming, CB (Oklahoma). The Rams will address corner somewhere in the middle of this draft unless they go Morris Claiborne in the first round.
Running back Adonis Thomas out of Toledo would be an interesting pick for the Rams in the sixth round, and his stock is on the rise. Thomas has quick feet that accelerate him through holes at the line of scrimmage. He is great out of the backfield and possesses great hands, which would give quarterback Sam Bradford another weapon to work with. He could also serve as a kick returner on special teams.
If not Thomas: Kelcie McCray, S (Arkansas State).
The 6'0", 205-lb Tavon Wilson out of Illinois would fill an emerging need within the St. Louis Rams secondary. While the thick safety has shown trouble closing distance at times, his stock is on the rise after good workouts.
If not Robinson: As Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Shane Gray noted in his most recent mock draft, guard Rishaw Johnson may be a good value pick here.
When the St. Louis Rams and punter Donnie Jones parted ways at the start of this offseason, his agent said the team claimed not to want him back because they planned on filling the need through the draft, according to Pro Football Talk.
Punters tend to go in the seventh round, so expect the Rams to use one of their seventh round picks to snag one of the best guys available at the position with Drew Butler out of Georgia. He averaged more than 42 yards per punt last year, with many of those kicks being short placement punts.
If not Butler: Bryan Anger, P (California)