Robert Quinn, the Rams first round choice in the 2011 draft.
The St. Louis Rams have a lot of holes to fill after last year's disastrous 2-14 year.
The 2012 NFL draft has to be completely different from last year's. Last year's draft yielded no stud players that the Rams desperately needed. Players like Robert Quinn and Lance Kendricks were all players that provided depth and potential but nothing game changing.
The Rams need to maximize return with their draft picks this year. With five selections in the first four rounds and three in the top 40, the Rams need to select players that will help them this season if they want any hope to compete with the 49ers in the NFC West.
It has been well documented that stud running back Steven Jackson has a difficult time staying healthy. Though he rarely misses games, Jackson cannot continue to be the only running back the Rams employ.
Last off-season, the Rams signed both Jerious Norwood and Cadillac WIlliams to fill in the spots behind Jackson; however, both are long past their prime and have thankfully been released by the club.
The Rams need a young back up to compliment Jackson and take 8-12 carries away from him a game. A young back who can grow and learn behind Jackson, who turns 29 in July and has a lot or wear and tear on his body.
Running backs that would fit the Rams needs around their fourth-round selection are Robert Turbin from Utah State or Cyrus Gray out of Texas A&M.
Turbin is a strong big back who can easily handle rushing the ball up the middle in the NFL. With both Turbin and Jackson pounding away at defenses it would make for a long day for an opposing team's defensive line. Turbin also has sleeper potential and all the tools a back would need to be an every-down starter in the league.
Gray comes into the NFL with some concerns about his durability after he suffered a shoulder injury and missed his final two games with the Aggies. Gray is strictly a committee back and at best I see him being a solid, but unspectacular, starter in a few seasons.
I must address that spending the sixth overall pick to select Trent Richardson is not a smart move by the Rams. Running backs don't go that high for a reason. Since the Rams already have a stud running back, drafting another would be a luxury pick for a team that does not have any.
The Rams have not had a quality outside linebacker in years. That needs to change this season.
James Laurinaitis is the best middle linebacker nobody talks about. Over three season, he has averaged a little over 125 tackles a year. With players like Brady Poppinga and Chris Chamberlain flanking him, imagine what he could do with quality OLB's with him.
The Rams have few OLB's on the roster and no starting talent. If a first round talent like Zack Brown falls to them in the top of the second, Jeff Fisher and company should pull the trigger, but a more realistic scenario is taking an OLB in the third round with the 65th-overall pick.
Bobby Wagner out of Utah State is the player I would be targeting. He totaled 147 tackles in his senior season to go along with four sacks and two interceptions. He is around 240 lbs and does not look like he can grow much bigger, which designates him as solely a 4-3 OLB. With so many teams running a 3-4 defense he will drop much farther than he should and the Rams would be happy to select him 65th overall.
The Rams offensive line is a real problem. The last thing the organization needs is Sam Bradford to develop David Carr syndrome.
There are good pieces in the Rams O-line. Jason Smith, though not worth the second-overall pick he was selected with, would be a fine left guard. With a Smith shift that would fix the interior of the Rams line with Smith, newly signed Scott Wells would work at center and Harvey Dahl at right guard.
Also Roger Saffold is a starting tackle in the NFL, but the Rams must decide whether that be on the right or left side. I see an average left tackle and possibly a very good right tackle in Saffold.
Their are two scenarios with the need.
1) Someone falls in love with Ryan Tannehill and trades with the Minnesota Vikings to select him. Thus leading USC's Matt Khalil to drop to the Rams at number six overall.
2) The Rams spend either their 33rd or 39th overall pick (which they received from the Redskins) on an OT.
It seems like the second scenario is most plausible and that likely only leaves two OT prospects worthy of picks near the top of the second round. Mike Adams, the boom or bust tackle from Ohio State, and Bobby Massie, from Ole Miss.
As I have said in the introduction, the Rams need game changers, but they also need to get as much return as possible from every pick.
Mike Adams is the guy if the Rams front office thinks his four-game suspension and his low bench press totals are all coincidences, but there is just too much risk with a player like Adams.
The Rams should select Bobby Massie with the 39th overall pick in the 2012 draft. He is a little raw, but he has the size, speed and athleticism to become a quality starter at either tackle position.
Jerel Worthy will be a solid staple of the Rams D-line for years to come
The Rams have two great young book-end pass rushers in Chris Long and Robert Quinn, but that is nothing if teams can run through the middle of their defensive line.
Both Justin Bannan and Fred Robbins, last year's DT starters for the Rams, have been cut and rightfully so considering their age and overall decline in play. The Rams did sign Kendall Langford to a deal this off-season, but he is simply not enough. Langford has also spent his entire career playing end in a 3-4 defense so there are no guarantees he will pan out.
This area could easily be looked at in the first round, but there is so much depth in this year's DT class that a quality day-one starter will be available at the top of the second round.
The best DT available at the 33rd overall pick should be Jerel Worthy.
The Michigan State Spartan has not put up the greatest numbers (only 30 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks), but Worthy is a disruptor. Though there are some conditioning problems, which can and will be fixed by Jeff Fisher, Worthy has all the natural skills and techniques that will make him a solid pro.
Worthy may never be a Pro Bowl player, but Quinn and Long will be patting him on the back when they buy their tickets to Hawaii.
This is a no-brainer. The Rams have not had a wide receiver catch for over 1,000 yards since 2007 when Torry Holt accomplished the feat.
The Rams have no number one receiver on the team. That's why with the sixth-overall pick they need to select Justin Blackmon. He was absolutely dominant at OSU. He was constantly a mismatch for almost every cornerback he faced all season long.
Blackmon ended his collegiate career with a 1,522 yard and 18 touchdown season.
The selection of Blackmon would make every aspect of the Rams offense better. Blackmon would make the opposing secondaries play honest against him, thus opening up the run game for Jackson who would be better than ever with less pressure.
Blackmon would also open the underneath routes for Danny Amendola and newly signed Steve Smith providing easier passes for Sam Bradford. With increased confidence from Bradford the St. Louis Rams offense would become the strongest it's been in years.
All of this from one player.
This is what the Rams' draft day strategy should look like.
Thanks for reading. Cheers.
PS: Don't forget to leave a comment below and tell me what you think the Rams' draft plans should be.