St. Louis Rams 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results and Analysis

Darin PikeContributor IApril 26, 2012

St. Louis Rams 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results and Analysis

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    2012 NFL Draft updates and analysis will be provided to fans of all 32 NFL franchises by Bleacher Report. This article will provide the information you need for the St. Louis Rams.

    Pages will be added for every pick and move made by Les Snead and Jeff Fisher in his first draft with his new team. Check back often for updates, including player information and analysis on every drafted player.

    Don't forget to look at the final slide. Draft grades will be assigned for every selection and move, along with an overall grade for the Rams' 2012 draft.

Rams Draft Plans

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    St. Louis has a lot of draft capital left in 2012, but they also have a lot of needs. They were able to plug some holes in free agency, but others opened up.

    They focused on the defensive line, but were not able to secure Jason Jones who ended up signing with the division rival Seattle Seahawks. They did manage to sign Kendall Langford, who should be a solid starter with a move to a 4-3 front. They also added Trevor Laws, but he should not be seen as a starter.

    Wide receiver has been an issue the last few years. Brandon Lloyd filled some of the void last season, but he left in free agency. Signing Steve Smith gives Sam Bradford a receiver who can be a good complement, but he's far from a No. 1 target.

    Running back is another area of focus. With trade talks following Steven Jackson, not to mention contract concerns and his age, it is time for the Rams to look at a player who can be a short-term backup and future star. They will have solid options with at least two of their first three picks.

    While some analysts have written off the Rams' offensive line, and Rodger Saffold specifically, their real issue has been health. They had a solid group in 2010 when they were all on the field and healthy. 

    The Rams' front office does need to look at blocking depth, though.

    Grades and analysis will operate with the following team needs in mind:

    More Draft Picks

    Wide Receiver

    Defensive Tackle

    Running Back

    Offensive Tackle

    Offensive Guard

    Free Safety

    Outside Linebacker

    Punter

    Secondary Depth

    Defensive Line Depth

Round 1: Trade with Washington

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    Details:

    St. Louis trades the second selection of the 2012 NFL Draft to the Washington Redskins. In return, they receive the sixth selection in 2012, the 39th pick in 2012, and the Redskins' first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.

     

    Analysis:

    While part of me did wonder if the Rams should have explored what they could get in return for Sam Bradford, and in return free up $10 million of salary cap room in 2013 and 2014, it is hard to be upset with this move. Getting four high picks for one is tough to turn down...particularly when it only required dropping four spots in the draft.

    There are no excuses for the Rams not being back in contention by 2015 with the added draft capital. 

    Fans will be understandably upset if it takes them that long. While the team has several holes to fill, having at least three picks in the first two rounds should go a long way in prepping the team to win a lot more games in 2012.

Round 1: Trade with Dallas

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    Details:

    St. Louis trades the sixth selection of the 2012 NFL Draft to the Dallas Cowboys. In return, they receive the 14th and 45th selections.

     

    Analysis:

    This move does address the No. 1 need for the Rams...acquiring more picks in the 2012 draft. However, the trade fails to live up to the Draft Value Chart

    The trade is not a surprise, particularly with Justin Blackmon off the board. If Michael Floyd is available at 14 this trade will be validated, but with Fletcher Cox on the board, it is a big risk. The Rams could have answered a big need at six.

     

    UPDATE:

    With Floyd and Cox off the board, the Rams missed on this trade. The extra second round pick doesn't make up for the drop in talent.

Round 1, Pick 15: Rams Select Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

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    The Rams moved back for little compensation and watched the top defensive tackle in Fletcher Cox fall off the board. Their other primary need was at wide receiver and stud wideout, Michael Floyd went to the Rams' division rival Arizona Cardinals.

    It is possible that Michael Brockers was the player they wanted all along, but that seems unlikely. The Rams have struggled with draft picks over the last eight years and it appears that trend will continue with this draft.

    The Rams can acquire extra picks, but if they don't draft impact players it won't help.

Round 2, Pick 33: Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State

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    The Rams continue to make some interesting decisions that have plagued them in recent seasons. 

    Brian Quick was a solid receiver in college and boasts decent speed for a big receiver (6'4", 220 lbs). He had 71 catches for 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns, but his level of competition makes these numbers somewhat suspect.

    CBSSports.com provides a great summary for my particular issue with Quick.

    Route running: Needssignificant work in this area, though he has intriguing tools to work with. Is a smooth accelerator whose long strides eat up the cushion quickly and get him to top-end speed efficiently. Good balance and flexibility to sink his hips and generate good burst laterally out of his breaks to separate, especially for a receiver of his size. Inconsistent route runner. Struggled a bit at the Senior Bowl when his size and athleticism weren't enough to beat defenders. 

    Quick was seen as a late-second or third-round player. He dominated lesser competition, but he could really struggle with bigger, stronger and faster corners in the NFL.

    It seems like the NFC West is having a battle to see which team can make the biggest reach for a player in the 2012 NFL Draft.

    Quick certainly fills a need, but I have to believe he would have been available later in Round 2. They could have answered another big need by drafting Coby Fleener with this pick and then grabbed Quick with pick 39.

    It said it would be almost impossible for the Rams to not have a great draft in 2012, but early on they are trying to prove me wrong.

    This summary may change based on the positions the Rams take at 39 and 45. It seems likely they will take a running back and offensive linemen, but there will be quality options for line depth in Round 3. A string of tight end, wide receiver and running back in Round 2 with offensive line in Round 3 could have filled some holes and rounded out the offense.

    However, if offensive line was a need for the Rams, the order of their second-round selections meant they missed out on several quality options.

Round 2, Pick 39: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

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    While it is hard to decipher the draft logic of the Rams, I do like the addition of Janoris Jenkins. He is a quality option on the field if they can keep him out of trouble off of it.

    The Rams had major injury issues at the corner last season and they look to get young and healthy with Jenkins. 

    NFL.com provides a solid summary of the issues Jenkins has dealt with and how he might measure up in the NFL:

    Jenkins was a three-year starter at Florida before transferring to North Alabama after multiple run-ins with the law and the Gators' coaching staff. While there are some character concerns, Jenkins is a natural cover corner who has strong instincts and athletic ability to cover top wideouts.

    Size is also a concern for Jenkins, but he has shown the ability to match up with big-time SEC talent through the years. He looks comfortable with the ball in his hands as a returner and projects to contribute there, as well. If teams can overlook his off-field transgressions, Jenkins has the natural abilities to be a bonafide first-round talent and potentially could be selected in the first 15 picks.

    My only issue here is that the Rams opted to pass on Morris Claiborne. They could have drafted a player like Jerel Worthy in Round 2 instead of Michael Brockers. 

    Unless the Rams are able to get an incredible talent with their pick from the Dallas Cowboys, it looks like they have traded quality for quantity.

Round 2, Pick 45: Traded to Chicago Bears

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    The Rams picked up another fifth-round pick by moving back five spots. This is a great move, provided they don't lose out on a player they are targeting.

    With the top offensive line prospects coming off the board before this pick, the Rams are either re-grouping or have a player in mind that will be available a bit later in Round 2.

Round 2, Pick 50: Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati

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    I was anxiously awaiting this pick, as the player taken is the compensation for basically dropping from Morris Claiborne and possibly Jerel Worthy to Janoris Jenkins and Michael Brockers.

    While Brockers has a better outlook than Worthy, Jenkins is a far cry from Claiborne.

    Isaiah Pead is a quality runner, but had a third-round grade from most sources. He was also ranked below Lamar Miller in most summaries and Chris Polk in a large percentage.

    It seemed as though the Rams would take a running back to eventually replace Steven Jackson, but Pead doesn't appear to be that player. He isn't a big power runner, but rather will make cuts and use his top-end speed to make plays.

    Pead is a complement to Jackson. Should he be pressed into starting duties, the Rams' power ground game will need to change. 

    This pick seems like a reach and an odd fit. It will be interesting to see how Jeff Fisher plans to use him.

    NFL.com has a higher projection for Pead, though:

    Pead is an explosive, electrifying running back from Cincinnati who has produced in all areas. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, make a guy miss and turn upfield for a score, or do all that from running inside the tackles.

    He uses his vision and athletic ability to find a hole and once there has the long speed to take it the distance. There are few question marks around the skill set of Pead's game; some may worry about his play transferring to the next level, as he has shown the tendency to disappear at times.

    Pead has an initial step out of his stance that is comparable to some of the best backs currently in the league. He hits the hole explosively and gets up to top speed quickly, which allows him to get upfield and find a seam without getting touched.

    Pead isn't a willing blocker and barely displays the strength to stall rushers when he does step in. He is a bit undersized and hasn't been hit enough times in college to get a feeling of what his durability will be at the next level.

    Pead is a great pick if Jackson stays in St. Louis and stays healthy. Both of those items are questionable, though.

Round 3, Pick 65: Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana

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    Adding Trumaine Johnson is a reflection of the Rams' need to shore up their secondary. They needed help at corner and free safety.

    The lingering question is which of these players, if either, will be moved to free safety.

    Johnson was my eighth-ranked cornerback in my 2012 rankings. There was very little grade difference between him and Jamell Fleming at No. 5 and Josh Robinson at eight, both of whom were still on the board.

    In my rankings I described Johnson:

    I really want to put Trumaine Johnson higher in this list, but things get a little crowded above this pick. I've had the luxury of watching him play live, and he is an exciting playmaker with the size and speed that many NFL teams are coveting in their secondary.

    He figures to be a Day 2 selection and will give an NFL team great value there. He'll have some work to do transitioning to the NFL.

    Johnson could be a great fallback for the Minnesota Vikings if they don't grab a corner in the first two rounds. They can't bank on him being there at that point, though.

    There is a chance a GM wants to take a chance with Johnson and snags him in the first 30 minutes on Friday.

    The Rams did grab Johnson out from under the Vikings who took Robinson with the following pick.

    While I do feel St. Louis has made some mistakes in this draft, this isn't one of them. They are improving their roster and should show marked improvement in 2012.

     

    NFL Combine Performance:

    40 time: 4.5
    Bench: 19
    Vertical: 35.5″
    Broad Jump: 10’2″
    3 Cone: 7.2
    Shuttle: 4.15

Round 4, Pick 96: Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

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    Recognizing the need for more help at wide receiver, the Rams make Chris Givens their first selection of Day 3. He is an intriguing option, but he isn't without on-field concerns.

    Givens was the highest rated receiver left in the draft and some expected him to go as early as Round 2. He looks like a slot receiver, but wasn't used as much in Wake Forest's option scheme as he'll be used in St. Louis.

    NFL.com describes Givens abilities:

    Givens is an early-entry junior out of Wake Forest where he was a first-team All-ACC selection this past year. He has adequate size and is a blazing straight-line runner who looks similar to Philadelphia's Jeremy Maclin with his movements in-route.

    He relies heavily on his speed in all he does and is the type of receiver capable of taking a speed-out and cutting up field to daylight. He is a polished player who could be selected late in the first round; he has all the traits to be a productive NFL receiver and an immediate No. 2 option.

    It is clear Givens believed he'd go higher than Round 4, as he left college early. If Givens can improve his dedication and commit to gaining yards after the catch instead of stepping out of bounds, he could become a favorite target of Sam Bradford.

Round 5: Rams Trade Pick to Denver for Brandon Lloyd

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    The addition of Brandon Lloyd was a great move by the Rams last season at a time when they were thin on offensive talent.

    However, at the time the Rams were already out of the playoff picture so any moves made should have been to build for the future. Sending a fifth-round pick for a player that will be gone the next season doesn't exactly fit.

    The Rams needed to work on a new contract with Lloyd prior to trading for him. They didn't, and their rebuild is slightly diminished because of the move.

Round 5, Pick 150: Rams Select Rokevious Watkins, OL, South Carolina

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    This pick was compensation from the Bears for moving down five spots in Round 2.

    The Rams show a recognition of needs on the offensive line. They take Rokevious Watkins, a big (6'4", 338 lb) tackle that is a bruising run blocker. His speed and mobility is suspect, though.

    Watkins played guard for two seasons before moving to play both right and left tackle for the Gamecocks. He projects as a guard in the NFL and was expected to be an option in Round 7 or go undrafted.

    This pick makes little sense with Senio Kelemete and Lucas Nix available.

Round 6, Pick 171: Greg Zuerlein, K, Missouri Western

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    The Rams have worked on filling holes in the first five rounds. Heading into this round the highest remaining priorities were linebacker, punter and offensive line.

    Instead, they select a kicker. I need a moment to let this set in.

    Josh Brown is entering the final year of his contract, and the team needs to be thinking about options going forward.

    Perhaps they feel the can push Greg Zuerlein to the practice squad and let him develop and challenge Brown in 2013. That seems like a good approach, but Zuerlein was not expected to be drafted. He's the fifth-ranked kicker and is ranked around 350 overall.

    Given he is a Missouri player, the odds of the Rams being able to sign him to an undrafted free agent contract seemed rather high. Perhaps seeing a few of the top linebackers left fall to NFC West opponents interrupted their plans.

    To be fair to the Rams, there were several teams showing interest in Zuerlein. Mel Kiper Jr. has him listed as his top kicker in the draft, so the Rams didn't want to miss out on him. From that perspective, drafting him makes sense.

    But this simply wasn't a need at the moment, unless the Rams have had enough of Brown and want to move forward with a young kicker as they rebuild.

Round 7, Pick 209: Aaron Brown, LB, Hawaii

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    The St. Louis Rams came in with a need for a starting linebacker. They finally grab one in the final round, selecting Aaron Brown out of Hawaii.

    Brown is 6'1" and just 220 lbs. CBS Sports has him ranked as their 706th player, and he isn't listed on NFL.com. 

    This seems to be yet another odd pick for St. Louis.

Round 7, Pick 252: Daryl Richardson, RB, Abilene Christian

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    The Rams have one more opportunity with the second-to-last pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Their deals and selections have been a bit odd up to this point, but there are quality players still available.

    Instead of drafting one of them they took Daryl Richardson. He's a smaller back at 5'10", 190 lbs. He gained some attention after running a 4.46 at his pro day.

    This pick would make more sense if not for the pick of Pead in Round 2.

St. Louis Rams 2012 NFL Draft Report Card

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    Bleacher Report will be providing a grade for each pick and draft move. The Rams will be judged in the first round on their ability to either grab a high-profile player with the sixth pick or the value they get for a trade.

    From there, grades will depend on their ability to find value and plug holes.

    Round 1: Rams trade with Washington

    Grade: A

    Round 1: Rams trade with Dallas

    Grade: C 

    Round 1: Rams draft Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

    Grade: B

    Round 2: Rams draft Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State

    Grade: C-

    Round 2: Rams draft Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

    Grade: A

    Round 2: Rams trade with Bears

    Grade: A

    Round 2: Rams draft Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati

    Grade: C+

    Round 3: Rams draft Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana

    Grade: A-

    Round 4: Rams draft Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

    Grade: A-

    Round 5: Rams trade for Brandon Lloyd

    Grade: F

    Round 5: Rams select Rokevious Watkins, OL, South Carolina

    Grade: D

    Round 6: Rams select Greg Zuerlein, K, Missouri Western

    Grade: C-

    Round 7: Rams select Aaron Brown, LB, Hawaii

    Grade: D

    Round 7: Rams select Daryl Richardson, RB, Abilene Christian

    Grade: D

    Overall Draft Grade: B

    My biggest issue with the Rams is they appear to be trading quality players for quantity. The trade with Washington was one of the best in recent seasons, but from there they squandered an opportunity to get a shut-down corner or elite wide receiver or defensive tackle.

    Getting more picks was the No. 1 priority for the Rams, and they certainly are doing that. However, they only added a third-round talent with the extra second-round pick and had a measurable drop in talent due to the trade with Dallas.

    They've added some players with off-field concerns but immense talent. It is time to get the support system in place.