St. Louis Rams: Do They Have a 1,000-Yard Receiver on the Roster This Year?
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If you want a reason, just take your pick.
The Rams' offensive line hasn't been very good since the great Olrando Pace began to decline. Over an eight-year period (1998-2005), Pace played and started 122 out of 128 games. Pace could protect the blind side by himself, and he was so good that Rams fans probably took him for granted.
Injuries started to take hold, and Pace played in only half of the games during the '06 season, then only one game during the '07 season. Without Pace, the Rams' offensive line struggled. Marc Bulger went from being a promising young QB—he made the Pro Bowl in 2006—to a hobbled, beaten, shadow of his former self.
The Rams' receivers have been just as bad as the O-Line in recent years.
Issac Bruce got old and left as a free agent after the 2007 season. Torry Holt is the owner of that last 1,000-yard season in 2007, catching 93 passes for 1,189 yards and seven touchdowns. The Rams never found an adequate replacement for Bruce. As Holt began to decline, the Rams never found anybody to replace him either.
You can't say the Rams didn't try.
The Rams have drafted nine wide receivers since the 2007 draft, including Chris Givens and Brian Quick, the Rams' most recent draft choices. Of those nine receivers, seven of them have been drafted in the fourth round or earlier, but none of them have been first-round picks.
Will the Rams have a 1,000-yard receiver this season?
Of those nine receivers, they have caught a combined 207 passes for only 2,445 yards.
The most productive receiver the Rams have drafted since the departure of Holt and Bruce has been Donny Avery, the first pick in the second round back in 2008. Avery's career totals look like what Rams fans hoped he could accomplish in one great season: 103 catches for 1,308 yards and nine touchdowns.
So after so many years of ineptitude, do the Rams finally have a 1,000-yard receiver on their roster?
All eyes are on Brian Quick, the Rams' 2012 second-round draft pick. Quick is the most physically imposing receiver (6'4", 220 pounds) on the roster, and he is also a fluid athlete. Chris Givens, a 2012 fourth-round pick, is the fastest player on the roster.
Both rookies bring a deep-threat element to this offense that's been lacking for several seasons.
Greg Salas, a 2011 fourth-round pick, had a decent showing as a rookie before breaking his leg. Salas has been a bright spot in camp so far this year and looks like a keeper.
Danny Amendola, the Rams' leading receiver in 2010 with 85 catches, has a chance to have a big season after missing almost all of last season with a dislocated elbow.
In my opinion, none of these players will rack up 1,000 yards in 2012.
The Rams simply don't have a stud receiver, somebody capable of dominating a secondary, on this roster. Maybe Brian Quick will be that player one day. We all certainly hope so. He isn't that guy today. Amendola is going to get his catches, but he only averages around eight yards per catch.
Which Ram is most likely to have a 1,000-yard season?
The Rams, besides not having a dominant receiver, aren't going to throw the ball enough for any one guy to put up monster numbers. Just listening to Steven Jackson talk about it (via ESPN), the Rams are about to run the ball down people's throat.
"This offense is ground, pound and we’re in your face," Jackson said. "Regardless of how much a team studies about us, they are probably going to be able to tell, out of this formation, this is what they like to run. So now the mentality has gone from trying to be tricky or crafty to more so, 'This is my hole, this is where I’m going, stop me.' Completely different attitude."
This game plan will evolve over time. As Quick becomes an elite receiver, and as the Rams' offensive line gets better, you can expect them to throw the ball more. For now, they will pound teams with the run and they will try to protect Sam Bradford.
So we probably won't have a 1,000-yard receiver this year, but this team is headed in the right direction.
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