St. Louis Rams: Did the Rams Draft the Right Players?
Sam Bradford hooked up with Brandon Gibson for a 23-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Rams' almost-win over Detroit. Bradford's go-to target in the game, Danny Amendola, had five catches for 70 yards.
It has to be be painful for Bradford to look across the field and see his counterpart—Matthew Stafford, another QB that is a former No. 1 overall pick—throw Hail Mary's to Calvin Johnson, the receiver they call "Megatron."
Stafford throws to a cyborg, while Bradford's best receivers are undrafted free agents.
The Rams knew this last year. It's part of the reason Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney, the former coach and GM, respectively, both got fired. Spags and Billy D tried drafting receivers like Mardy Gilyard, Austin Pettis and Greg Salas. They thought those guys would make good targets for Bradford to grow old with.
That's why they don't work here anymore.
So today I want to ask the question, "Did the Rams draft the right guys last April?" Armed with so many picks, and with such a glaring need at receiver, how is it even possible to run out the same group of receivers to start the 2012 season?
We all know how the draft played out. The Rams had the No. 2 pick, teams were drooling over RG3 (who just passed for 320 yards and two TDs as the Redskins upset the Saints, by the way). The Rams traded back to No. 6 overall. The Rams wanted to draft Justin Blackmon, but he went fifth in the draft.
So the Rams, sitting at No, 6, decided to trade back again, this time to No. 14.
Lord knows the Rams needed help at defensive tackle. Watching the Rams try to stop the run last year was unintentional comedy. They made journeyman runners look like Hall of Famers. So when another receiver they liked, Michael Floyd, was picked ahead of them, they drafted Brockers, a defensive tackle.
Brockers looks like a keeper as a run stuffing defensive tackle. I think this was a great pick at the spot where they landed Brockers. Right now he is sitting out with a high ankle sprain, but Brockers looks like a 10-year starter in St. Louis.
The Rams shocked everybody by taking Quick with the No. 33 overall pick. Bottom line, there were "bigger names" on the board when the Rams turned their card in.
What about Coby Fleener, the tight end from Stanford, who went one pick later to the Colts? What about Alshon Jeffery, the big receiver from South Carolina, who at one point was thought to be a better player than Blackmon, the first receiver taken? Jeffery fell all the way to the Bears at No. 45.
The reason I mention those two players is because Jeffery caught three passes for 80 yards and a touchdown as part of Chicago's explosive passing attack. Fleener had six catches for 82 yards for the Colts on Sunday.
Brian Quick didn't even check in the game for the Rams.
Quick is big (6'3", 225 pounds), fast (4.45 in the 40), and as a former basketball star, he has the makings of the type of receiver that could be a dominating physical presence outside the numbers.
But Sam Bradford needs help right now.
If Quick doesn't live up to the hype the Rams' coaches lavished on him, it could end up ruining Sam Bradford. Simply put, the Rams can't afford to develop developmental guys at this point. Bradford is in his third season, and he needs help right now. Fleener or Jeffery, with those numbers, would have been the Rams' best receiver against Detroit in Week 1.
Think about that for a minute.
Instead, the Rams drafted Brian Quick, and he didn't even get in the game.
With an extra pick in the second round, courtesy of the trade with Washington, the Rams drafted Janoris Jenkins. This was a slam-dunk pick in my opinion, because not only was Jenkins a Top-10 talent, but he also filled a position of tremendous need on the Rams' roster.
Jenkins had an interception in Week 1 against Matthew Stafford and Detroit. He looks like a future Pro Bowler, and it would shock me if five years from now we don't look back and say he was the best player the Rams drafted in 2012.
With the No. 50 overall pick, acquired from Dallas as part of the trade to move back from No. 6 to No. 14, the Rams selected Isaiah Pead, a running back from Cincinnati. The Rams have had a huge void behind Steven Jackson on the depth chart for years, so this move made sense.
However, Pead didn't do anything on Sunday against Detroit besides return kicks.
Fellow rookie Darryl Richardson, a seventh-round pick, served as the Rams' backup to Jackson. Pead didn't register a single carry or even check-in at running back. Richardson has been a hidden gem, so that doesn't mean Pead is a bust.
It does mean the Rams might have addressed another need with this pick.
Zach Brown and Lavonte David, both promising outside linebackers, were still on the board. Peter Konz, a starting caliber interior lineman, was also available. The Rams needed starters at all of those spots. Instead they drafted Pead, who would be a backup at best.
Pead didn't even win the backup job. Instead, the Rams used the No. 50 overall pick on a kick returner.
A lot of people were really high on this pick, and I guess you can't ever have too many good cover corners, but this was a head-scratcher to me. Why draft Johnson, another corner, when you just drafted Jenkins and signed Cortland Finnegan as a free agent?
There were several quality linebackers, offensive lineman and even a couple of safeties on the board that, again, might have won a starting job with the Rams. Instead, they drafted another corner? This was a curious move indeed.
This move, in hindsight, is even more curious when you consider that the Rams had Josh Gordy (who played well in 2011), Bradley Fletcher (returning from injury), and Jerome Murphy (returning from injury)—all talented players—on the roster already, along with Jenkins and Finnegan.
The Rams traded Gordy for peanuts, and then flat-out released Murphy. Johnson is the Rams dime corner right now, a minimal role considering the Rams could have used this pick on a starter.
This guy runs like he has a jet pack strapped to his back. Chris Givens can fly.
Givens has a lot of value as a return man, and he stretches the defense as a receiver. He brings speed, an element the Rams' receiving corps severely lacked. Givens will have a role as long as he's with the Rams, even if it's just to be that fourth receiver that goes for a big play or two every week.
I could see Givens eventually becoming a bigger part of the offense, as a dangerous slot receiver that the Rams move all over the place.
Either way, this was a great pick.
If you're going to be bad, why not go ahead and break in a young kicker?
That's what the Rams did with Greg Zeurlein. They drafted the rookie kicker at the top of the sixth round, and Greg "The Leg" has done nothing to disappoint. Zeurlein has range beyond 60 yards, and has been incredibly accurate during his brief Rams' career.
Zeurlein nailed all three of his Week 1 field goals and looks to be the Rams' kicker for the foreseeable future.
The Rams had a glaring need at linebacker. They took a roll of the dice on Aaron Brown in the seventh round. It's hard to call a seventh-round pick a "mistake," because teams are picking from the bottom of the barrel at this point, but Brown did get cut.
So we'll go ahead and say maybe the Rams could have done better here.
Darryl Richardson ran twice for 20 yards on Sunday against Detroit. The seventh-round pick not only made the 53-man roster, but he stole the backup running back job from Isaiah Pead. As the No. 252 overall pick—next to last in the draft—Richardson really looks like a steal.
This was a fantastic pick by the Rams.
Think About It This Way...
You have to look at this "big picture" and "right now."
Maybe Brian Quick will evolve into an All-Pro receiver. Maybe Isaiah Pead is a late bloomer and will end up as the Rams' starting running back one day. Maybe we'll look out there in a few years and see Trumaine Johnson opposite Janoris Jenkins as the starting cornerback.
All I know today is the Rams had three premium draft picks not even make a dent in the box score.
When you lose 27-23, and your best receivers—Amendola and Gibson—combined for nine catches while Brian Quick watched from the sidelines, one thought crosses my mind.
Alshon Jeffery sure would have looked good catching passes from Sam Bradford.