St Louis Rams: Tough Decision As To Who Replaces WR Mark Clayton After Injury

Bear HeiserFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2010

St Louis Rams: Tough Decision As To Who Replaces WR Mark Clayton After Injury

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    Just as things were starting to look up for the Rams, they lose another WR for the entire season!

    First, it was Donnie Avery (ACL) back in the preseason. 

    Then, injury struck Dominique Curry (ACL) in Week 3.

    And most tragic of all, Mark Clayton in Week 5.

    Currently, the Rams have four WR's on their active roster. See below for names+career stats.

    Danny Amendola: 76 receptions, 629 yards and one TD in 19 games

    Brandon Gibson: 42 receptions, 465 yards and two TDs in 12 games

    Laurent Robinson: 60 receptions, 689 yards and three TDs in 27 games

    Mardy Gilyard: 5 receptions, 42 yards in 5 games

    Total: 183 receptions, 1825 yards and six TDs in 63 games

    Just a quick little fun fact for you. 

    Mark Clayton has played in more games, caught more passes, accumulated more yards and scored more TD's than all four remaining Rams WRs combined. 

    Clayton's career stats:

    257 receptions, 3422 and 14 TDs in 81 games

    The Rams are stuck fighting an uphill battle the remainder of the season.

    They need help, but where will it come from?

    Keep reading for a slide show of options for the Rams.

Rams WR Danario Alexander

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    Former Missouri Tiger and current Rams practice squad player, Danario Alexander

    **Former Missouri Tiger star Danario Alexander was signed to the Rams active roster on October 11th, 2010 off the practice squad.

    Alexander signed with the Rams on August 22, 2010 after being undrafted.

    He was one of the last players to be cut from the Rams training camp roster but was signed to the practice squad shortly after.

    Alexander was ranked in the top five of all three major categories for a WR during his senior season at Missouri.

    113 receptions- 2nd in NCAA 

    1,781 yards- 1st in NCAA

    14 touchdowns- 4th in NCAA

    His brilliant college season went to waste when he injured his left knee during Senior Bowl week. 

    The injury required surgery, and knocked him out of the NFL Draft Combine and his pro day. 

    Injuries have plagued Alexander his entire career. The guy has had four surgeries on his left knee and he's only 22 years old. 

    A quick little FYI to the Rams front office:

    Three WRs have been lost to knee injuries in 2010. Don't count on a guy like Alexander who has had nothing but knee problems throughout his career to step in a contribute on a week to week basis.

    If Alexander not had injury after injury, he probably would have been drafted and not grinding it out on the Rams practice squad. 

    On the bright side, he is 6-5, which makes him the Rams tallest WR by three inches. Could he be the deep threat the Rams have been looking for?

Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith

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    Panthers WR Steve Smith hasn't played a full season since 2005Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    It seems like Panther WR Steve Smith's better days are behind him unlike New York Giants WR Steve Smith, whose better days are in front of him.

    The only reason I bring up Smith's name is because he is coming off an injury and the Panthers are terrible and rebuilding. Or they are terribly rebuilding, I'm not sure which is better or worse for that matter.

    Ok enough nonsense!

    Smith has been an All-Pro three times and a Pro Bowler four times.

    The last truly great season he had was back in 2008 when he caught 78 passes for 1421 yards, six TDs and a whopping 18.2 yards per catch.

    He's missed games due to the following injuries:

    A Concussion, an ingrown toenail, a hamstring, a broken left forearm, another broken arm, this year's injury is an ankle.

    The above injuries have forced him out of seven games to date. Smith is said to return to action after the Panthers bye in Week 6.

    I have failed to mention that Smith has been involved in two very serious altercations with his teammates in Carolina. The first time it happened he was arrested and the second time he was suspended. 

    There is no doubt in my mind that the Panthers would be willing to trade Smith.

    What would they want? I really don't know. The market leads me to believe that he can be had for a mid-round pick.

    Smith is definitely in the top 10 WR's of the last 10 years, but the fact that he's already done it for 10 years should tell you that the clock is ticking. 

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Mike Sims-Walker

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    Jags WR Mike Sims-Walker has been a huge disappointment in 2010Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Fun fact about Mike Sims-Walker:

    MSW has never played for a football team outside the state of Florida. He played his high school ball at Edgewater High in Orlando, his college at Central Florida and was then drafted by the Jags in 2007.

    In 2009, MSW was the Jags leading WR with 63 receptions for 869 and seven TD's. 

    Through five games in 2010, statistics show that he's become the teams third pass catching option behind Mike Thomas and TE Marcedes Lewis. 

    MSW caught zero passes in Weeks 1 & 4.

    Clearly frustrated, he took to the media to voice his frustration, which has led to all the trade speculation.

    Jags coach Jack Del Rio has been adamant in saying that MSW will not be traded.

    "I actually called out one of the people that was involved in some of that being spread because that's garbage," Del Rio said, per the Associated Press. "False, not credible and it's disappointing to see stuff like that just go out be thrown out there haphazardly without anybody checking any sources. I'm disappointed that something like that would be out there for us to discuss. He's done a great job of continuing to play. ... We like the way he's working. There are no issues here. There are some being manufactured outside the building."

    Coaches have lied before and coaches will lie again. Mike Sims-Walker may not be available right now but tomorrow's a new day.

2011 NFL Draft

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    Georgia Bulldog WR AJ GreenKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    In 2010, only four WRs were selected in the first two rounds. Listed below are the top four WRs who are eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft.

    Julio Jones: Alabama, 6-4 211 pounds, 4.49 40-yard dash

    A.J. Green: Georgia Bulldogs, 6-4 208 pounds, 4.48 40-yard dash

    Jonathan Baldwin: Pittsburgh, 6-5, 224 pounds, 4.48 40-yard dash

    Greg Little: North Carolina, 6-3 210 pounds, 4.58 40-yard dash

    All four players listed are taller than every Rams WR except, newcomer Danario Alexander(6-5).

    The Rams are likely to have a top 15 pick when it's all said and done. They should be able to snatch up a top prospect.

Reality for the Rams

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    Rams WR Danny Amendola has become a favorite target of QB Sam BradfordElsa/Getty Images

    Let's be real here for a second.

    The Rams aren't going to make a big splash via trade. They aren't going to trade for underachieving wideout Lee Evans. They aren't going to trade for the DUI prone Vincent Jackson.

    Why would they?

    They caught lightning in a bottle once with Mark Clayton, there's no sense in leveraging any more of the future to maybe win now. 

    Yes, the Rams are 2-3 and only one game back of division leading Arizona, but what kind of chance do they have with their current group of WRs?

    To be frank, the answer is very little. 

    Even when Mark Clayton was in the lineup, the Rams lacked a deep threat.

    They don't have a Randy Moss, a Calvin Johnson or even a Steve Johnson for that matter.

    *Steve Johnson plays for the Buffalo Bills and has four TDs in 2010

    Heading into the season, Danny Amendola was supposed to be the teams primary slot WR. Now he's the Rams top receiving threat? Something about that doesn't seem right.

    Amendola leads the Rams with 33 receptions. Other than Mark Clayton(23 receptions), no other player has anywhere close to Amendola.

    TE Daniel Fells is next on the list with 14 receptions, then Brandon Gibson with eight. 

    To me, Brandon Gibson is the Rams best option to fill in for Clayton. He's tall, strong and fast but has shaky hands. 

    Danario Alexander has never been able to stay healthy. Maybe this time around things will be different and he will return to the form that made him one of the best WRs in college football in 2009.

    The Rams should look to bolster it's receiving core through the 2011 NFL Draft. So far, it looks like a deep class of pass catching talent.

    Regardless of what happens, it will be interesting to see who lines up where in Week 6 against San Diego. 

    Please share your thoughts on the Rams WR situation in the comments section below.

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