St. Louis Rams: The Six Draft Scenarios Facing the Team in 2012
Will we see Andrew Luck in a St. Louis Rams uniform next season? Would the Rams really opt for the Stanford quarterback over incumbent starter Sam Bradford? Or will the Rams simply trade down, keep Bradford and stockpile picks?
These are the questions facing the worst team in the NFL.
I think there are seven different draft-day scenarios that could play out. In any event, as long as owner Stan Kroenke gets rid of current GM Billy Devaney, the Rams have a great chance to improve their roster with this draft.
Here is how things are going to unfold.
The Rams Land the No. 1 Pick, and They Draft Andrew Luck
The Rams are probably going to wind up with the No. 1 overall pick. If you don't believe me, just read this. If the Rams do land the No. 1 pick, what are they going to do with it?
The Rams might decide that Andrew Luck is as good as advertised, and they might say they just can't pass up on the Stanford QB. If they draft Luck, then what becomes of Bradford?
Several teams picking in the top 10 of this year's draft (Washington, Cleveland) loved Bradford coming out of Oklahoma. Cleveland owns two first-round picks. Washington doesn't have the picks this year, but they could package something together that might excite the Rams.
END RESULT: By drafting Luck and trading Bradford, the Rams could hypothetically end up with Luck, Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State) and Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama) in the first round, then add a defensive tackle with the third round pick. Not a bad haul.
The Rams Land the No. 1 Pick, and They Keep Bradford
If the Rams decide Bradford is worth keeping, then they could trade Luck. The overall bounty for trading Luck would be worth a lot more than trading Bradford, because Luck is considered the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning, or perhaps even John Elway.
So the Rams might end up with a first-rounder, a second-rounder and a third-rounder this year, along with multiple picks in next year's draft. This type of haul could vault the Rams into the playoffs in the next two seasons. This is how the Dallas Cowboys built around Troy Aikman, after the acquired so many picks in the Hershel Walker trade.
Again, all of this is contingent on the Rams firing GM Billey Devaney—because Devaney could own 29 picks in this year's draft and still mess it up.
END RESULT: The Rams keep Bradford, trade down and let the Indianapolis Colts have Luck, acquiring a first-, second- and third-round pick this year, along with a first- and fourth-round pick next year. So the Rams end up with Bradford, Matt Kalil (left tackle, USC), a wide receiver in the second round, a starting outside linebacker in the third round and then a couple of good picks next year.
Also, by drafting Kalil at left tackle, the Rams could slide Roger Saffold, a promising young player, to right tackle, and then move Jason Smith, a disappointing young player, to left guard. So, by taking Kalil, the Rams would fill three needs on the offensive line.
The Rams Land the No. 2 Pick, and They Select Matt Kalil
As I just discussed, Matt Kalil would fill three needs for the Rams. By taking Kalil, he would solidify the blind side for the next decade in St. Louis. This would allow Rodger Saffold, a great young player, to play right tackle, where he would dominate. Most importantly, this would move Jason Smith from right tackle to left guard. Smith is a mauling run blocker, but he struggles against edge pass rusher.
So, in a strange way, Kalil would fill three needs for the St. Louis Rams.
Sam Bradford would immediately be better, because he would actually have time to throw the football. The Rams are going to find another tackle to replace Smith. That's a fact. So if Kalil is as good as advertised, then this is a no-brainer pick for the Rams.
END RESULT: The Rams end up with Kalil, a franchise left tackle, and fill three needs on the O-line. Bradford doesn't get the elite playmaker he covets, but at least he has time to throw the football.
The Rams Land the No. 2 Pick, and They Trade Down
If the Rams are picking second, then they are still sitting in prime territory to trade down and stockpile a boatload of picks. The Vikings and a few other teams are very high on Matt Kalil. Who doesn't want a franchise left tackle, right? If Kalil is as good as advertised, then somebody will call the Rams and make them an offer.
Another scenario, and I believe this will happen, involves the Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III. I think RG3 is going to generate a lot of hype at the combine, and some teams is going to fall in love with him. We've seen this happen before, most recently with Mark Sanchez and the Jets. They just couldn't pass up on the Sanchize and traded up to get him.
There are several QB-needy teams picking between 10 and 12, and with Matt Barkley returning to USC, RG3 is really the only other quarterback in this class who has a chance to be elite. Landry Jones of Oklahoma struggled this year, making RG3 even more valuable.
So what if the Redskins, picking fifth or sixth, offer the Rams multiple picks for the chance to move back? If the Rams love Kalil, they might stay put. If they see a little bit of Jason Smith in Kalil, they'll trade back faster than you can say, "Fire Billy Devaney."
END RESULT: The Rams end up with the fifth pick in this draft, along with a second- and third-rounder. The Rams have Bradford, select Justin Blackmon (wide receiver, Oklahoma State), a starting outside linebacker in the second round, and a starting defensive tackle in the third round.
The Rams Land the No. 3 Pick and Select Justin Blackmon
Justin Blackmon is probably at the top of the Rams' wish list. If you pair up Blackmon with current Rams wideout Brandon Lloyd, things might get interesting in St. Louis. Blackmon fills an obvious need, and you couldn't blame the Rams at all if they simply select the player that fills the most glaring need.
END RESULT: The Rams put Lloyd on one side, Blackmon on the other side, with Bradford throwing them the football. Line up Steven Jackson in the backfield, with Lance Kendricks at tight end and Danny Amendola as the slot receiver. This would be the most talent the Rams have had on offense since the Greatest Show on Turf.
The Rams Land the No. 3 Pick and Trade Down
There are two elite receivers in this draft, and a lot of people are actually higher on Alshon Jeffrey. He is taller than Blackmon (6'4" versus 6'2"), and he is a better deep threat. Jeffrey would give the Rams a terrific red-zone target.
Again, there are going to be teams stepping over each other to get to RG3 in this draft. They might be willing to pay a lot to trade up. If the Rams are sitting there picking third, they might say to themselves, Let's trade back to six or seven, because either Blackmon or Jeffrey will be there.
I think this would be a great plan, which tells me that person talking to himself is not Rams GM Billy Devaney—because his plans are usually not great plans.
END RESULT: The Rams trade down and pick up a first- and third-round pick this year, along with a second- and third-round pick. The select Alshon Jeffrey along with a starting outside linebacker and a starting defensive tackle.
The best case scenario would be the Rams land the No. 1 pick, because that would land them the most draft picks in return for any trade scenario. Trading Bradford would give the Rams a lot of picks to play with. Trading Luck would give the Rams a king's ransom of draft picks.
So, if Luck is so highly regarded, then the question really becomes: Is Sam Bradford the type of QB that can lead you to a Super Bowl?
I believe Bradford is a franchise quarterback. I believe he will lead the Rams to the Super Bowl.
So what exactly can the Rams get for Andrew Luck? To give you some context, the San Diego Chargers traded two first-rounders, a second-rounder and a three-time Pro Bowler (Eric Metcalf) for the chance to move up one spot!
Think about that—they gave up all that, to move up just one spot.
If that's what it cost for Ryan Leaf, then what is it going to cost for Andrew Luck? My guess would be two first-rounders (this year's and next year's), a second-rounder (this year), a third-rounder (this year) and two fourth-rounders (this year's and next year's). I could see the Rams getting even more for Luck, simply because there are so many teams picking early in the draft that need a QB.
When these teams start bidding against each other, the price is just going to go up.
So the Rams could really rebuild using that first-rounder (Matt Kalil), the second-rounder (starting OLB), their own second-round pick (WR), the third-round pick (DT), their own third-round pick (RB), the fourth-rounder (OLB) and their own fourth-rounder (TE).
That would set the Rams up to be a lot better team in 2012. Then they could use next year's first rounder (WR), their own first-rounder (CB), their own second-rounder (DT), their own third-rounder (LB), the fourth-rounder (RB) and their own fourth-rounder (DE).
Of course, that's not even counting the Rams late round picks, but by acquiring the "Luck Pick" and trading it, the Rams could set themselves up to be a very good football team in two years. That would begin the "Bradford Dynasty" in St. Louis, where the Rams could be one of the best teams in the NFC for the next decade.