The Rams could be faced with a problem when they’re on the clock with the sixth overall pick, but it’s a problem most teams would enjoy.
Justin Blackmon could very easily fall into St. Louis’ lap, and his brief descent out of the top five is dependent on the direction taken by the Browns, and to a lesser extent the Vikings, who are busy trying to convince the world that they’ll draft someone not named Matt Kalil. With his combination of size and speed, Blackmon is almost unanimously viewed as the best receiver in this year’s draft. After the departure of Brandon Lloyd, Sam Bradford needs a dynamic target, and someone to play A.J. Green to his Andy Dalton.
Blackmon is certainly the man for the job, but in a deep draft at the wide receiver position, the gap between the WRs available early in the first round and the names that will still be on the board in the second round may not be a massive chasm.
Their trade with Washington gave the Rams three picks in the top 40, two of which are in the first seven picks of Day 2. Sure, there’s clearly a step down when Player A is selected over 25 picks later than Player B, but quality receivers like Reuben Randle, Stephen Hill, and Alshon Jeffrey should still be on the board for the Rams early in the second round. So it could be wise to use that No. 6 pick to address another need if the opportunity presents itself.
Still, Blackmon’s physical tools may make him far too tempting. We talked to Eric Nagel, an editor at Turf Show Times, and he tossed out another strong possibility for the Rams and their new head coach who’s never drafted a wide receiver with a top 15 pick.
1. I’ll get the obvious question out of the way first. If Blackmon is available, he’s the Rams’ pick, right?
It’s pretty insane to think the Rams wouldn’t add someone to help Bradford with their top pick. However, the Rams have so many holes they need to address that it could very well end up being someone other than Blackmon. If there is other prospect to look out for, it’d be Fletcher Cox; Jeff Fisher is someone who likes to add defensive lineman in the draft and Cox would fit opposite the newly acquired Kendall Langford.
Still, passing on a receiver here is a huge gamble.
2. It’s seems unlikely, but not overly absurd to imagine both Blackmon and Morris Claiborne available to St. Louis if Cleveland takes a risk on Ryan Tannehill. Is Blackmon still the pick in that scenario? Cornerback isn’t a strong need, but Claiborne’s talent may be too difficult to resist.
On a talent standpoint, I believe Claiborne is better than Blackmon. In a perfect world, Bradley Fletcher and Jerome Murphy would return from injury and play well enough to make cornerback a secondary concern. On the other hand, Fletcher has torn his ACL two years in a row and Murphy is too inexperienced to be counted on. Adding a player like Claiborne opposite Cortland Finnegan would solidify the secondary for years. That isn’t exactly something the Rams would want to pass up.
3. Another potential scenario is a slight tumble by Trent Richardson that lands him in St. Louis’ lap. Would he also be a no-brainer pick if that happened? Or would there be some hesitation given the presence of Steven Jackson? He’s aging, but isn’t quite done yet.
This would be a dream-come-true scenario for the Rams. Richardson, as we’ve all heard, is the most complete back to enter the draft in a few years. Pairing him with Steven Jackson would give the Rams a hell of a duo. Jackson has had some nagging injuries in the past few years, so adding someone like Richardson could really prolong his career. In my opinion, if he’s available, he’s the pick.
4. What about beyond the first round? What positions will the Rams be targeting in the mid to late rounds?
I think the second round really depends on who the Rams pick at No. 6. They have a few different options, so they might try and take a chance on a player who has some character issues. Look for the Rams to add a guard or two in the later rounds, some defensive options like a linebacker or safety, and a punter after losing Donnie Jones in free agency.