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Monday, May 9, 2011
Where the Rams stand at wide receiver

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Joel from Columbia, Mo., has concerns about the St. Louis Rams' situation at wide receiver. He thinks newly drafted wideouts Austin Pettis and Greg Salas will help, particularly in the red zone, but he still doesn't see a No. 1 receiver on the roster.

Mike Sando: The Rams aren't alone on this front. Back in 2008, ESPN's John Clayton pointed to league-wide troubles in developing true No. 1 receivers.

In the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks have tried to revive Mike Williams' career, with some success. Is he a true No. 1 wideout? Not from a speed standpoint. The Seahawks have not placed a receiver in the Pro Bowl since Brian Blades qualified in 1989 (Alex Bannister made it on special teams more recently). The San Francisco 49ers used a top-10 draft choice for Michael Crabtree recently, but the team hasn't had a Pro Bowl wideout since Terrell Owens in 2003.

The Rams did the best they realistically could have done in the 2011 draft. Taking a receiver at No. 14 wasn't realistic given how teams and analysts rated the prospects available at that point. Moving up eight spots to select Julio Jones at No. 6 wasn't going to work; Cleveland enticed the Atlanta Falcons to jump 21 spots for the choice, and at a high price.

The Rams did use their second, third and fourth picks for pass catchers. New coordinator Josh McDaniels has gotten good production from players with questionable pedigrees. Brandon Lloyd put up No. 1-receiver numbers for Denver in 2010. But others share your concerns, Joel.

"I am all about drafting for value and they did it with Robert Quinn in the first round," Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said, "but in the end, you have seven wideouts for 5-6 spots and you still don't have a No. 1. When analyzing how they picked, you can't be critical. I'm just not sure you are any better at receiver."

Growing the depth at receiver at least gives the Rams a larger, healthier and younger pool from which to draw. Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton are coming off serious knee injuries, as is developmental receiver Dominique Curry. Danario Alexander has long-standing knee issues. Laurent Robinson missed two games last season and has missed 25 over the past three. Brandon Gibson has missed time and has yet to show consistency. Mardy Gilyard's career has yet to get going.