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Thursday, June 16, 2011
Where Mark Clayton fits with the Rams

By Mike Sando

The fourth and final item in a series analyzing one player per NFC West team without a contract for 2011.

Mark Clayton, WR, St. Louis Rams

Age: 28

NFL seasons: six

Situation: Clayton was leading the Rams in receptions last season when he suffered a torn patellar tendon. He'll become an unrestricted free agent once the signing period opens.

Mark Clayton
Mark Clayton was enjoying a breakout season until an injury requiring surgery cut it short.
Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.: Clayton is an interesting one because the Rams have a ton of receivers. I don't agree with their quantity vs. quality way of treating the position this offseason, but you cannot do everything, either. If free agency had hit before the draft, maybe they would have spent big on the receivers and not drafted any. That hurt them. What do you do with Clayton? You already have Donnie Avery, Danario Alexander, the rookies, Danny Amendola, Mardy Gilyard. How many receivers are going to make your team? If you are going to add a guy, it has to be a real No. 1 type. I love Clayton. I thought he did really well with Sam Bradford. He is not a burner, he is a little undersized, but he is real quick and has good hands. He is not a No. 1 wideout -- Larry Fitzgerald is the only one in this division right now -- but he would still be the Rams' best guy. His game is built for a dome. He has a relationship with Bradford. I would want to bring him back, but if you sign him, maybe you cut a decent player. You are not going to sign someone above him or trade for a guy. Maybe that is something to deal with next year at this time. Clayton would be wise to go back there. It is a good fit. If Josh McDaniels is going to turn one guy on that team into Brandon Lloyd, it might be him. McDaniels has a good history of getting a featured receiver and escalating his career. Danario Alexander could be that guy, but I am reaching. Clayton has a better shot.

My thoughts: Re-signing Clayton should be an easy call for the Rams as long as Clayton's knee checks out OK. Sure, the Rams would have liked to have added a true No. 1 wideout this offseason, but it wasn't going to happen in the draft. They were picking too late for a shot at A.J. Green or Julio Jones. Going with quantity made sense because, with all due respect to rookies Greg Salas and Austin Pettis, the quality Williamson is talking about wasn't an option. The Rams will need numbers at the position given that so many players have injury concerns. Alexander has had chronic knee trouble. Avery and Clayton are coming off significant knee surgeries. Gilyard underwent wrist surgery and hasn't yet shown he belongs. Laurent Robinson played 14 games last season, but he missed 23 over the previous two. The Rams should bring all these guys to camp, Clayton among them, and then keep the best/healthiest six.