Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Scout's take: Where Rams stand in draft
By Mike Sando
We're back to where this 2012 NFL draft discussion began, with the St. Louis Rams.
The team needs a No. 1 wide receiver, a difference maker. Justin Blackmon could be the choice. But what if tackle Matt Kalil or even running back Trent Richardson were available? Cornerback Morris Claiborne?
"Kalil has to be the pick if he's there," Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. said during our final NFC West conversation Tuesday.
Sando: The Rams recently reworked Jason Smith's contract in a manner that makes him the projected starting right tackle. Left tackle Rodger Saffold could conceivably play guard if Kalil were the choice. But the need for a top wide receiver is arguably greater.
Muench: Last year, A.J. Green went fourth and Julio Jones went sixth. I don't think Justin Blackmon is as good as either of those guys. But he separates better than Michael Floyd, and is better after the catch as well. Six is a little early. You can't ignore positional value.
Sando: The Rams do hold the 33rd and 39th picks, so they've got options.
Muench: This offensive tackle class is not as deep as the wide receiver class. You can find receiver help atop the second round better than you can find tackle help. Let's say they take Blackmon at No. 6. Mike Adams might be there in the second round, but he has issues. He is one of those guys who is off and on.
Sando: Why do you feel so strongly about Kalil?
Muench: There have been a number of sources coming out who are down on Kalil, four or five people we have talked to. I'm not backing off. They question his leverage, his run blocking, his ability to roll his hips and generate power that way. But to me he is the best left tackle in this class, a Day 1 starter, and he is going to help someone a lot. Again, I like Justin Blackmon and understand they want to get a playmaker at wide receiver, but you can wait and still find a guy to help you there.
Sando: The assumption here is that St. Louis stays at No. 6. We'll have a better idea once we see which players are available when the Rams select. Having two top players available unexpectedly would give the Rams flexibility.
Muench: They're in a great spot. I don't see how it unfolds where they don't get a good player. Richardson is going to go before the Rams pick. It could come down to Kalil or Blackmon. Either way, they will get a guy who helps their team. If Tampa trades ahead of Cleveland to get Richardson, then Cleveland possibly takes Claiborne. Minnesota would take Kalil and the Rams wouldn't have to make the choice to take Blackmon. Tampa is in one of the more interesting positions. The worst-case for Tampa is Claiborne going to Minnesota and Richardson to Cleveland. Then they're the one in a jam near the top.