NFC West: Kenny McKinley
The pairing makes sense on multiple levels.
The Rams do need help at wide receiver. They could use a legitimate No. 1 wideout to build around. They need weapons in general as they build around quarterback Sam Bradford. And if Jones were available at No. 14, he might represent strong value as well.
Jones is a huge receiver. Alabama lists him at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds. Every team in the league could use a talented receiver with such impressive size.
The Rams in particular could favor bigger receivers now that Josh McDaniels is their offensive coordinator. The chart shows every wide receiver McDaniels' teams have drafted since he cracked the NFL with New England a decade ago. A few observations:
- The receivers averaged about 6-1 and 208 pounds even with the diminutive Deion Branch factoring into the equation. Branch, at 5-9 and 195 pounds, was the exception. Seven of the nine receivers on the list were at least 6 feet tall.
- McDaniels had control over personnel during his two seasons with Denver. The team drafted three receivers during those years. All three were at least 6 feet tall. Two of the three stood 6-3 and weighed at least 220 pounds.
- The Broncos drafted two receivers in the first three rounds under McDaniels in 2010.
- The Rams' general manager, Billy Devaney, has never been with a team that used a first-round choice for a receiver. It's no given the Rams will draft one in the first round. McDaniels' teams have used one first-rounder for a receiver.
- On a side note, McDaniels gets credit for helping receiver Brandon Lloyd enjoy a breakout season with the Broncos in 2010. Perhaps McDaniels can help one of the Rams' current receivers enjoy similar success. Lloyd's contract expires after the 2011 season. Also, Devaney was part of the San Francisco 49ers' front office when the team made Lloyd the 124th player drafted in 2003.
- The Patriots have had more misses than hits at receiver over the years. McDaniels' history with the team doesn't reflect well on anyone's ability to evaluate the position.
- Size trumps speed in looking at the receivers in the chart below. In some cases, the Patriots valued players for getting in and out of their breaks -- think Branch -- over straight-line speed.
I'll be ramping up draft-related coverage as the week progresses. Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. has been studying the college players closely. We'll turn our attention to the NFC West in our next conversation, coming up soon.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
I've broken out Scouts Inc.'s projected picks for the 49ers as the NFL draft countdown continues.
The Scouts Inc. mock sent Mississippi tackle Micheal Oher to the 49ers at No. 10 even though Steve Muench, who works for Scouts Inc., had some reservations about the choice.
The 49ers do need a tackle, but two in the first three rounds?
If the 49ers draft a receiver at No. 111, they'll buck a 15-year trend; general manager Scot McCloughan's teams haven't used a fourth-round choice on a receiver since he entered the NFL in 1994.
I sent Oher to the 49ers with the 10th overall pick in our bloggers' mock draft, but I would prefer to write that one in pencil. The 49ers figure to have options.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams could use defensive tackles, but the team does not appear interested in Boston College's B.J. Raji. Thomas: "There has been next to nothing in terms of hints that the Rams are interested in Raji. Perhaps most telling was the fact that he was not invited to Rams Park last week for a pre-draft visit. About half the projected first round was invited among the 23 players at Rams Park, but not Raji." General manager Billy Devaney says the Rams have a "zero tolerance" policy for players convicted of crimes or known to be involved with illegal substances. Sports Illustrated retracted a story claiming Raji had failed a drug test at the combine.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams legend Deacon Jones used the word "asinine" to describe the team's failure to retire his jersey number.
Mike Garafalo of the Newark Star-Ledger profiles Rams general manager and New Jersey native Billy Devaney, who once told Don Shula he would play in the NFL. Devaney was wrong, of course. He would become a baggage handler at Newark Airport before breaking into the NFL as a scout for the Chargers in 1990.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams are valuing their scouts' opinions more heavily.
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt gives the team needed credibility. Bickley: "Look at Rod Graves. The compliant general manager is sitting at a table softly explaining his draft philosophies, and given his record at this sort of thing it is a sight that should strike terror in the hearts of all Cardinals fans. But they are calm because Whisenhunt is sitting there, too, and somehow, he'll figure it out."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Whisenhunt as saying NFL teams have a relatively easy time evaluating defensive linemen. There simply aren't as many good ones as teams would prefer, and so sometimes teams reach for them in the draft.
Also from Somers: The Cardinals denied reports they have asked for first- and third-round draft choices in return for receiver Anquan Boldin.
More from Somers: Highlights from a pre-draft news conference featuring Whisenhunt and Graves.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com quotes Whisenhunt as saying the Cardinals are not "proactively" trying to trade Boldin.
Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune thinks the Cardinals should trade up in the draft to select running back Knowshon Moreno, even if it means parting with a third-round choice. I think Arizona can probably find a starter at No. 31.
Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind says the Cardinals might need to consider drafting an inside linebacker given Karlos Dansby's apparent desire to hit the market after the 2009 season.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' plans for the second through fourth rounds of the draft could mean more than what they do with the 10th overall choice.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee sent Brian Orakpo to the 49ers at No. 10 in a mock draft for the Sporting News.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times quotes Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter as saying Seahawks coach Jim Mora has a "man crush" on receiver Michael Crabtree.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune doesn't expect the Seahawks to draft an offensive lineman in the first round.
Also from Williams: He checks in with Rob Rang for a round-by-round list of running backs and tight ends the Seahawks might consider in the draft. Receivers: Michael Crabtree, Hakeem Nicks, Mike Wallace, Kenny McKinley, Brandon Gibson, Markko Mitchell and Quan Cosby. The tight ends: Brandon Pettigrew, Jared Cook, James Casey, Richard Quinn, Cameron Morrah, Kory Sperry and Jared Bronson.
John Morgan of Field Gulls sizes up the Seahawks' needs at fullback. He calls Owen Schmitt a "highlight-reel" run-blocker, although it's a pretty short reel at this stage of Schmitt's career.
Also from Morgan: Seahawks center Chris Spencer isn't as bad as advertised, but he might be injury prone. Morgan looks at centers available in the draft.
Michael Steffes of Seahawk Addicts doesn't expect the Seahawks to draft Eugene Monroe after reading that Seattle was one of two teams not to attend the Virginia tackle's pro day.
Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts breaks down at which point each Seattle player was drafted.
Clark Judge of CBSSports.com considers the Seahawks' decision with the fourth overall choice pivotal to how the draft will fall.