What impact will WR Steve Smith have on Rams?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

QUESTION: Newly acquired wide receiver Steve Smith was a Pro-Bowl player as recently as 2009 and is still just 26 years old. However, he has been slowed the past two seasons by knee injuries. How much of an impact do you think Smith can have on the 2012 Rams?


Because of the knee problems this is a gamble, but a low-risk gamble for the Rams given Smithís one-year deal. Smith is a smooth route runner and the Rams liked his workout during his recent Rams Park visit. A healthy Smith wouldíve been rated higher than many of the free-agent wide receivers in this yearís market. But how will the knee hold up over the course of a season? Thatís the unknown. Often times, players are much better in the second season after major knee surgery, and Smithís surgery was in 2010. But there are no guarantees. The Rams still probably need to come out of the draft with a couple of receivers.


Because he has been injured for the past two years, it isnít smart to assume that Smith will be the anchor of the receiving corp just yet. Thatís why I fully expect the Rams to draft Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon, if he is still there, with the sixth pick in the first round of the draft. But Smith is a low risk financially and if he stays healthy and returns to his Pro-Bowl level, the Rams offense gets a huge upgrade with his presence.


Negligible. Long odds. Rams are throwing a Hail Mary here, hoping to get lucky. Stranger things have happened. And itís basically a no-risk move.


Rams fans should be wary of comeback cases at wide receiver. Remember the high hopes for Mark Clayton and Danario Alexander? Should Smith have an explosive training camp, fans can become guardedly optimistic about his prospects for 2012. If his knee holds up to the camp rigors and banging around of preseason play, then, OK, consider him a factor. But this franchise has become a place where wounded knees come to die. It is impossible to regard Smith as anything more than a depth guy at this point.


Probably not as much as Rams fans hope or the team needs. First, itís a one-year deal. If the Rams were looking for a big impact and had a lot of faith in Smithís health, they would have signed him for more than one year. Second, my colleague, Jim Thomas, classified him as a possession receiver. Danny Amendola is a possession receiver. Greg Salas was used as a possession receiver. How many of these guys do the Rams need?