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Thread: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

  1. #1
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    For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options
    By Nick
    4/9/12

    In a recent article for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dennis Manoloff explored the various options that the Browns have with their opening pick in the first round. For each option, he made a case for that option as well as against that option, and then discussed what he thought the chances of that selection were.

    It was an enjoyable article and a fun summary of all of the paths the Browns could take, leading me to explore the Ramsí draft options in a similar manner. For this article, Iíve identified five options for the Ramsí first round pick, sixth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Letís explore them below, and feel free to add your thoughts on each of these options.

    Trade Down
    For: The Rams are a team with a lot of needs. They could use long-term starting options at running back, wide receiver, offensive tackle, offensive guard, defensive tackle, outside linebacker, and cornerback. Despite making a blockbuster deal with the Redskins to move down to the sixth pick overall, the Rams gained only one additional pick in this yearís draft (Washingtonís second rounder). If the Rams want to make the most of this event, they should trade down once more, acquiring more picks and giving them a better opportunity to fill more of their personnel holes. There are plenty of good players that could be had near the end of the Top Ten or even in the 10-20 range.

    Against: If trading down is so great, letís just keep doing it. Maybe we can acquire every pick in the sixth and seventh rounds, and add 70+ prospects to our team. Kidding aside, the further down you trade, the less likely you are to grab an impact player. Thatís not to say impact players donít emerge from later picks, but I think most would agree the odds start to dwindle ever so slightly as you go further down the draft board. The Rams do have a lot of needs, but among those needs is a lack of true impact players. By staying put, they can acquire one.

    Chances: 15%. The Rams will entertain offers as they did for the second overall pick, but theyíre not going to get a mega deal like the one Washington gave up, and ultimately, I think the chances are better that they make a selection with the sixth overall pick.


    Draft Justin Blackmon



    For: Despite the late surge that Michael Floyd is getting among some draftniks, Justin Blackmon remains the top wide receiver prospect for the majority of those who follow the process, and thereís a reason for that. While Blackmon is not the rare physical freak that Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green were, he is very much a total package at the position. He plays bigger than his already solid size and has the kind of explosion that allows him to separate in his routes and rarely get caught from behind. Blackmon is fantastic playing the ball as well as gaining yards after the catch, something the Rams value in a wide receiver. Entering the draft, receiver is arguably the Ramsí biggest need, and when you can address your biggest need with the top prospect at that position, itís a nice match.

    Against: The ďForĒ section helped make this argument Ė Blackmon is not a physical freak in the mold of Megatron or A.J. Green or even Larry Fitzgerald, and those are the kinds of receivers that justify a high first-round pick. He does not have elite size or elite speed. He has shown in the past some issues with concentration as heís dropped some balls. Furthermore, Blackmon comes from a spread offense that could help inflate his numbers at the collegiate level. Heís not going to face the same soft coverages in the NFL that he did at the college level.

    Chances: 30%. Blackmon is the best prospect at the Ramsí biggest position of need. He is considered a Top Ten talent by most, and certainly worthy of the Ramsí selection. Blackmon shows up in big games and is a playmaker in the passing game, something the Rams desperately need, especially after whiffing on any impact free agent receiver signings. The Rams ranked 26th in YAC for receivers in 2011; Blackmon would help turn that around by giving the Rams an explosive, agile weapon who can break a quick slant into a big gain.


    Draft Trent Richardson



    For: Some would argue that Trent Richardson is one of the best prospects in the draft, perhaps behind only Andrew Luck. He is one of the most pro-ready prospects in this class, and is in consideration as a Top Five pick which says a lot in a league where running the ball has taken a back seat to the passing game. At 5í9Ē and 228 pounds, Richardson is a powerful back who is a load to bring down, but he also boasts mid-4.4 speed to break into the second level. Heís a well-rounded prospect, bringing physical blocking skills and soft hands as a receiver out of the backfield to the table as well. While the Rams still have an impact tailback in Steven Jackson, the tread on the tires is starting to wear down, and Richardson would be a nice second punch in a backfield combination before eventually taking Jacksonís lead Ďback role.

    Against: Simply put, the NFL is a passing league. No better example of this could be found than the two contenders for the Super Bowl this year, neither of whom fielded a running back that amassed 200 carries. Effective running backs can be found outside the Top Ten and, more often than not, regularly are. In fact, teams have moved awa from the ďstudĒ running back approach and rarely feed one player 300+ carries as they used to, instead relying on a committee approach that features a combination of quality but hardly elite tailbacks. Runners have shorter lifespans than other prospects as well, so the pick being spent here may not have as much long-term impact as another prospect.

    Chances: 25%. Reasons against the pick aside, Richardson grades out as one of the best prospects in the class, and we know Jeff Fisher is going to want to run the ball. Richardson gives the Rams long-term security at the position, which will help Sam Bradford and the passing game. Many would argue you shouldnít spend this high a pick on a runner unless you think youíre getting the next Adrian Peterson; some believe Richardson is the best prospect at the position since AP. Ultimately though, positional importance and need factors into why Richardsonís chances are less than Blackmonís.


    Draft Morris Claiborne



    For: Jeff Fisher has a history as a defensive backs coach, so you know he can appreciate a prospect like Morris Claiborne. Claiborne teamed with Patrick Peterson at LSU to form one of the best cornerback duos in college football, and after Peterson was selected fifth overall, it looks as if Claiborne wonít be far behind. At 5í11Ē and 188 pounds, Morris boasts good size for the position and excels at a variety of coverage techniques. While he doesnít have blazing speed (4.5 forty @ Combine), his long reach and length allow him to shadow receivers in the manner youíd expect from a shutdown cornerback. As a former receiver, heís comfortable playing the ball but doesnít shy away from contact. Despite the signing of Cortland Finnegan in free agency, the Rams could use another upgrade at cornerback depending on how Bradley Fletcherís health checks out.

    Against: Cortland Finneganís signing in free agency turned the cornerback position from a primary need into a tertiary one. Fletcher is coming back from injury, but he played well prior to getting hurt, and Fisher and company have shown a willingness to entertain injured players returning as starters even when upgrades could be warranted (see: Jason Smith). Claiborne is not a finished product; he has two years of starting experience after minimal playing time as a freshman transitioning from receiver. Some question whether he deserves to be selected as high as former teammate Peterson, who possessed better speed despite being taller and bigger.

    Chances: 20%. Claiborne is the premiere cornerback prospect in this class, and will not make it out of the Top Ten. Heís a possibility as high as third overall to Minnesota, and should appeal to every team right to St. Louis. Despite spending big free agent dollars on a corner, the addition of Claiborne would give the Rams one of the best corner duos in the league. When paired with an emerging Rams pass rush, this could spell a formula for a strong defense, which is what Fisher would like to pair with his offensive approach. Finneganís free agent signing is the primary reason for Claiborne being ranked as the third option here, but if heís available, heíll get strong consideration.


    Draft Another Prospect
    For: While Iíve identified three prospects the Rams will consider with the sixth overall pick, itís always possible that they select someone else at that spot. Letís consider some of those options. While I personally do not agree, there are some that regard receiver Michael Floyd as the best receiver in this class. If the Rams are comfortable with his off the field issues and health, and they prefer him to Blackmon, they could pull the trigger. Defensive tackle remains a need for this team as they search for someone to start opposite of Kendall Langford. Mammoth linemen like Michael Brockers or Dontari Poe could have Jeff Fisher experiencing Albert Haynesworth flashbacks. While the chances are slim of Matt Kalil falling, it is a possibility that could impact the Rams @ sixth overall if heís available. If not, the Rams may still view their line as a priority, considering other tackles like Riley Reiff or Jonathan Martin, or envisioning David DeCastro to fill their gaping hole at left guard.

    Against: The bottom line is that none of these scenarios are all that likely. While some would argue that Floyd possess a higher ceiling than Blackmon due to his physical attributes, he was more inconsistent on the field and has more concerning off the field red flags that also make him a riskier prospect. Brockers and Poe would certainly help clog the inside of the Ramsí defense, but few would make the case that theyíre among the six best prospects in this class, and those who feel strongly about Mississippi Stateís Fletcher Cox would argue that neither Brockers nor Poe are even the best DT. Chances are slim that Kalil makes it by the Vikings, but if he does, other teams could move up to grab him ahead of the Rams, as Cleveland is looking to trade down as well. If Kalil is off the board, the remaining offensive tackles are in a similar boat as the defensive tackles Ė none stand out as being particularly worthy of the sixth overall pick. DeCastro is a great prospect, but even with a new rookie wage scale, can you take an interior lineman that high?

    Chances: 10%. I canít completely rule it out, but taking a prospect with the sixth overall pick who is not named Blackmon, Richardson, or Claiborne seems rather unlikely. It would take a lot of stars to align for Matt Kalil to fall to the Rams, and unless he does, itís hard to make a case for anyone else being good enough value to warrant the selection.

    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Two
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  2. #2
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    Re: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    Fantastic analysis Nick.

    The hardest thing to evaluate of course if the trade down possibility since its unclear who would offer what, which depends in part on what is available when we pick and whether anyone goes nuts for tannehill.

    As much as i would LOVE to have blackmon, my dream scenario, albeit a long shot, would be for someone to pay us enough (ie a #1 next year) to drop down a few spots and still enable us to grab floyd or decastro, who are the only two guys i am really interested in for a trade down scenario. I agree with others that its almost impossible to trade down if you are focused on one or two guys since you dont know what others will go and you can trade back and lose your guy very easily. However, i personally think that as bad as our need is at receiver, the best way to help bradford is with a dominant offensive line to facilitate the best possible running game and the best short yardage situations and i think decastro offers that immediate and substantial boost. If we cant run the ball effectively and protect sammy, i dont care if we draft jerry rice, we are going to struggle badly on offense again.

    The most likely scenario is blackmon and i would be thrilled to have him. My trade back interest gets higher if richardson is sitting there at 6, rather than blackmon.

    I agree that its not likely that someone pays us enough to make it worth it. Mid round picks dont help in this context and i dont think you trade out of an elite player here for even a low #2, but given all our holes and the patience required, a high #2 this year or a #1 next year is something that would work for me if we were only trading back a very limited number of spots.

    To put a final spin on it, i would LOVE to have rueben randle and decastro rather than simply blackmon (and certainly more than richardson). Hope springs eternal!

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel
    Last edited by general counsel; -04-09-2012 at 11:50 AM.


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    Re: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    Great read, thanks for doing the write up. It seems to me that excluding a trade down there won't be as much room for dissension this year. There are 6 blue-chip prospects and the Rams sit at #6. In all likelihood they won't be choosing between any of these players, but rather will pick whichever one is left over. I'd love to have any of them (hoping for Blackmon) so this will be an exciting draft.
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    Re: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    I think if Richardson and Blackmon go 4 and 5 --- Then the Rams would most likely trade down...(more than any other combination of the 4 and 5 pick


    It seems to be a win, win, win -- not all that matters is who do we want, and whats the best deal for Pick #6

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    Re: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    For me, the only scenario in which I wouldn't look to trade down is if Morris Claiborne is there at 6. He is clearly the best CB in this draft, and the only one of the prospects discussed, I think could be an instant pro-bowler on this team.

    Though I'm sure they'd both make an enormous impact, I don't believe Blackmon or Richardson would approach pro-bowl caliber play immediately.

    Besides that, there are several WRs that can be had later in the draft that could potentially have a similar impact as Blackmon.

    And as quiet as it's kept, I don't believe there's that big a difference between Trent Richardson and Doug Martin as some may think.

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    Re: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    Excellent analysis. I must admit that there is not a thing you've written with which I disagree. I must admit several weeks back I was feeling the Rams may favor Michael Floyd over Justin Blackmon based on what each receiver brings to the table, but I now am quite confident that if he falls to us the Rams will select Blackmon.

    16 days and counting...

    Go Rams!

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    Re: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    Very good breakdown.

    I'm on the fence regarding another trade down. As some point, quality trumps quantity. That said, if the Rams could stay in the Top 15 and obtain another Top 50 selection and an extra 3rd round pick, I'd be tempted.

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    Re: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    The trade down scenario is interesting. I guess if it were me I'd wait until draft day and see who the first 5 selections are. Make the decision based on who's available and what offers are coming in.

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    Re: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    I'd trade down if Richardson was the guy to fall to 6. Then I'd hope to pick up either Floyd or DeCastro. Hell, Floyd might not get past 7 so if you want him 6 isn't that big of a jump. Otherwise I'd pick either Claiborne or Blackmon at 6.

    Blackmon's lack of elite measurables don't concern me all that much. For all of Calvin Johnson's elite size and speed it has netted exactly zero rings to this point. Don't get me wrong, it would be nice to have him but it's more about the guy slinging the ball than the guy catching it. Playmakers find ways to make plays. This guy is a playmaker.

    I'd draft Claiborne in a heartbeat. Finnegan is what... 28? By the time Claiborne hits his prime Finnegan will be 30-31. As Claiborne can take over the main coverage duties Finnegan can get into fights with the smaller slot guys. Never underestimate the importance of a great secondary.

    As great as Richardson is, and I think he's a stud, I find it harder to justify taking a RB that high in a passing league. Sure you can win some games with ground and pound but ultimately Sam is going to have to sling it. I'd try hard to trade down here or barring that take Floyd or DeCastro.

    As for other prospects... did I mention Floyd or Decastro yet? I think DT has good value at the top of the 2nd so I'd wait to take one. Reiff could be worth the pick but I'm not sold on the guy.

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    Re: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    I would Take Blackmon if here is there
    I would Take Richardson if here is there
    I would Trade back if Morris Claiborne is there, move back and get another second this year would work well.

    We could add (2) Receivers, OL, DT, all within the second round.

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    Re: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    I would prefer to stay at 6 and take a player, preferably Blackmon or Richardson, but that really depends on the offer to trade down. If the Rams get blown away by a trade offer, then I can understand them taking it.

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    Re: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    One thing that wasn't mentioned on the trade down side is that there often seem to be plateaus within a given draft. In this draft, people talk about there being six "blue chips", and then you've probably another grouping of players that are pretty close in value and then another drop-off. If you buy into the notion that there are six elite prospects in this draft, then we're positioned conveniently on the precipice of one of those drop-offs.

    The fact that there are three players listed here that would be considered worthy of such a high pick, and it's fairly likely that only one of them will still be on the board by the time we pick lends itself to the argument that we would sacrifice a noticeable level of prospect quality by trading out of this position--and more so than if we were trading down within what we perceived to be a plateau in the level of talent available.
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    Re: For & Against: Breaking Down the Ramsí First-Round Options

    I'm generally an advocate of quality over quantity but if the offer is good enough (and it would have to be pretty darn good) I would be okay with it. With the additional picks we would have the ability to trade back up into the first round for our second overall pick if there was someone there who we coveted. If not, we're still able to fill a lot of holes.
    I'm okay whether we stay at 6 or trade down. Either way we improve.

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