Rams right back on fast track ..
By Dan Arkush
Just one week after getting punched in the gut with the stunning news that Gregg Williams, their new defensive coordinator, was the ringleader in an illegal bounty system in New Orleans that could lead to a lengthy suspension, the Rams picked themselves up Friday evening and completed a blockbuster trade with the Redskins that couldn't have been better-timed.
Working in concert with his longtime chum Mike Shanahan, new Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and new GM Les Snead demonstrated a healthy aggressiveness, picking up three first-round picks (the sixth overall pick this year and Washington's No. 1s in 2013 and '14) for the price of one (the second overall pick this year, which the Redskins are expected to use on Baylor QB Robert Griffin III).
In addition — after considerable prodding, according to sources on the scene — the Rams convinced the Redskins to throw in a second-round pick in this year's draft for good measure.
In one fell swoop, the Rams now have three of the first 39 picks in a draft that just happens to have a ton of high-grade talent at the positions where the team needs the most help.
The PFW spin
So much for being down and out.
Although it wouldn't be right to qualify Williams' likely loss to the team for a significant period of time as "yesterday's news," it's amazing how much brighter the Rams' future suddenly looks just one week after "Bountygate" appeared to put them in a funk that would have been hard to escape from.
Obviously, it didn't stop the team from going all out in an effort to exploit the valuable goods in this year's draft. While they no longer own a top-five pick, there's a strong sense around the league that the sixth overall spot will still deliver an impact player.
There's also a strong sense, though, that the eager-beaver Rams might have only just begun pulling the strings on this year's draft curtain, with enough ammo now to continue wheeling and dealing, and perhaps move back up the first-round ladder a notch or two to possibly land a player like Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon.
The Rams' biggest need is a big-play receiver, and Blackmon, who by all accounts drew strong reviews in his pro day Friday, would certainly seem to fill the bill.
But let's not forget the free-agent X-factor. Is it possible the Rams might continue to strike while the fire is hot and beat all the other WR-starved teams to the punch by signing Vincent Jackson or Marques Colston and use the draft more for their other many needs?
It's worth noting that Snead, who wasted no time coming across as a man of action at this year's Combine, was a key figure in the most eye-popping trade in last year's draft as the Falcons' personnel director. It seems like yesterday when the Falcons raised eyebrows sky-high, moving up in the first round to select Julio Jones, who was widely considered the premier pass catcher in last year's draft crop.
Whatever happens, the Rams are relevant again, establishing themselves as a team determined to go the extra yard necessary to keep pace in the vastly improved NFC West — with or without their new defensive coordinator.