It's going to be an interesting offseason for the St. Louis Rams. Coaching changes, front office changes, free agents, the months between now and the first of May will have more drama and stories than you can imagine. Of course, the 2012 NFL Draft is in there too, which most of you are already thinking about, even with two games left to play.
Out of all the positions to target, the Rams really need to come away from the next draft with a blue chip offensive playmaker, at least one. Hopefully, the conditions will exist for that player to make an impact right away, even without hitting their peak, but we've been nailed by the expectations before.
I wanted to quickly point out a 2012 NFL Mock Draft from Optimum Scouting because I like the direction it takes for the Rams.
In the first round, they have the Rams picking third, where they will likely pick based on the way the season looks to play out over the last two weeks. And with that pick the Rams select...
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Adding Brandon Lloyd doesn't take this team out of the receiver mix at the top of the draft. If Sam Bradford is to be their franchise quarterback, they'll really need to give him weapons, as he needs talent around him more than some young quarterbacks to be successful. Blackmon is a bit of a risk, but if Josh McDaniels sticks around as the offensive coordinator, he could view Blackmon as a better version of a first rounder he took a few years back, the raw DeMaryius Thomas of Denver.
At this point, Blackmon looks like the best receiver in the class, a draft class not exactly brimming with receivers. Trading down would still be the best option, because Blackmon is not as good of a player as Julio Jones or A.J. Green, and taking him with the third pick would be a bit of a reach.
And in the second round, this mock has the Rams picking...
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
The Rams have already been rumored to be "clearing house". If that's the case, Stephen Jackson is likely the first one gone. Miller is a fringe 1st rounder himself, and a potential feature back.
I love, love, love this pick, but it's possible Miller goes in the first round. The Rams should have taken a running back last year, and Miller still makes sense if Steven Jackson sticks around in 2012.
Miller's speed, 4.3 speed, is one thing the Rams offense so desperately missed these last few seasons. Witness their attempts to run on the outside against Cincinnati last week, when the speed of the Bengals defense made it all but impossible to convert on those (not that the Rams didn't keep trying in the face of sheer futility).