Whether or not the St. Louis Rams pick a receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft remains to be seen. Comments from head coach Steve Spagnuolo yesterday at the Combine shattered the conventional wisdom that the Rams will draft Julio Jones in the first round. The teams drafting in front of the Rams might have something to say about that anyway.
Devaney left open the possibility of the Rams drafting a receiver, based on the team taking the best player available in at whatever pick they have in the draft. Asked by TST whether or not the expected development of players like Donnie Avery and Danario Alexander, Devaney said this:
So if a good player's there at that position, we're not going to say, 'We're set. We'll have all these guys back.' If (a wide receiver) happens to be the best player at that time, then we go with it.
Setting aside the possibility of Jones, I had the chance to talk with some receivers at the Combine today that could be later picks for the Rams in the draft including Leonard Hankerson, Jonathan Baldwin and Jerrel Jernigan. Highlights and thoughts from each one after the jump:
Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh
Baldwin registered some impressive digits here today, measuring 6' 4 3/4" weighing 228 lbs and 10.5 inch hands. Those are great numbers for a receiver, but size has never been the knock on Baldwin. He tried to assure reporters over questions about his consistency and passion for the game with a few deft answers to questions. What, besides size makes him attractive to teams:
I'm fast. I'm smart as well. There's a lot of different things that come with just being tall. A lot of people think if you're
tall you're stiff. I'm athletic. A lot of people that's 6.5, they can't really bend down. I'm flexible. I can do all of those things.
He didn't want to delve into questions about issues with Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt, preferring to answer those privately with teams. What may help Baldwin's draft stock more than anything is his offseason training with Darrelle Revis.
Leonard Hankerson, Miami
Hankerson generated a lot of hype at the Senior Bowl, solidifying his second round status and maybe playing his way into the late first round. His interview revealed very little about that we didn't already know, that he's a hard worker and tries to play a well-rounded game.
Best part of my game is I'm a big receiver, run good routes, go up and catch the ball, catch the ball in traffic, finish...
Hankerson is not quite 6'2", but he's the kind of player who has played taller than his stature.
Jerrell Jernigan, Troy
The Combine is tailor made for receivers like Jernigan. They get to flash elite speed; he expects to run in the low 4.3s. Jernigan compared himself to DeSean Jackson. Comparisons to Jackson have been trading heavy in draft talk this year. Route running is the biggest question mark for Jernigan. as for what kind of WR teams will get with him:
No. 1, they'll get a hard worker throughout, 24-7. I'll do anything to get a win. They'll get a good receiver, special teams and a team player.
Jernigan played QB in high school, and noted that he missed it after converting to receiver. That just means wildcat now, and he has some experience running that. As far as the Rams go, Jernigan probably isn't a fit at this point, that's kind of what they want Donnie Avery to be. Of course, if he represents a legitimate upgrade, the Rams might be willing to take a flyer, depending on their draft board.
All three of these players project as late-first to second round picks. A good Combine could bump their stock.