Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Leonard Hankerson could be a Julio Jones consolation prize for the St. Louis Rams.
Tony Pauline of TFY Draft Insider and SI.com dropped a little tidbit of info about the St. Louis Rams draft plans in blog post yesterday. Here's what they had to say about the Rams' plans for the early rounds:
Prior to leaving for Indianapolis sources had told us the team will be targeting receivers and interior offensive linemen with their opening selections and the [sic] [Julio] Jones was a first round target. The Alabama junior may now be out of the teams range.
No shocker there about receivers. It echoes a Combine convo we had with a source who went so far as to call the Rams receivers a four-letter word that starts with 's.' Opening selections obviously means first and second rounds, since those are the first picks the Rams will make. Were Julio Jones' availability with the 14th pick more certain, this would be easy. Jones had to go and screw all that up by reminding teams that he is in fact really, really good.
All is not lost. Jones may be out of the picture, but the Rams could conceivably stick with that whispered early round plan to target a receiver and offensive line help. Of course, it would involve a trade down. Picking later in the first round they could grab Mike Pouncey and, depending on what happens with their second round pick in the wake of trade, they might look to grab a player like Leonard Hankerson, Jonathan Baldwin or Torrey Smith. Second round options on the interior line include Rodney Hudson and Danny Watkins. Hudson might be particularly attractive since he can play guard and center.
As much as I like the blue chip status of Watkins, Pouncey and Hudson, I am still a believer that there's talent to be had in the middle rounds at those positions. Players like Will Rackley, DeMarcus Love, John Moffitt or Tim Barnes look to have solid futures ahead of them on the inside. The Rams don't necessarily need a guard to step in right away. John Greco can handle the work. I had wondered if the Rams were willing to give it to him, but they did tender him an RFA offer.
There's one thing we do know about the Rams draft: with Jones possibly out of the picture at #14, it's wide open. At least there's progress on the CBA front which could give the Rams more options with free agency back in play.