LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Matt Kalil #75 of the USC Trojans speaks to reporters after his blocked field goal in the final seconds of the game preserved a 17-14 win over the Utah Utes at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
My new 2012 NFL Mock Draft is out over at SB Nation. I'm fending off hate mail as we speak. As for the St. Louis Rams, there are really only a few ways things could go in the draft this year, with trading down looking like the preferred option at this point.
All of that depends on what the new head coach, Jeff Fisher, thinks. He can get an impact player with the second overall pick, and the team doesn't have to pay an arm and a leg like they used to for drafting in that spot. For an example of how costly the second pick can be, look no further than the albatross that is Jason Smith's contract.
For this mock draft, the Rams went with...
Matt Kalil, OT, USC
I'm already getting angry responses on this one, and I understand. I myself prefer the idea of drafting a wide receiver here, given just how miserable the Rams have been at that position since Torry Holt left.
But this season exposed a pair of needs for the Rams. If they have any hope of getting Sam Bradford's career back on track, they need to find wide receiver AND offensive linemen. Right now, the Rams have a mediocre Rodger Saffold and Harvey Dahl, who can be a guard or a tackle. Jason Smith suffered his third concussion, and there was no difference in play when Adam Goldberg took over for Smith on the right side. Let me put that in mathematical terms:
Adam Goldberg($810K million salary) = Jason Smith($10 million salary + pro rated bonus money).
Drafting Kalil gives the Rams a player who projects as a top-tier left tackle at a rate well below what they would pay in free agency. Over and over again people tell me that the Rams should just find line help in free agency, but that costs money, money that the Rams don't have this season (the $40 million cap figure comes into play in 2013).
There's a ray of hope that they could re-sign Brandon Lloyd, based on his comments about the Fisher hire and New England's tight financial situation with Wes Welker likely to get the franchise tag ($9 million+) or a contract extension. If the Rams do keep Lloyd, they still to add receiver talent, preferably the best they can get/afford.
That's what trading down is really the preferred option ... if only it's possible. Remember, some team wanting Robert Griffin III can box the Rams in and make a deal with Minnesota at #3.
We'll see what happens.