The St. Louis Rams have searched and searched for a running back, a viable option behind Steven Jackson and perhaps his eventual successor. They may have finally found one, if only he falls to them in the sixth spot in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Here are Lande's exact words, that appeared in his mock draft on Tuesday:
Our sources tell us the Rams' first choice is Richardson.
The wording there makes it sound as though they even prefer Richardson over Morris Claiborne, a bold ranking indeed. I wonder where they have him in relation to Matt Kalil? Of course, it really doesn't matter with Kalil, since he will most likely not be there at No. 6.
Fisher and Brian Schottenheimer have been clear about their desire to start slow with the offense this season. Even if they get one of the top receivers available in the draft, that player would be limited as a rookie in what kind of impact they could have with such a thin position group.
The most telling moment of all came in Snead's introductory press conference, when he told this anecdote about the Falcons getting Michael Turner and Matt Ryan the same year. From my post at the time:
"Let's take Michael Turner," Snead explained when asked about his best player acquisition. "When we signed that player, we knew that we were going to hopefully get Matt Ryan as a franchise quarterback. We also knew that our defense was weak and we didn't have a lot of talented players there, and we only had so many things we could do. So we took the running back that fit a scheme of Mike Mularkey, who wanted a big running back, for a couple reasons: Help Matt out, let him run the ball, play-action pass and try to make our quarterback successful earlier, and No. 2 is keep our defense off the field because they were a weak link."
Bradford is not a rookie, but he is starting life over in a new offensive system and after a really crummy year spoiled by his offensive line and lack of talent at receiver. Fisher can't throw his quarterback to the wolves this soon, not if he hopes to have Bradford really hitting his stride in 2013 and 2014.
As for the part about the defense in Snead's story, the Rams have a much better unit, or at least the nucleus of a better unit. Fixing problems at outside linebacker and finding a run stuffing defensive tackle would go a long way to making it a unit similar to the one we saw in 2010.
All of this depends heavily on whether or not Richardson is available with the sixth pick. Both Cleveland and Tampa Bay could draft him before the Rams get a chance. The wild card may be Ryan Tannehill, who may also give the Rams a chance to trade down from the sixth spot.