Breath in, breath out. "Goosfraba." Those are my best words of wisdom as patience turns to anguish, otherwise known as sports without football. It does not pass swiftly, but, fortunately, it comes in moderation. For fans of "America's game," between-season accolades are part of the ritual. First comes free agency, then the draft and, finally, training camp - each the best in professional sports.
Congratulations, you're half way through the long haul! In only ten more days, every football fan's favorite off-season spectacle will begin. Certainty for the Rams regarding trade opportunities, favored prospects and greatest needs may no longer exist. If you haven't yet given up hope for pre-draft speculation, you will enjoy this...
2012 boasts one of the deepest WR classes that the draft has seen in a long time. The Rams will bring in seven of the crop's top prospects for a visit. NFL.com's Gil Brandt calls Justin Blackmon a "smaller version of Michael Irvin," while he believes Michael Floyd has "a little more upside." Rueben Randle could be a target early second round.
ESPN's NFC West blogger doesn't seem at all conviced that the Rams would make a move for Cleveland's fourth selection. He believes that they can easily sit back and wait for whichever of the draft's "top six" falls to them. Justin Blackmon is the player at whom Sando looks closest; citing the Rams' greatest need at WR and believing the two-time Biletnikoff winner is the most likely to fall. However, what if the Rams are interested in moving for another player, notably Trent Richardson or Matt Kalil?
Interior linemen have riddled the Rams and their draft plans for years. Actually, since moving to St. Louis, they have drafted only one who has panned out "long-term." :Richie Incognito. Barring another trade down, the Rams are unlikely to draft a guard in the first round, but Stanford's David Decastro is a name to keep your eye on. Many others will be in play for round two.
Bradford has loads of potential - everyone knows that - but does he have the upside to join the ranks of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady? HC Fisher and some of his associates believe he has the capability. I certainly agree, but he needs more weapons to get there.
This is a good assessment of what many fans would assume to be the Rams' pre-draft thinking, including many links to positional rankings and mock drafts. Sporting News ranks the Rams top four needs as WR, LT, DT and OLB.
To the surprise of no one, Steven Jackson is not yet advocating for his future replacement. Instead, he hopes that the newest star Ram will be a big play receiving threat, most notably Justin Blackmon. He thinks an outside complement for Danny Amendola is the way to go and that QB Bradford needs another target.
Here is a nice, rather long video of a face-to-face chat between the Rams' Nick Wagoner and a former NFL general manager. How will the Rams head into the draft and what are their best options? Casserly calls defensive tackle the deepest position in the draft. He also "loves Sam Bradford."
Singe being cut by St. Louis, center Jason Brown has received some notable interest around the league, though no offers comparable to the deal which he signed in 2009. He is said to be weighing options until after the draft, likely seeking his best opportunity to reestablish a staring role. The San Francisco 49ers are in the mix.
Have you ever shouted obscenities, thrown a beer can at a rival fan's head or streaked across mid-field at the Edward Jones Dome? If yes, this article is for you. Disruptive and ejected fans may now be forced to pass an ethics test that makes the DMV seem like Chuck E. Cheese's before being allowed to return to NFL games. I wonder if Ticketmaster has recieved the "forbidden list?" More from NFL.com here.
This is another quick glimpse at all the top-tier WRs who will be on the Rams' radar. Jim Thomas sees good value all the way through round four. A couple players not to overlook are Appalachian State's Brian Quick and Illinois' A.J. Jenkins.
Very few will question the Florida/North Alabama prospect's talent, though some are concerned with his character. In fact, some teams may not take a chance on the troubled cornerback prospect should he fall to them. Others, while they acknowledge his talents, still are wary. If Jenkins were to fall to round two, Jeff Fisher may be just the man to take a chance on him (See: Adam "Pacman" Jones).
As one man falls, another must rise, or something like that. In the case of Jenkins, that man is Stephon Gilmore. A one time hopeful for Ram fans in the second round, Gilmore has not stopped climbing the draft boards since January and is now seen as one of the best players available. Morris Claiborne isn't sweating, but those who want Gilmore in horns surely are.
So, finally, with time winding down, there is only one matter on your mind: Who are the Rams going to take first in this month's draft? Face it; you don't know, and neither do I. With the first two picks all of 99.9 percent certain to be quarterbacks, the Rams will be guaranteed to land one of their most coveted and needed prospects. Unfortunately, circumstances are not under their control.
NBC Sports was just so kind enough to speculate picks three through five, nearly debunking the case of the Rams' first round pick. In the end, reviews are sure to be mixed, but surprises will be bountiful.
Hang in there, Ram fans.