I would like to preface this by saying that Jackson has indicated that he would be fine if Trent Richardson, the running back from Alabama, was the pick and would approach it from a mentor perspective.
Recently the Dispatch ran an interview with Steven Jackson and he endorsed taking Justin Blackmon with the sixth pick. I find myself torn on this. My thoughts after the jump.
That said, I wonder how much faith we can put in this statement. It's been well documented that there was friction between Jackson and Faulk when Jackson was drafted. This is understandable, as Faulk was an older player, albeit one with nothing left to prove, trying to protect his job rather than his accolades. Jackson has come full circle, mirroring the cyclical nature of the NFL itself.
On the one hand, Jackson has a unique perspective. He's witnessed this train wreck from the beginning. He's seen what's been tried, what hasn't (most notably the lack of importance placed on receivers), and everything in between. It's my opinion that guys who are in the league for a long time, especially intelligent ones like Jackson, become sort of coaches and GM's on the field. Certainly the case could be made for Jackson. It's like that age old adage where you know what will work because you are in the midst of it every day at work. Your boss just won't listen.
On the other hand, I cannot get beyond where he's at in his career right now. Certainly, somewhere deep down inside, a deservedly proud man like Jackson can't help but be a bit jealous that a guy like Richardson might have the opportunity to play on a team SJ39 was never allowed. One with a front office that at first glance seems to know what it's about; new, proven coaches, a bevy of draft picks over the next couple of years, and a significantly reduced salary cap offering significant free agent signings. While I'm tempering my optimism, I'm fairly convinced that the Rams will be playing meaningful games by 2014. Which is exactly when Jackson's meter will be running out.
A part of me thinks that Jackson wants the guys who will help RIGHT NOW. Certainly, Justin Blackmon would be an improvement over anyone in the current receiving corps. But will he have (I'm going to use a baseball term here) the value over replacement production in 2014 that Richardson will have? In other words, will Blackmon be better than potential receivers in the next two years that are draftable, as opposed to Richardson vs. Jackson who will probably be gone? I don't believe so.
One other thing to consider. There has been a lot of discussion regarding the relative value of a running back vs. a wide receiver. As you've noticed, WR's were getting signed everywhere,but I've noticed very little free agent movement on RB's. There are of course two ways to look at this. One is that teams simply don't value the RB position as much as they used to. They figure they'll pick one up in the draft. The other is that they don't move because when you get a good one, they don't get away, much like left tackles.
Using the same logic, it could be said that wide receivers are less value. Colston, Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, et. al. They were allowed to hit the market. This indicates to me that a very good RB has more value than a very good (and in Jackson's case, great IMO) WR.
So what do you think? Is he endorsing Blackmon to lessen the competition? Is he sincere when he says that he will be a mentor? Which position is easier to fill, RB or WR? Of course all this is moot if Richardson is gone by six, but that's kind of what we do, right? I'll look forward to your thoughts.
I also wanted to include this link.
I know that the four pillars are no longer an issue at Rams Park. However, this young man is truly someone who thinks about more than just football. That can't hurt.