The debate over which player the St. Louis Rams should draft with the sixth pick in the 2012 NFL Draft continues. Nobody has any real indication of who the pick might be. There's Fletcher Cox, who has dominated the conversation and mock drafts in recent days. Trent Richardson was the pick last week, but Cleveland now seems likely to take him.
And, of course, there's always Justin Blackmon, the presumptive favorite since January. He and Michael Floyd are considered the top two receivers in the draft. NFL Draft guru Mike Mayock talked about rookie receivers and the Rams' options in the draft on a Thursday conference call with us media types hanging on his every word.
Mayock, unlike so many others, says the potential second-round receivers look suspect.
In part the issue hinges on a receiver's ability to contribute right away. In the past, receivers took a good three years to get caught up on the pro game. Not so much anymore.
I've always kind of contended that had two biggest issues for rookie wide receivers are No. 1, learning how to get off aggressive press coverage which we rarely see in college; and No. 2 just the complexity of all the routes and the progressions and the hot routes and everything else, I think is a completely different thing mentally and it can slow you down physically. I think they are the two main components.
However, in today's league with the back shoulder, with the outside the numbers play, you can't hit the quarterbacks, we are seeing more and more productive young wide receivers. And it's mostly because we are throwing the ball up for grabs more often.
Because of that, in Mayock's opinion, the difference with first-round receivers is looking for a guy who can make plays. He says that Blackmon, Floyd, Kendall Wright and Stephen Hill are the four players that best fit that description.
And what about the second-round receivers? What's the issue with them?
This year to me, Rueben Randle has some questions; Alshon Jeffrey has some questions; Brian Quick from Appalachian State, you know, he's a height, weight, speed guy with a lot of upside and I don't know whether we are going to see production out of him and maybe he's overwhelmed and Jenkins from Illinois.
In this case, one question the Rams have to answer is just how much they need out of a receiver right now. Plenty of knowing draft experts, not guys like Michael Lombardi but dudes like Greg Cosell, are very high on Randle, though his ability to contribute right away is an unknown.
To me, Jeffery's potential is really intriguing, but he may not be able to contribute in year one. But does it matter for 2012?
It's hard to think of the Rams playing another season with their current group of receivers. The only upgrades so to speak are a healthy Danny Amendola and a maybe guy in Steve Smith. Obviously they're going to lean heavily on the run this year as Bradford gets back in the swing of things. To me, that's also a sign that any young receivers drafted, or even young guys on the roster like Greg Salas and Lance Kendricks, are expected to take some time to get up to speed too.
But with no way of stretching the field, the Rams offense isn't going to be much better than the version we saw in 2010.
So this year I kind of like the first round group more than I like the second round group, and I would kind of bang the table for maybe not necessarily No. 6, although Blackmon fits there, but I think those guys are all legitimate first round picks.
That's Mayock, who echoes the NFL world's lukewarm feelings on Blackmon. Is he enough to make the Rams offense better this year and grow so that when things take a step forward next season and they find another receiver he can help carry the offense?
It isn't the worst plan for getting the Rams offense back to productivity, something that isn't happening overnight. It's not the most exciting plan.