It wasn't hard to find a mock draft this year that had the St. Louis Rams taking a wide receiver. In fact, most of the pundits and a whole lot of fans were hoping to see Clemson standout Sammy Watkins on stage with a blue and gold jersey at the draft. It was a surprise when the Rams didn't take a receiver in the draft at all, a surprise to everyone by Jeff Fisher.
"Anybody that would reference the receiver position as being a need for us, doesn't know what they're talking about," Fisher said last Thursday at an appearance at Edward Jones offices in Des Peres.
Anthony at Rams Addiction was in the audience and on the clock to hear it all, listening to Fisher, Les Snead, Kevin Demoff and James Laurinaitis talk about the team.
Fisher's quip came in response to a question about Brian Quick, Austin Pettis and Chris Givens had done during the offseason so far to improve next year. The coach made the usual talking points dump when it came to his underwhelming group of wideouts.
Quick has shown improvement, Pettis is a good player, Givens is talented, yada, yada, yada. It's nothing we haven't heard before, and not just this year. At least it's a more muted rhetoric than what they were saying in 2012. Remember the next T.O.?
The coach also advised listeners not to forget about Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Of course, we'll have to wait until Week 5 before we can start remembering Bailey, since he's suspended for the first four games of the season. But his 17 catches last season are the most hyped 17 catches in Rams history.
As for Austin, the eighth overall pick in last year's draft did little to live up to the hype during his rookie season. Fisher and his staff teased at secret plans for Austin during the preseason. Those plans yielded 18 catches, 118 yards and 6.55 yards per reception through Austin's first three games. Austin caught 22 passes the rest of the season, topping 50 receiving yards in a game just once.
Some of that has to do with the confusing version of the offense Brian Schottenheimer tried to implement at the start of the year. Some of it looks like a normal rookie adjustment period. But there's also some of it that leaves you wondering. Austin wowed everyone with a 4.34-second 40 at the Combine, but his vertical jump was an underwhelming 32" ditto his 10' broad jump. For all the talk about his athletic ability, he rarely translated it into yards after the catch.
It's still early for Austin and Bailey and most of the other guys too. They have an added advantage of working in an offense that's clearly focused first and foremost on running the football.
Still, Fisher's optimism in his receivers feels more like the result of an internal conversation he's had with himself.