It's really pretty inane to speculate on the draft before the deadline for underclassmen to declare has passed. More than one mock for the 2011 NFL Draft was shattered when Stanford QB Andrew Luck made his decision to return to school. Those same mocks were shattered again this week as WRs Michael Floyd and Justin Blackmon made the same decision. From a St. Louis Rams perspective that changed the general notion that they should get a receiver with their first round pick, 14th overall, since it was unlikely there would be a WR available, namely Julio Jones and A.J. Green, worthy of that draft spot.
Not so fast. With more underclassmen announcements coming today and lots of conventional wisdom left to be shaken up, the 13 picks in front of the Rams might open up a renewed hope for one of those receivers, Julio Jones, to be available when the Rams go on the clock.
Mostly what I'm thinking, and this is just pure conjecture, is based on the scramble at QB to fill the void left by Luck. Debate around Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Mallet is heating up. In particular, there is some really good discussion going on about whether or not Gabbert or Newton will be the first QBs off the board. Regardless of which QB is the first to go, it may signal that QB-needy teams picking in front of the Rams will not wait for Luck to come out in 2012.
There are 7 teams picking in front of the Rams that need a QB, with some degree of urgency: Carolina, Buffalo, Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee, Washington and Minnesota. Obviously there aren't 7 QBs worthy of those teams' picks, but it does increase the likelihood of those draft picks being used on those three players...and maybe even Jake Locker if he can redeem himself in the next couple months.
There are also lots of other supremely talented players in the mix for those first 13 spots, one of which is A.J. Green. Nick Fairley, Patrick Peterson, Da'Quan Bowers, Marcell Dareus and Prince Amukamara are the most obvious. The thing is that when you get down to a spot like the 14th, there are a range of players with an equivalent level of talent at their respective positions that could be picked there, which is what makes the guessing game at that spot in the draft so much harder than the first or second pick.
The point here is that if you're anxious for the Rams to get a receiver in the first round, don't panic. Lots of things have to be sorted out between now and late April.