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2011 NFL Draft: Let the Rams first round receiver speculation begin

The 2011 NFL Draft order is set, for the St. Louis Rams anyway who have the 14th pick. Whether the Rams end up taking a receiver or not remains to be seen, and given the time between now and the 2011 NFL Draft, you can be sure that the picture will change much between now and then. 

One thing that likely won't change is every mock draft giving the Rams a wide receiver with their first round pick. The erratic ability of the receivers this year, particularly last night's performance that featured painful dropped pass after dropped pass, has made that position the Rams' top priority for offseason upgrades. 

And with that, let's take a look at the first mock draft of the Rams' offseason and see who the receiver du jour is.

This mock draft comes from SBNation's own draftnik crew. The Rams, with the 14th overall pick select: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Like I said, the reasoning offered for the pick is all about a team need that was made obvious with each missed opportunity and the stunted offense. As for the Floyd pick itself, well, you have to like the idea of a guy with solid hands suiting up for the Rams at wide receiver. Speed is Floyd's biggest question mark, but his size, hands and YAC ability could make him an attractive option for the Rams' West Coast offensive scheme. And with Donnie Avery healthy you can argue that they'll get their true speed threat elsewhere. We'll see. 

Alabama WR Julio Jones went to Cleveland with the sixth overall pick in this mock and A.J. Green went third overall to the Bills. Beyond Green, the conventional wisdom for the first round receivers has yet to gel, with Jones being viewed by the pundits as anything from a top ten to a late first round pick. Floyd's name is popping into the first round now as is Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon and Jonathan Baldwin from Pitt. 

I'm sure we'll be talking about these prospects and more in the next few months. 

The are some other players of note available with the Rams pick in that mock draft. Adding help along the defensive line is also a priority for the Rams who will need to start thinking of backup plans for James Hall and Fred Robbins. Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward is there, but is he a 3-4 end exclusively? Seems like too big of a question mark, Adam Carriker-like, for the Rams. Would it be a similar situation for Cal DE Cameron Jordan? One intriguing name available in this mock with the 14th pick is Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn. Could he give the Rams another pass rushers opposite Chris Long?

Then, of course, there's the Rams other glaring need on defense: outside linebacker. In this mock draft, UCLA OLB Akeem Ayers, whose speed, coverage ability and awareness for the ball could be a huge asset for the Rams at outside linebacker. 

Looking at all of those names, it's tough to imagine the Rams not looking for an offensive playmaker in the first round. With linebackers, Spagnuolo and Flajole have a stated preference for taking later round picks or second-tier free agents, installing them in the system and coaching their attributes into solid parts of the system. It's worked for them before and seems likely to happen again this year. 

Here's a wildcard for you, what about Alabama RB Mark Ingram? 

Ok, that's enough draft talk to keep you satisfied for awhile. More bowl game watch lists be around soon too. 

And why am I talking draft the day after the Rams belly flopped to end their season? Well, it just wouldn't be very productive to talk much about the scope of the 2010 season today with so much disappointment still lingering. We'll have plenty of 2010 retrospective in the days and weeks ahead.