The direction the St. Louis Rams take in the 2012 NFL Draft will have a big impact on the course of the franchise for the next few years, a franchise at an interesting point in its existence. Assuming the same regime sticks around, they'll be expected to take a giant leap forward. This next draft isn't about rebuilding, it's about finding the kind of players that can constitute a championship team. This draft isn't about correcting past mistakes, or is it? One 2012 mock draft has the Rams doing just that.
Dan over at Mocking the Draft rolled out a new mock draft last night. Using the SB Nation power rankings to sort the draft order, the Rams picked third. The pick in this mock draft was all about righting the course set by a couple other recent draft picks, correcting a mistake from that miserable first round in the 2009 NFL Draft.
And the Rams picked...
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Obviously, this is about fixing the offensive line, again. Here's how Dan described it:
Rodger Saffold hasn't been the same player he was as a rookie and Martin has outstanding potential. Much like in the Colts' situation, Saffold would shift to the right and Martin would be on the left. Wide receiver is less of a need following the acquisition of Brandon Lloyd and this is too early for a cornerback.
Personally, I think it's a little soon to go back to the well on offensive tackles. I have my sincere doubts about Jason Smith's future with the team, but I think that finding playmakers is far more important at this point in time. The offensive line is going to require another investment this year, and it will need some players who are ready to play, which means finding a free agent tackle might be a better option.
Wide receivers Justin Blackmon and Alshon Jeffery are picked immediately after the Rams' selection. I'm not so sure that I wouldn't opt for one of those players anyway. If Brandon Lloyd does work out and the Rams re-sign him for 2012 and beyond, that gives them ONE top-tier receiver, one who will be 31 next season.
Taking running backs in the first round is so last decade; however, Trent Richardson would be a nice player to have. Not with the third overall pick. If the trading situation plays out different and the Rams move down, I'd give the Alabama running back some consideration.
This draft doesn't have cornerbacks off the board until picks 21-24. Dre Kirkpatrick is first, followed by Morris Claiborne and Janoris Jenkins. We'll see how those guys do this season and through the Combine/Pro Day calendar, but I suspect they'll be picked higher given how essential corners are in the pass-first league.