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2011 NFL Draft trade rumors starting early

The 2011 NFL Scouting Combine hasn't even happened yet (it starts Feb. 24) and we've already got our first draft rumor involving a swap of first round picks. Naturally, that rumor involves the trade-happy New England Patriots who own two first round picks (#17 and #28).

Could/should the Rams be one of those teams?

Len Pasquarelli at said this in a Saturday report:

The New England Patriots, who have six choices in the first three rounds of the draft, have already received inquiries about their two first-round choices.

Teams inquiring about trading down could include any number of teams since this is a relatively mediocre draft class that lacks easy decisions beyond the first 10 picks or so. Throw in the confusion about whether or not there will be football in 2011 to make things even less predictable.

You have to wonder if the St. Louis Rams aren't one of the teams thinking about horse trading with the Pats. Wide receiver is their most obvious need, and picking at #14 they are unlikely to land either of the top two receivers in this draft, A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Trading up isn't as desirable since that entails oodles more money for a rookie contract and, more importantly, surrendering much needed draft picks for team still needing depth.

And what about the non-receivers that might be available with pick #14? There are a few defensive linemen, but none stand out as a perfect fit and there are more to be had later in the draft. Outside lineback, someone like Akeem Ayers, might be a possibility too, but Spagnuolo has a stated preference for finding 4-3 value outside of the first round. None of the offensive guards have played their way to that high of a pick either, and that's another position that can usually be filled via less expensive routes.

Trading down to the twenties would give the Rams a shot at several of the second tier receivers like Jonathan Baldwin, Leonard Hankerson, Titus Young or Torrey Smith. And that's not to say that a receiver would be the pick there either. They could just as easily take a look at guards Mike Pouncey or Danny Watkins or even a solid three technique DT prospect like Illinois' Corey Liuget.

Don't forget another potential advantage of trading down would be to add draft picks. New England has two picks in each of the first three rounds, including the top spot in the second round, a place that's been a bloody gold mine for the Rams lately.

We ran down last year's trades to get an idea of what's possible in a post last week.

Stay tuned, because there's plenty more draft intrigue to come between now and April.