A mock draft yesterday shocked fans with its predictions of the St. Louis Rams picking an offensive lineman in the first round. Shocking indeed, but it's important to remember that mock drafts are just conversation starters, gist for the water cooler, rather than mandates from on high. With that in mind, it was the Rams' second round pick in that mock draft that offered more to think about than the first pick.
The Rams picked Maryland WR Torrey Smith in that mock, the fourth receiver off the board, after Jonathan Baldwin and before Leonard Hankerson. Hankerson and Smith aren't identical players to be sure. Distilled down, Hankerson has the size and hands, Smith has the speed and explosiveness.
For the Rams, Hankerson seems to me like a better fit. He's the big guy they lack among their current group of receivers, and the Miami product also appears to be less of a project than Smith. On the other hand, Smith looks like he has potential just waiting to be unwrapped. He's a little bigger than similarly cast receivers which makes him an option to play on the outside. A 4.37 forty time at the Combine cemented Smith's status.
Hankerson might not be on the Rams' radar anyway. Jim Thomas said in his weekly chat with fans that he "gets the impression that the Rams aren't that high on Hankerson." Like he said, it's just an impression he gets, but it is worth noting given Thomas' proximity to the Rams.
There are other distinct possibilities for receivers in the second round. Jonathan Baldwin is one of those prospects, and a player who elicits bipolar opinions. That mostly stems from character concerns, i.e. people who question Baldwin's passion for the game and willingness to give his all on every snap every week. ESPN prospect hound Kevin Weidl shared some interesting thoughts on Baldwin yesterday that sum feeling about the Pitt product.
Pitt J. Baldwin 1 of the bigger boom/bust prospects in 11 class. If he pans out, tho, has a chance to be a vertical difference maker.
He also threw out a comparison for Baldwin, apt in more ways than one.
Baldwin (6043, 224) is elite in terms of tracking and playing deep ball. Also Will demand safety help similar to Plaxico in Giants SB run
Plaxico Burress still faces questions about his every down commitment. He's also a guy Steve Spagnuolo and the rest of his coaching staff is pretty familiar with and could be a temporary option for the Rams when he gets released from prison in June, assuming teams will be free to sign free agents from the penal leagues at that point.
So there you have it, something to chew on this morning other than mock drafts, Smith, Hankerson, Baldwin and Burress, ample conversation fodder if there ever was. Which player to you prefer and why?