2011 NFL Draft grades have been handed out, parsed and stuffed back in the box to be reviewed at a later date. The new draft meme is all about impact, early impact to be exact. Which of the St. Louis Rams draft picks could have an immediate impact on the team's fortunes in 2011?
We touched on Robert Quinn earlier today, getting some very premature hype as a potential NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate in Steve Spagnuolo's aggressive pass rush. Another player is getting into the conversation as a potential impact rookie this year: third-round pick WR Austin Pettis.
Mocking the Draft noted Pettis as one of five third-round picks who could hear their name called often this season, for all the right reasons. Mike Sando, ESPN's NFC West blogger, also cited Pettis in his look at rookie impact potential today.
Pettis has a couple things working in his favor. First and foremost, he has an incredibly accurate Sam Bradford throwing the ball. Great QBs elevate the play of the receivers around them, and Bradford certainly did that last year.
Pettis also doesn't have much in the way of competition on the roster, at least not competition that matches his skill set. The Rams were terrible in the red zone last year. Several issues factored into that, but the lack of a real red zone threat in the passing game was definitely a big one. A big receiver with good hands and precise route running ability should offer the Rams' offense an instant upgrade in the red zone, the end zone.