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2012 NFL Mock Draft: If Rams Pick 4th Or 6th, Who Should They Take?

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Feb 27, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels defensive lineman Quinton Coples (8) gets measured during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Feb 27, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels defensive lineman Quinton Coples (8) gets measured during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

It must be that time of year. Young men in pajamas are still dancing around Indianapolis, the most popular Midwestern dance act EVER! I jumped into an interesting discussion on Twitter this morning, trying to divine who exactly would be worth taking if the St. Louis Rams trade down in the 2012 NFL Draft.

As you might expect, few issues were ironed out in 140-character increments (Twitter, I love you, but I hate you so much). With so many getting lukewarm on Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, the Rams' decision in the 4th or 6th spot is not an easy one.

One mock draft out this week gets to the heart of the problem.

The fine folks over at NE Patriots Draft rolled out a new mock that has the Rams picking fourth, after a swap with the Browns. And with that pick, the Rams select, for the second draft in a row, a defensive end from North Carolina, Quinton Coples.

That probably will not happen, but it would be way too early to rule that out. A defensive end, you say? Don't the Rams already have a couple of solid young bookends in Chris Long and Robert Quinn, you ask?

Yes. There is one basic lesson here though, you can never have too many pass rushers, just ask the New York Giants. With Coples, or Courtney Upshaw or some other outside pass rusher, the Rams would have two very good young players working on very cheap rookie deals.

The price of pass rushers goes up every year. Mario Williams is set to become the richest defensive player in the NFL when free agency starts. The Rams could have Quinn and a first-round pick this year under contract at about the same cost as a top veteran defensive end.

Compare that to Chris Long who has a total cap value this season of more than $18 million, the last year of his contract. Long had 13 sacks this year. He could easily top that this year in Gregg Williams' defense. Re-signing him will not be cheap.

I don't know that I want to live in a world where a team wants to play without Chris Long on their roster, but anything is possible. In the past, Rams COO Kevin Demoff has said that re-signing Long is a priority. I doubt Fisher would disagree. They could use the franchise tag in 2013 for Long, which should inflate beyond this year's $12.4 million number for defensive ends.

But what about the need? The Rams have two defensive ends, why spend a high pick on another? Good point, but pass rushers are one of those things it just never hurts a defense to have as many as possible. It would really come down to the question of which other players are available.

In the case of this particular mock draft, the Rams could pick Morris Claiborne or Trent Richardson. Claiborne would clearly be a better pick for the Rams than Coples in that situation, and I think Richardson might be as well. However, the value of pass rushers and running backs differs considerably.

Other options here would be Riley Reiff, Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd or David DeCastro. Sorry, none of those guys are really worth the fourth pick in the draft, not to me.

Who would you take in the fourth or sixth spot?