In this ongoing series (yes, I'll do Blackmon soon) I'm examining the players that could be there when the Rams turn in their pick to Commissioner Goodell on Draft Day 2012. While it makes it more difficult due to the ambiguity about exactly where the Rams will pick in the 2012 draft, it certainly gives us a lot more to talk about.
I'd like to say that I've seen Trent Richardson play sparingly. I did see quite a bit of Ingram in college, and he may have been one of the most impressive running backs I've seen. You saw him line up behind the qb, and he just screamed player. He had the numbers to back it up too. The reason I mention this is that I know a lot of people who live and breath college football. Obsessed over it some may say. To a person, they say Richardson is the better prospect. Catches better, blocks better, and runs better.
You all know the stats or how to find them. The argument could be made the Rams have Steven Jackson, a pro bowl quality running back - when healthy - so they should work on filling other positions of need in the draft this year . Aye, but you see, there is the rub.... SJ is an incredible warrior, perhaps to his detriment at times. The Rams can no longer afford to assume SJ will be healthy going forward. He will fight like a demon while in, but at some point everyone knows that kind of pounding has repercussions.
While many pundits have compared Trent Richardson to Adrian Peterson, and though I'm certain Trent will take that comparison all day long, I'm of a different bent. In my opinion, the best running back in the NFL is Ray Rice. He does everything right, and he is lethal in the screen game. The measurement comparison between Rice and Richardson are similar (Richardson is around 2 inches taller and about 10 lbs heavier), and from all accounts Richardson is a great pass catcher, much like Rice. With a franchise quarterback who is more successful getting rid of the ball quickly, this is a great weapon. Not to mention just ramming the ball down their throats could keep Bradford on his feet longer. Just ask Flacco.
We know that Fisher likes to run the ball. We know that the Rams are much better at run blocking than pass blocking. Even Jason Smith, if the bells have stopped ringing, can run block. Fisher is no stranger to a two back systems. While that kills our fantasy teams, I don't think anyone can dispute that this is the trend in the NFL. Perhaps if Sam isn't beaten senseless, our run blockers get to get nasty, and we don't necessarily have to rely on the air game? Quick, name a great Titans receiver. A strong running game and a mediocre receiving corps gets you to .500. Then, by virtue of the trade down, you have two first round picks next year, which is a very strong class for receivers. The Rams could hit on a couple of second and third rounders too. If that happens, we've got ourselves a team.
Not that Jackson didn't do his share of receiving, but look at his receiving numbers over the last several years. It's gone down each year. The beating has taken a toll, and he can't make the cuts he used to for an entire game. (See - first play from scrimmage against the Eagles) Jackson's high of 90 catches in 2006 has fallen to an average of around 50 ever since, and those 50 weren't nearly as productive.
The Rams cannot afford to take Richardson at number two. At four, I'd have to take Richardson. I understand that early round running backs are not the norm anymore, but it sure does solve a lot of problems when you can line up Sjax or Richardson in your backfield. One gets to go out in style, the other learns from one of the better team players in the history of the NFL.