Last April the St. Louis Rams, led by General Manager Les Snead and Head Coach Jeff Fisher, knew that the team had to have playmakers for franchise quarterback Sam Bradford. So they brought in talent like, veteran tight end Jared Cook and left tackle Jake Long, and added some interesting rookies also. You hear plenty about Tavon Austin and Zac Stacy, but the one rookie that everyone forgets to mention is Stedman Bailey.
Bailey was hidden by his former college roommate Tavon Austin's shadow, and he's under Austin's shadow once again. Luckily for the Rams, they drafted a good player late in the 3rd round.
Why did Bailey fall to the 3rd round?
Bailey is talented, didn't have any character concerns or red flags, so how did Bailey fall into the late 3rd round? Lot's of factors forced Bailey to fall in the draft. For one He's only 5'10, he had an average combine (which means he ran in the 4.5 range in the 40), and there were some really good receivers available in the draft.
Mini scouting report
+ Makes the acrobatic catch
+Adjusts well to the ball
+ Can get vertical
+ Can fight for the first down
+ Good routes
+ Comes back to the ball
+ One thing that stands out to me is that when he run blocks, he catches corners off guard, because he makes it look like he's running one of his routes
+Smart receiver that finds holes in coverage
+ Good run blocker for a receiver.
- Taller than his college teammate Tavon Austin, but is only 5'10
- Doesn't get much seperation
- Doesn't do well fighting for the ball
- More quick than fast
Here's what NFL Network had to say about Bailey.
Extremely productive. Showcases tremendous physicality in his routes. Uses his hands and body to create separation. Excellent body control. Very reliable target, volume catcher. Soft hands, can make plays off of his frame. Smart receiver who is adept at finds holes and picking up the first down. Tracks the football well over his shoulder and adjusts his body in order to make difficult catches. Competitive.
Lacks ideal size, both in terms of height and bulk. Not an overly explosive athlete. Doesn't change directions with suddenness. Likely won't run a blazing 40 yard dash. Often times most of the attention of the defense was given to teammate and fellow wide receiver Tavon Austin.
Bailey lacks the ideal size and speed of an outside receiver. However, what Bailey lacks in terms of measurables, he makes up for with reliable hands, physicality, and superb body control. He will likely be selected on the second day.
Where will Stedman Bailey line up?
Bailey fits the new versatile model that the Rams are moving to this season. It makes sense to have players that can play multiple positions. It makes it easier to stress the defense when they have to worry about where a player is any given play.
Bailey won't be getting many snaps at running back or as a returner. He should be able to play some on the outside and as a slot receiver. Bailey could end up beating Quick for his spot, or when Austin is somewhere other than the slot, Bailey could come in and lineup there.
What will be Bailey's role with the Rams?
It's been a struggle figuring out where Bailey would fit among this group of talented wide receivers. On many teams right now Bailey would probably be third, and on a few teams he would be the second best receiver on the roster. On the Rams he could be the fourth best behind Brian Quick, Chris Givens, and fellow rookie Tavon Austin, I'd like to think that he has more talent than Austin Pettis and would beat him on the depth chart.
Bailey can be a starter in this league. The best role for him is the Brandon Gibson role. Bailey is more versatile and it appears that he has better hands. He's a possession receiver, that will be able to beat corners vertically, become a dependable red zone threat, and make Sam Bradford look better by catching passes that wouldn't have been catches a year ago for this team.
The only question is, how much playing time will Bailey get? For that answer, we will have to wait until training camp.