November 17, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receivers Tavon Austin (1) and Stedman Bailey (3) gesture as they await a kick-off from the Oklahoma Sooners during the first quarter at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Oklahoma Sooners won 50-49. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Rams Still Reaping Benefits Of Robert Griffin III Trade With Washington Redskins

In 2012, there was much debate on whether or not the St. Louis Rams should hit the “reset” button, drop  Sam Bradford, and start fresh by taking Robert Griffin III with the 2nd overall pick in the draft. Instead, the Rams opted to trade down from the pick, marking one of the biggest hauls in the history of the NFL. Specifically, the Rams moved down from the 2nd overall selection to 6th overll in the 2012 draft. In return, they received an addition 2nd rounder in the 2012 draft, a 1st round pick in the 2013 draft, and a 1st rounder in the 2014 draft.

Now, to the untrained eye, that might seem like a decent trade, essentially gaining four starting-caliber players in exchange for the services of Robert Griffin III. However, the St. Louis Rams were not satified with that…

In the 2012 NFL Draft, St. Louis was rumored to be targeting Justin Blackmon with the 6th overall pick in the draft; a prospect rumored to be the best receiver out of college since A.J. Green. However, in a last second trade, the Jacksonville Jaguars leapfrogged the Rams, snagging Blackmon with the 5th overall pick, one spot ahead of St. Louis. In response, the Rams immediated traded down from 6th overall to 14th overall, eventually taking Michael Brockers, who would turn out to be one of the best interior defensive lineman in the league after coming from from a preseason injury. However, the Rams got more than just their anchor in the middle of the defense by trading down; they also obtained the Cowboys’ 2nd rounder in the 2012 Draft, leaving them with three more picks in the Top 50.

With the 39th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, courtesy of the Washington Redskins, the St. Louis Rams selected Janoris Jenkins, the troubled corner out of North Alabama/Florida. Jenkins, in exchange for the Rams’ faith, finished the season with 64 tackles (1st among rookie corners) and 18 pass deflections (T-14th overall in the NFL). However, his most impressive numbers came in the “turnover” battle, finishing the season with 4 interception, returning 3 of those for touchdown, and tying him with Charles Tillman for most pick-6s in 2012. Jenkins also had a crucial fumble recovery against the San Francisco 49ers, scooping and rolling his way into the endzone. That play handed Jenkins the Defensive Scoring title for 2012, with a league-leading 4 defensive touchdowns.

Les Snead and Jeff Fisher continued to wheel and deal in the mid-2nd round, trading away the 45th overall pick (courtesy of Dallas) to the Chicago Bears in exchange for the 50th overall pick, as well as their 5th rounder, the 150th overall selection. They would go on to take Isaiah Pead, who played only sparingly in the 2012 season, but figures to be a major factor in the 2013 season with a full year of experience and a full offseason to digust the playbook and get first-team reps on the field. With the 150th pick, the St. Louis Rams took Rokevious Watkins. Watkins showed up to camp out of shape, but would still work his way into the starting lineup after an injury plague swept through the Rams’ offensive line in the first game of the season. However, the Rams’ rookie was not immune to the injury-bug, and would eventually get throw in IR, ending his rookie campaign. Much like Pead, Watkins should get a shot at competing for the start job at left guard in 2013. With Jake Long on his left and a healthy Scott Wells on his right, the left side of the St. Louis Rams offensive line might transform from the worst in the NFL to one the best in the NFL over the course of a single offseason.

So, in case you haven’t been keep track, the St. Louis Rams now have Michael Brockers, Janoris Jenkins, Isaiah Pead, and Rok Watkins all courtesy of the trade for the 2nd overall pick in the draft.

Fast forward to this weekend and we can pick up Part 2 of the trade, the Redskins’ 2013 1st rounder; the 22nd overall pick. The options were nearly unlimited at this spot, with nearly all of the top rated safeties, wide receivers, and outside linebackers projected to be available at this point in the draft. However, after jumping up to grab Tavon Austin with the 8th overall pick, Les Snead and Co. chose to trade back from the 22nd pick. In exchange, the Rams received the Atlanta Falcons 30th overall pick, as well as their 3rd rounder (92nd overall) and 6th rounder (198th overall).

With their second 1st round pick in the 2013 Draft, the Rams’ took a chance on Alec Ogletree, the top rated inside linebacker prospect in the class. Ogletree will come in and immediately start as the weakside linebacker in the  Rams’ defense, filling arguable the biggest hole on the St. Louis Rams’ roster. His freakish athleticism, chase-down ability, and coverage experience as a former safety should send the Rams’ already-dominate defense to the next level.

With the 92th overall pick, the Rams made a surprising move, drafting another wide receiver… with a twist. St. Louis selected Stedman Bailey, the other half of the West Viriginia receiving corps, reuniting him with the Rams’ 8th overall pick, Tavon Austin. The two combine for 228 receptions, 2,911 yards, and 37 touchdowns in 2012 alone… enough said. Scouts have compared Bailey to the likes of Greg Jennings and Reggie Wayne, and some of him marked as having the “best hands” in the 2013 wide receiver class.

The Rams continued to shuffle picks late in the draft, trading both of their 6th rounders to move up into the 5th round and select Zac Stacy, a running back out of Vanderbilt University. Stacy is a north-south, powerback that amassed more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in his career. He figures to join the running back-by-committee in St. Louis, being the last piece of the 3-headed monster with Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson.

So, now the count includes seven players: Michael Brockers, Janoris Jenkins, Isaiah Pead, Rok Watkins, Alec Ogletree, Stedman Bailey, and Zac Stacy. Within that list are, at least, 3 starters (Brockers, Jenkins, and Ogletree) and 2 others that have a legitimate shot at a starting spot at the beginning of the 2013 season (Pead and Watkins). The remaining two players (Bailey and Stacy) will undoubtly see time on the field in 2013, and will likely both, at a minimum, contribute on special teams in some capacity.

It would be hard to argue that the St. Louis Rams have not “won” in their trade with the Washington Redskins. The Rams have gained five potential starters in the last two drafts, two of which have already made a significant impact on the defensive.

Oh yea… and the St. Louis Rams still have a 1st rounder in the 2014 NFL Draft!

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