Dec 8, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) runs the ball during the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the rams 30-10. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

How The Rams Can Fix Their Problems At Wide Receiver

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Jan 3, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Sammy Watkins (2) runs against Ohio State Buckeyes during the second half in the 2014 Orange Bowl college football game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since the departures of Rams wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce from St. Louis, the Rams have been searching desperately for that number one receiver.

From Donnie Avery, to hopeful Danario Alexander, and finally Brandon Llyod, the Rams have struggled to find that guy. The Rams now have Chris Givens and Brian Quick who very well could add their names to that list.

Replacing great players like Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt is never an easy task, but nobody could have expected it to be this hard. The Rams replaced Steven Jackson just one year after he left, how could finding a number one receiver be so difficult?

Finding that number one receiver has been difficult though, and for the sixth consecutive season, the Rams failed to have a 1,000-yard receiver, tied for the second longest drought in the NFL.

Call it bad drafting, but in reality, some of it has just been simple bad luck. In the years that a top elite wide receiver has been in the draft, the Rams seem to have a pick in the middle of the first round, and the years the Rams have had a pick atop the first round, there were no elite receivers worthy of a high draft pick.

In 2007 when Calvin Johnson came out, the Rams held the 13th overall pick. In 2008, the highest receiver went 33rd overall and the Rams drafted him, Donnie Avery. In Avery’s second season he tore his ACL and never played another snap in a Rams uniform.

After having the number two and number one overall picks in 2009 and 2010, the Rams drafted 14 overall only to have A.J. Green and Juilo Jones get drafted at number four and number six.

In 2012 the Rams got jumped by Jacksonville who got Justin Blackmon, but settled for Brian Quick in the second round, only to have 1,000 yard receiver Alshon Jeffrey go to Chicago a few picks later. Finally in 2013 St. Louis had enough and drafted up to get Tavon Austin, and yet still, the Rams are without that number one receiver.

Last season, Austin led Rams wide receivers with 40 catches. To find the last time the Rams’ leading wide receiver had fewer catches in a season, one must go all the way back to 1986. That year, Henry Ellard led the entire club with just 34 catches.

Givens led the Rams with 569 receiving yards this season. Again, it’s Ellard in 1986 for the last time a Rams wideout led with fewer receiving yards (447).

Is this going to be one of the great curses of professional sports? The Curse of the Bambino, The Curse of Billy Penn,  or worst of all The Curse of the Billy Goat. Is this the curse of the Greatest Show on Turf? Are the Rams now suffering for having such a great receiving corps for such a long time?

How do the Rams stop this drought? Do the Rams stay patient, keep working with the youngsters and look for better days from the group? Or do they go the other way? Keep drafting or trying to upgrade the position through trades or free agency until they get it right?

The good news is, for the first time in a while, the Rams have some luck headed into the 2014 NFL draft. The Rams hold two picks in the first round, one of which being in the top five. Thankfully for the Rams, there may finally be a receiver worthy of being taken in the top five when they are drafting in the top five in Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

Even if the Rams miss out on Watkins, Marquise Lee and Mike Evans would be options when the Rams select at 13 overall, both of which also can be number one options on the outside.

Adding Watkins would give the Rams an elite force on the outside, something they have desperately needed. The Rams had hoped Brian Quick would be that force, but two years in, he just hasn’t produced. How much longer can you wait?

Adding another guy on the outside that defenses would have to respect could open things up for Chris Givens on the opposite side. Chris Givens had a down year in 2013, but I wouldn’t say it’s time to give up on him just yet.

In all of Bradford’s time in St. Louis he hasn’t had a true number one receiver, Watkins would be just that right off of the bat. The Rams have been searching for an answer at wide receiver  for the past six years, Sammy Watkins could just be the answer.

Adding a veteran wide receiver  in free agency might not be a bad idea as well. The Rams don’t have to go after one of the top receivers, but adding a veteran presence in the locker room wouldn’t be a bad idea.

One of this team’s biggest needs this offseason is a number one wide receiver. It’s time to break this curse. In order for this offense to take their game to the next level, a number one receiver, whether they get it through the draft or free agency, is crucial.

 

 

 

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