Stedman Bailey came into the season quietly, but by the end of the year he had found his way in the NFL. Being one of two receivers that the Rams picked up out of West Virginia in the draft last year, Bailey often found himself in the shadow of Tavon Austin. Starting the season in the back of a depth chart on a team that focuses on the run is tough for a receiver.
Bailey had to claw his way up the chart and earn every snap that he played. He started the season on special teams as a gunner on the punt coverage team, and a good one at that. After countless open field tackles and a beautiful onside-kick return against the Saints, it was clear that he was an emerging special teams superstar.
The level of effort that he put into football was evident even from the small sample size of games that we saw him in. Even in his first career reception, he made the most out of it, pushing for the extra three yards and a first down. Everything he does on the field shows just how much he wants NFL success.
Before becoming a Ram, Bailey had an absolutely stellar year at West Virginia, going off for 1,622 yards and 25 total touchdowns which was actually better that his teammate and first round pick Tavon Austin. Bailey’s season finish of 232 yards this year might seem like a letdown, but saying he didn’t even see a target until week nine, he has been coming on strong.
When the Rams played the Buccaneers, Bailey wowed his critics with an astounding double reverse that went for his first NFL touchdown. Towards the end of the season, Bailey became one of the Rams more consistent receivers. While not a blazer by any means, Bailey is one of the most “football smart” players on the team and is able to exploit defenders and get open easily.
While the Rams seem to be possibly drafting a receiver in the early rounds, Bailey should still be able to find his niche in this offense. If his effort level continues to impress coaches, expect to see him take the field as one of our starting guys in 2014.
2014 prediction: 69 receptions, 845 yards, and 6 touchdowns.