Editor’s note: This is a guess post from Kevin Roberts of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow Fantasy Football Overdose on twitter at @NBAandNFLInfo, and for more information on St. Louis Rams stats, news and rumors – visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
The St. Louis Rams need help at wide receiver. It’s an odd predicament, especially since the Rams traded up to land West Virginia star receiver Tavon Austin in last year’s draft. Even more, the Rams let reliable slot option Danny Amendola walk last year, and have a jammed up receiving corps full of young talent.
Needless to say, the Rams have three options: they can see if young guys like Brian Quick and Chris Givens are the answers on the outside around Austin, they can look to free agency and try to sign guys like Eric Decker, Hakeem Nicks or Jeremy Maclin, or they can fix their would-be wide receiver problem in the draft.
Rams GM Les Snead has suggested the first option, but few St. Louis fans are buying it. That, or they’ve seen enough out of Givens and Quick to know they aren’t really the game-changers the Rams need.
Truth be told, both Givens and Quick are talented and still have untapped potential. But neither is a go-to #1 receiver at the moment, and it’s no certainty that they will develop into that kind of player in 2014 – or ever. That could force the Rams hand in this year’s draft or free agency.
Free agency is the easier, quicker fix. Decker may not be a true #1 target, but he definitely is a high-level #2 and with all the other talent the Rams have at wide receiver, it’s possible he could be good enough as their new top option in the passing game.
Perhaps, but no matter how good he is, he won’t be cheap. So, why not save that cash and spend it elsewhere, and go get another potential-ridden wide receiver in the draft? After all, the Rams do have two first round picks and could even trade down from the #2 overall pick and acquire more picks.
With that in mind, let’s consider the top five wide receivers in this year’s draft that St. Louis could and should consider selecting:
Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
Watkins really isn’t a huge target, but he’s just so explosive that the Rams will absolutely have to consider adding him. It will probably take the #2 overall pick, though, and that might be a bit steep to land another wide receiver who may initially need manufactured touches. The Rams need a guy who can go get jump balls and be a terror in the red-zone. I can’t say Watkins can’t be that guy, but there are other talented wide receivers who are better suited to do those things and don’t need to be taken so high.
Mike Evans (Texas A&M)
Evans is probably the ideal receiver for the Rams, and if they want him they’ll almost certainly need to take him with their second pick in the first round. Evans doesn’t have elite speed and isn’t the most explosive athlete, but he’s a massive target with insane catch radius. He’s basically Vincent Jackson and he’d be exactly the type of big-play receiver the Rams are looking for. Kelvin Benjamin and Marqise Lee are two other first round candidates that the Rams will surely think about with their second first rounder, but that type of speculation has been done to death. With the final three receiving options, let’s think about what guys St. Louis might consider taking in the second or third round.
Allen Robinson (Penn State)
While the Rams taking Evans, Watkins or one of the other top wide receivers in the draft would make a splash and sounds awesome, it’s not the only route. The other option would be to wait until round two or even later. A guy like Robinson could easily be available in the second round, and would be worth a shot for St. Louis. Robinson specifically has the size the Rams are looking for on the outside at 6’3”, while he exhibited nice play-making ability after the catch at Penn State. He doesn’t have the best timed speed, but again, that’s not necessarily what St. Louis needs in their #1 target. They need a guy who can move the chains, get jump balls and keep defenses honest in the red-zone. Robinson can give them all of that, and possibly a lot more.
Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)
It gets even less sexy with Matthews, but as one of the more underrated players in general in this year’s draft, Matthews would be a fantastic addition to the Rams. He lacks game-changing speed or explosiveness, but has great size and excellent fundamentals. From a pure wide receiver standpoint, it’s fairly arguable that Matthews is the most fundamentally sound pass-catcher in the entire draft. That may be exactly what the Rams need. Matthews still gives you great size, excellent hands and terrific route-running ability. Speed is the big question mark, which should help keep him as a round two or even round three selection. That should keep the Rams in play for his services if they’re interested.
Jarvis Landry (LSU)
Landry lacks height, but otherwise has solid overall size and build, while also being a great play-maker. It’s pretty arguable that Landry is best suited for the slot at the next level, but he’s a tough receiver who isn’t afraid to get hit and will go after balls. I think he can play outside if the Rams want him to be that guy, though. Thanks to great hands and his desire to go get the football, Landry is simply one of the toughest covers coming out of college football. That’s the kind of impact player in the passing game the Rams will want to think about adding.
Again, if the Rams want to just make an upgrade and feel confident the next move will get the job done, they’ll want to hit free agency. If they do that, I think they’ll be strong contenders to land Eric Decker. If not, they should aim for a second round pick at wide receiver. They have other issues on defense and the offensive line that could keep them from spending either of their two first round picks on a new play-maker, and with so many solid talents readily available in round two, that might be the best path for them to take.