Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

St Louis Rams Wide Receivers: Whose Time Is Up?


With the free agent signing of Kenny Britt, the St Louis Rams suddenly find themselves with six wide receivers who have been drafted within the first 96 picks of their respective drafts in the roster, including two first-rounders. This is surprising given that many have identified wide receiver as a position of need for the franchise, and can, perhaps, be taken as an indication of the front office’s failure to address it successfully, despite high picks. Britt joins a corps that includes a big body (Brian Quick, 33rd pick), a speedy trickster (Tavon Austin, 6th pick), a slot receiver with success as a deep threat (Chris Givens, 96th pick), a reliable red-zone catcher (Austin Pettis, 78th pick) and an up-and-coming effective route-runner who showed flashes of potential in his rookie year (Steadman Bailey, 92nd pick). It is getting awfully crowded in there, and even if the Rams do not draft Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans later on this month, there is a feeling that something might have to give.

And herein lies the rub: none of these receivers – including Britt – have yet lived up to their potential. Frustratingly, though, they have all shown flashes of brilliance that clearly demonstrate what they are capable of achieving on the field. Tavon Austin had a disappointing, injury-shortened rookie season, but against Indianapolis he proved what a remarkable receiving, running and returning threat he can be. Chris Given’s rookie season was likewise replete with big downfield catches – including receptions of at least fifty yards over five consecutive weeks, a rookie record – before fading as a sophomore. Pettis had more touchdown receptions in 2013 (4) than Quick (2), Givens and Bailey (both 0), and is the most experienced Ram at that position. Even the much-maligned Quick had his moments, and quietly led the team in yards-per-catch. However, this is very much a team of second, even third, receivers in a team that desperately needs a stud.

So, with Britt, and potentially some rookies, in, who is out? Six is already a crowded stable, and the Rams decided to re-sign Justin Veltung who, while playing mostly on special teams, is also a receiver. Austin is clearly safe: he is a high pick who is likely to improve in his second year. Bailey’s youth also works in his favor. Givens has a body of work from his rookie season that will, at the very least, buy him some time. He also has special teams value.

Which leaves Quick and Pettis. Quick was a higher draft pick and has been around for less time. While this status might make him a higher potential profile bust, the fact remains that his size and speed offers variables that differentiate him from those around him. Pettis is slightly shorter, slightly lighter, and somewhat slower, and has been in the League for an additional year. Plus, while Quick plays on the outside and should be capable of making big plays, Pettis is more of a slot receiver, most effective either to gain short yards for possession or in the red-zone, roles that could be taken up by Givens or Bailey. Pettis is more expendable while the Rams wait to see whether Quick’s significant upside materializes.

Therefore, do not be surprised if Pettis gets cut before the season starts, especially if new receivers get drafted. Even Quick and Givens are not that safe at the moment, and the acquisition of Watkins or Evans, when combined with Britt, could spell the end of their short tenures in blue-and-gold.


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Tags: Austin Pettis Kenny Britt St. Louis Rams

  • Jim

    Britt isn’t safe either. He’s got an extremely low amount of guaranteed money if they cut him before the start of the season.

    • Nathan Kearns

      True, although I think Britt is a “safe” pick for the 53-man roster as long as he stays out of trouble. Jeff Fisher and Les Snead wouldn’t have brought him in if they weren’t planning on giving him a fair shot at one of the starting spots. Again, that low money contract was likely more of a safety value in case Britt continued his off-the-field antics, as opposed to a safety value in the event of poor performance at camp.

      • Gary Stewart

        i feel the rams are ready to move on from pettis, the one thing not mentioned is that givens quick tavon and stedman along with britt were selected by either fisher or fisher and snead pettis was from the old regime. that said unless the rams select a 1st rounder at wr pettis should at least be able to once again prove it in practice and preseason. i always refer to vincent jackson when i see quick and it took jackson 4 years to as they say come out and fish and co are probably not ready to give up on him yet. givens was at a serious disadvantage last year his deep threat potential could not be used with clemens poor throwing arm to stretch the field because givens would always outrun the ball and have to wait while the defense caught up bradfords arm should help revive the givens career, however quick and givens will most likely be gone by 2015 if they don’t show up this year.

  • UhhDuhh

    Pettis is a reliable possession receiver and he is tough. He kept two drives alive against SF and Buffalo in 2012 and caught the tying TD against SF. Without those wins we would have been 5-11 and he is probably the only current WR Bradford can trust to be where he is supposed to be.

    • Nathan Kearns

      Bradford didn’t have a genuine opportunity to “get comfortable” with with Stedman or Tavon, and certainly hasn’t had a chance to build chemistry with Britt, at this point. Pettis was give the chance to come in and be the “No.1 guy” last season, and failed to perform consistently as a starter. He’s had more than enough chances to emerge as more than a rotational, possession player that can cash in on other players pulling coverage away from him in the red zone… he hasn’t. Not saying that he is gone, but if the Rams take a receiver in the draft, Pettis will be wearing a new jersey in 2014

      • drewspinoso

        This is the pros. “Get comfortable”, that’s ridiculous statement and will be sure to tell all my bosses at my new job when they complain about my performance. “I need another year of practice timing my delivery”. What crap! Tell Andrew Luck that. How did he do his first year! What receivers did he have at Stanford that are now on colts team. This is called enabling and you are judged guilty! You are forbidden to write anymore posts!

        • pbg619

          Andrew Luck on his first year had Reggie Wayne a proven pro bowl WR who was teaching TY hilton to what he is today plus they grabbed his TE from Stanford so your arguement holds no water….any QB will tell you that you need to workmon timing with there WRs cause of there different speeds and sizes…It even Tom Brady had trouble last year trying to get the timing down with his New WRs …So you sir are forbidden to write anymore posts!

          • drewspinoso

            . You are changing the argument. Now you are saying the Rams receivers suck.

        • Nathan Kearns

          …ever heard of Coby Fleener? Talk about a fail in the comment section…

    • LukeVibert

      Pettis is one of those guys that seems to do just enough to keep around but doesn’t become a game changer. The Rams need game changers in the worst way. I think Pettis will do well on another team with established wrs as a third or fourth option. He’s unfortunately clouding the Ram’s wr options and growth currently. Just my take and I’m no Vince Lombardi, just a fan.

  • Rick Talley

    Quick will “get it” this year. Coming out of App State, it was expected to take him a little longer to adjust to the pros. The talent is there. Don’t take a receiver, bolster the OL with quality picks, and develop the run game…and it will all come together.

    • Nathan Kearns

      Not to sound resentful, but the St. Louis Rams have attempted that strategy in the past, and it bit in the in the a*s! Assuming that anyone will jump from a sub-20 rec. rotational receiver to a 1,000+ yard true No.1 guy is a optimistic. Have no doubt that Quick will improve, and could eventually be that “top guy,” but if you have the chance to add more weapons to the offense, do it….

  • drewspinoso

    If you are Ray Sherman you must feel like a black guy with the smallest penis in the room.
    Everyone of his receivers got worse after joining the Rams!
    Straight embarrassment for the Rams organization.

  • drewspinoso

    Petis is a good #3 receiver. Britt will be good #2. Rams don’t have #1!
    Rams needed Conservative Norv Turner calling plays. Not crappy Shittenheimer.
    Rams desperately need to straighten up their o line and safeties.
    Coaching will still suck
    They may be a wildcard this year. never a champion with poor coaching.

  • cesarnoel

    With a very deep WR class, I’m sure the Rams can get their potential go-to WR. the Rams doesn’t necessarily need a #1 WR because they only need consistent pass catchers as Seattle has shown us in 2013.

  • Kenneth Tarlow

    Cutting Pettis would be a step back for Bradford. Pettis is Sam’s most reliable receiver. Its true Bailey took tat role at the end of the year. The Rams don’t need flash, they need reliability. They need to stop dropping the ball.