Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Assessing The St. Louis Rams Situation At Receiver


 

Shortly after the Rams acquired wide receiver Kenny Britt in free agency, I wrote a piece for Ramblin’ Fan looking at the team’s situation at the position. The article described the status quo at the moment, highlighting which players would be the team’s prime receivers, while also concluding that Austin Pettis would likely be cut. It also recognized that the situation would be likely to change after the Draft, especially as some predicted that the Rams would select either Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans, or picking up any from the deep receiver class in later rounds. Either way, a new analysis of the position would be necessary.

As it happened, however, the Rams did not choose a single receiver among their eleven picks, instead signing two as undrafted free agents. This could be interpreted as an indication that either the front office were not satisfied with any of the available prospects, or that they are confident with the incumbent corps. The Rams would be heading into offseason workouts with Britt, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey and Pettis as the main receivers on the depth chart.

But this apparent stability was shaken through alarming news far from Britt’s Instagram account. On May 12th, the Rams announced that Bailey would be suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances. With no further details have been confirmed, this is naturally a blow both to the receiver position, and to Bailey himself, who last season proved himself as a reliable route-runner who could go on to take Pettis’ spot on the roster. Instead, by the time Bailey’s suspension is lifted, he may find it hard to return to the field if the other receivers are performing at a high level. Bailey was one of the most promising players at the position, but he his progress will not be taking a step back.

So, what does this mean for the Rams at receiver? Unless Quick finally delivers on his second-round billing in training camp or the pre-season, Britt and Givens will likely man the wide positions, with trickster Austin in the slot. If the Rams make no further signings in free agency, Pettis will probably remain on the team for now and see the field in short-yardage or goal-line situations, which should have been Bailey’s domain. After all, if the front office was satisfied with their receivers heading into the Draft, it is unlikely they would now cut Pettis given his continuity and relationship with Sam Bradford. In effect, Pettis has been given a four-game grace period to cement his place in the team’s future.

But there are, of course, some interesting options in free agency, and there are bound to be many more as teams make their cuts heading into training camp, the pre-season and the proper season. Houston’s André Johnson, for example, has expressed his dissatisfaction as a Texan, but both his price-tag and the unlikelihood of his release means it is a low possibility he will end up a Ram. Greg Little, recently released by Cleveland, is another interesting prospect that has generated some debate on social media, with some (including Ramblin’ Fan editor Nathan Kearns) praising his physical attributes, blocking skills and performance in college, and others pointing out his propensity for dropping catches as a Brown.

The situation at receiver is, therefore, as uncertain as it was before the Draft. The Rams’ receiving corps notoriously underperformed last season, but it is clear that, with the investments made in the Draft, the front office feels the current crop is capable of making significant improvement. What is also clear, however, is that, at least for the first quarter of the season, Stedman Bailey will not be part of this.

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  • UhhDuhh

    Don’t forget TJ Moe, and FA’s Jamaine Sherman and Austin Franklin. If any of the current WR’s learned anything from the Richardson cut, being a game one starter in 2013 does not guarantee you a spot on the club.

  • http://www.cnsqonline.com cesarnoel

    The signing of Kenny Britt shows he’s be one of the starters (on paper) with Chris Given opposite him and Tavon Austin manning the slot. Brian Quick will compete with Kenny Britt for one of the outside receiver slots.

  • Gary Stewart

    while the rams still have no proven #1 wr the selections in the draft of robinson and mason to bolster the run game and mason also provides a weapon out of the backfield on 3rd down, as it stands this may force an extra safety in the box and open up the play action pass and with jared cook and kendricks as well my guess is the wrs will see about 40-50 catches each and about 500 yards each but when you add it up it looks like about 3500 yards passing and my guess is about 1600 yards rushing. these numbers should be fine if our defense does the job its expected to do !! GO RAMS!!

    • erick

      Mason is the worst pass blocker I have seen
      .. I don’t see him being in on third down. ..

      • Gary Stewart

        erick i never said he was going to pass block on 3rd down i called him a weapon the opposing defenses will have to count him when he slips out into the flats and if they don’t he can get 20-30 yards on a screen pass in no time btw blocking is not what we got him for anyway if he learns to chip block he should work out well for the rams he was not asked to block often for auburn as they were a run first offense sound familiar?? oh yeah so are the rams what do you know!!

        • Glenn HENDRIKSEN

          …….Mr. STEWART……..you get a ‘LIKE’ from me………….

  • James Mullen

    Has anyone looked at film of Justin Veltung. Definitely worth a look. T.J. Moe also is a good addition. All this talk about size. You don’t have the size to be a true #1, etc., etc. Of course neither did Ellard, Hakim, Bruce, Holt, or that guy we passed on, yes, maybe we figured he wasn’t tall enough. So in one of our biggest draft blunders of all time we took Eddie Kennison over Marvin Harrison??? I remember every one was pumped, or most of us anyhow, last year when we moved up a few slots and drafted Austin. And now a lot of the same people are pissed because we didn’t take Watkins this year. And those same people were upset that we missed out on Blackmon. Glad we don’t have to regret that one. So you never know. I recall a guy named Rice having quite a few drops his rookie year. And for the most part it takes WR’s a couple of years to adjust to the NFL. I would have liked to have seen us pick up at least one of the many outstanding receivers in this years class, but on the other hand I believe we have good receivers. And I’m glad we have guys like Givens, Bailey, & Pettis. I’m especially happy that we have Austin. This guy is dynamic. Every time he touches the ball I get excited that something great is going to happen. The way he makes good players look bad in the open field is ridiculous. He was hurt by stupid penalties & some dropped balls last year. But the talent is undeniable. Can’t wait to see him in action again. GO RAMS!