St. Louis Rams 2012 NFL Mock Draft | Two Rounds
The St. Louis Rams went from near-playoff darlings in 2010 to a hapless bunch that couldn’t score or stop anyone in 2011. Clearly the Rams front office felt it was time for yet another change, as head coach Steve Spagnuola was sent packing, and veteran head coach Jeff Fisher was brought in on a rescue mission.
As bad as things got last season, the Rams are in a beautiful position as they enter the 2012 NFL Draft. They currently hold the number two overall selection, which is great by itself, but they also know that a handful of teams will be willing to pay a king’s ransom to get that pick.
This means the Rams can award the highest bidder the second overall selection, and get a plethora of picks in return. We can’t be sure who they deal with or what package of picks they get, but we can at least analyze the guys they’d be looking to nab in the first and second round.
1st Round Pick – 2nd Overall
The Rams have already said they’re trading this pick, while the top trade candidates appear to be the Cleveland Browns (4th overall), Washington Redskins (6th), Miami Dolphins (9th), and the Seattle Seahawks (12th).
Option #1: Trade Down With Cleveland
I know the Browns have shied away from this lately, but they can’t be serious about Colt McCoy as their future. If they retain Peyton Hillis, trading up seems even more likely, as drafting Trent Richardson at the fourth spot makes little sense anymore. They have to be the front-runner for now, as they hold the fourth spot, as well as the 22nd overall selection. If they’re willing to give up those picks and maybe a second or third-rounder, they might have themselves a deal to land Robert Griffin III.
But enough about the Browns. The point is, this deal makes the most sense if Cleveland is game, as the Rams appear to get the most bang for their buck. The beauty of this trade is that they only drop two spots, which allows them to go after two or three guys they covet.
Those guys appear to be USC tackle Matt Kalil, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, and LSU corner Morris Claiborne. St. Louis has a major need at receiver, arguably even if they do bring back Brandon Lloyd, could use the help on a leaky offensive line, and have virtually no real talent left in their secondary. Chances are, if they make this deal and sit at the fourth spot, they’re taking one of those three guys.
Option #2: Trade Down With Washington
While the Browns are at least for now quieting down in the draft day trade rumor mill, the Redskins seem to only be heating up. Reports broke recently that the Redskins are willing to pay a significant amount to land Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, and that could mean sacrificing a few picks in the 2012 NFL Draft and next year’s draft.
If the Redskins offer (which is believed to be their 6th overall this year, a first-rounder in 2013, and other picks) ends up being what the doctor ordered for St. Louis, they’d sit at the sixth spot in this year’s draft, and could add a couple more picks in the second and/or third rounds.
The trick here is that at six, the Rams can almost certainly say good-bye to studs like Matt Kalil and Morris Claiborne, and could potentially also lose out on receiver Justin Blackmon.
However, if Blackmon slips past the Vikings, he should slide to six, where the Rams will be happily waiting. If the pick isn’t Blackmon at the sixth spot, then it’s down to LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers or North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples. The Rams could use some help stopping the run, which Brockers would immediately help do, while the talented Coples builds on a strength, and could eventually give the Rams one of the best pass-rushing rotations in the league with Robert Quinn and Chris Long.
Option #3: Trade Down With Miami or Seattle
It’s an even split, as the difference between picking at two, four, or six and picking at nine or 12 is night and day. Basically the Dolphins or Seahawks would have to blow the Rams’s socks and hats off for this to happen, but we still can’t rule it out.
If St. Louis makes a deal with Miami and slips down to nine, they could be looking at a very solid offensive tackle prospect in Iowa’s Riley Reiff. Reiff isn’t Kalil, but he’s really not that far off, and he’d still be a heck of an addition on a weak o-line.
The Rams could also opt to improve their woeful secondary with Dre Kirkpatrick, although some may say he’d be a bit of a reach at nine, while offensive Jonathan Martin could potentially grade higher than Reiff and be an interesting pick. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers could also potentially drop to nine, as well.
2nd Round Pick – 33rd Overall
Like I said, the Rams are in a really nice spot. They have a huge advantage with a ton of outs in the first round, and then they have the chance to start things off with a bang in round two, with the first pick of the round.
Depending on how things shake out, there’s a pretty good chance the Rams still have a shot at Mike Adams with this pick, while Jonathan Martin could potentially fall this far.
If none of the tackle prospects fall that far, or if the Rams address that need in the first round, they could look at corner Janoris Jenkins, or make a splash at wide receiver with California’s Marvin Jones. While highly unlikely, South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery would be an excellent grab (and steal) if he somehow slipped out of the first round.
Beyond their own second round picks, it’s interesting to wonder what else the Rams could be doing in the second round, as they could have any combination of round two picks via a trade with the Browns, Redskins, Seahawks, or Dolphins (or another team?).
In the second round, Cleveland picks at number 37, Washington picks at 39, Miami picks at 42, and Seattle at 43.
Depending on which pick they’d be snagging, the Rams could take a look at offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders, as well as corners Brandon Boykin and Alfonzo Dennard. Taking a look at a running back (should they be available) like David Wilson, Chris Polk, or Isaiah Pead could be an idea, too, as Steve Jackson isn’t getting any younger.
Again, if the Browns are up for it, they really seem to be the team to deal with when you look at this year’s draft, as St. Louis could potentially be making selections at 4, 22, 33, and 37 overall. Some people would have a hard time not confusing them with the New England Patriots.
Ultimately, as long as Cleveland gets their interest level back up, I think they’re the team the Rams make the deal with. If the Browns bow out, Washington would take the cake with two first-round picks in back to back seasons, along with additional picks.
Kevin Roberts owns and operates NFL Soup and heads the fantasy football division of the site. Roberts also finished 2nd in the Wide Receiver position in Fantasy Pros expert fantasy football rankings in 2010 and 3rd in the Quarterback position in 2011. In addition to running the fantasy football section of the site, Roberts contributes to NFL Soup's NFL Draft coverage and breaking news reporting. Follow Kevin on Twitter @NFLSoupKevin