2012 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams Deal With A New Set Of Picks

The St. Louis Rams have reportedly traded the No. 2 overall pick to the Washington Redskins for three first-round selections and a second-round pick.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: St. Louis Rams' Coach Talks Trade With Cleveland Browns

I'm not sure I appreciate St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher horning in on my territory, here; making up 2012 NFL Mock Draft rumors is the internet's job, not some multi-millionaire head coach who actually has a say in personnel decisions. He told Mike and Mike in the Morning that the Rams would consider all trade offers, which is one thing—he also specifically mentioned the Cleveland Browns, which is another thing.

So far all that thing is is weird; I'm not sure what the Browns would do with the sixth pick that they won't do with the fourth, and I'm not sure the Rams have any need to trade up unless—and god knows I hope I'm wrong—they're interested in Trent Richardson and afraid they can't get him.

So thanks, Jeff Fisher—first you take my gig, then you ruin my appetite. I appreciate it.

That was sarcasm, Jeff, just in case you didn't catch it; that's the other thing we overproduce on the internet.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Michael Floyd Could Overtake Justin Blackmon As Draft Day Approaches

If you learn one thing from this especially protracted 2012 NFL Mock Draft cycle, let it be this: No amount of good or bad momentum can overpower a later trust of good or bad momentum. Michael Floyd is this week's primary beneficiary; after falling back toward the bottom of the first round in February and March, Floyd has come so far as to threaten Justin Blackmon's wide receiver primacy in certain mocks; he's even gone to our own St. Louis Rams once or twice at No. 6.

Of course, this is the news cycle at work. Michael Floyd hasn't done anything good or bad to justify this move; it's just that he's Blackmon's big, athletic opposite number in the exact moment that Blackmon has been attacked by some, or at least pigeon-holed, as "strictly a possession receiver."

I remain convinced that this switch is a fluke, more about that protracted news cycle than anything else. But I also wouldn't feel especially bad if the Rams ended up with either one of these receivers.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Rams Select RB Trent Richardson In Latest Mock Draft

The St. Louis Rams may look to upgrade their running according to the latest mock draft conducted by the SB Nation team blogs. In the mock draft, each of the individual team blogs in the SB Nation network made selections for their corresponding teams.

The Rams blog Turf Show Times selected RB Trent Richardson of the Alabama Crimson Tide:

6. St. Louis Rams - Alabama RB Trent Richardson (via Turf Show Times):

The Rams desperately need skill players on offense. Blackmon is a better fit given the need at receiver, but Richardson is a superior talent. He compares well with Steven Jackson, who has since lost his speed and explosiveness as a result of being leaned on so heavily in the last five years. Richardson can be a feature back or a one-two punch with Steven Jackson. The offense can use the pairing to create mismatches and draw the attention of defenses, which would ideally free up some space on the field for their receivers.

The 2012 NFL Draft starts on April 26 and ends the following Saturday, April 28.

For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis. For more in-depth Rams coverage, head over to Turf Show Times. For more on the 2012 NFL Draft, check out SB Nation's dedicated section and Mocking the Draft.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Has Justin Blackmon's Star Fallen?

In recent months' 2012 NFL Mock Drafts Justin Blackmon, the consensus No. 1 wide receiver, has gone as high as third overall, but recent trends suggest his momentum could be on the wane. Mocking the Draft does a fine job at the link of showing just how broad-based his fall has been; he's fallen back in general, against other wide receivers—Michael Floyd has occasionally been mocked ahead of him—and even in scouting reports working with the same information they've always had.

That, of course, is the most peculiar part; the player who was sure-handed and dynamic, a nearly complete No. 1, in February has now, in some circles, been downgraded to "just" a possession receiver. Blackmon was never A.J. Green or Julio Jones, but it's been surprising to see how quickly his star has fallen. The good news is that this makes it more likely still that the St. Louis Rams will be able to nab him at No. 6...

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Trent Richardson, St. Louis Rams Continue Dangerous Flirtation

It looks like those of us who both enjoy the St. Louis Rams and believe Trent Richardson—and running back as a position—is overrated are now completely out of luck for the remainder of 2012 NFL Mock Draft season: The No. 6 pick and the back that launched a million Adrian Peterson comparisons are inseparable as of late, with Mike Mayock the latest convert.

Trent Richardson might be the next Adrian Peterson, but it's worth noting that Adrian Peterson has only been The Adrian Peterson—who takes 300 carries and can carry an offense on his back, or even who had 238 incredible carries as a rookie—three times in five years. Last year he took 208 carries in 12 games; he's 27 and he's almost definitely played his best football already.

Either a running back makes your team great now, because now is when he's playing his best football, or why draft him? The Rams had a pretty good running back last year, and they sucked. Trent Richardson won't make them great, but he will start the odometer already.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Who's Still In On Justin Blackmon?

Here are the primary 2012 NFL Mock Draft questions for St. Louis Rams fans, so far as I can tell: Who else needs Justin Blackmon? Who else is still interested in drafting him? With Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III pinned to their spots on the draft board, the Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all that stands ominously between the Rams and their prized wide receiver quarry.

The Vikings, at least, shouldn't take Justin Blackmon. They have Matt Kalil sitting in their laps, but they've still at least pretended to be interested, if only so they can later yell, "Psych!" and give the Browns a boogie. The Browns are the biggest threat to the Rams' Blackmon dreams; Pat Shurmur would love him, and Colt McCoy will need him. But they appear to be at least as into Trent Richardson.

As for the Buccaneers—well, someone has to take Morris Claiborne in these mock drafts, and for the most part it's them.

That leaves the Rams at No. 6. The path—three other teams performing complex draft calculus—is fraught, but the Rams could still end up with Blackmon on draft day.

Here's more NFL Mock Draft coverage and analysis, handpicked from SB Nation St. Louis:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Could St. Louis Rams, Justin Blackmon Be A Near Miss?

Last year the St. Louis Rams were pegged almost-right in the NFL Mock Draft. 2012 might see the same near-miss transference; if it does, what would that mean for the Rams and their omnipresent mock draft pick, Justin Blackmon?

In 2011 the Rams, sitting at No. 13, found themselves connected to Corey Liuget for most of the mock draft season—and they might have chosen him, except that a superior defensive prospect, Robert Quinn, eventually fell to them there. Quinn was strong in his first season with the Rams—though for whatever reason he didn't play very much.

Justin Blackmon is the top prospect in his category, but the 2012 equivalent of this move comes in good news and bad news varieties for your correspondent. The good news would be if Matt Kalil were somehow still available at No. 6; an outstanding offensive lineman is the only thing that could help Sam Bradford even more than Blackmon would.

The bad news: Trent Richardson. He's a better running back than Justin Blackmon is a wide receiver, but he's still a running back. There are probably some great kickers out there, too.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Trent Richardson Wouldn't Improve The St. Louis Rams Right Away

My 2012 NFL Mock Draft nightmare: I move leisurely toward the St. Louis Rams' No. 6, putting players where I think they belong one after the next, only once I get there I realize that there's nobody left for the Rams to take except Trent Richardson. That's how it goes in the latest SB Nation draft, where the Cleveland Browns nab Justin Blackmon. I've said this a million times, but blogging as a medium is about repeating yourself a million times: If the Rams want to get better right now, drafting another good running back isn't the way to do it.

This isn't even specifically about running backs' lower profile in a modern NFL offense, though it hooks in there; it's about what Steven Jackson is doing already. Last year he ran the ball 260 times for 1145 yards, 4.4 per carry, running the ball for five touchdowns. The Rams finished 2-14.

Richardson might be better than Jackson now, slowed as he is by age and injury. But how many wins better can he be? How many wins better can any running back be?

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Ryan Tannehill Could Be This Year's Green Room Tragedy

With the internet providing hourly 2012 NFL Mock Draft updates, a player's momentum heading into draft day is more fluid and more artificial than it's ever been before. That means a lot of things, but for fans of awkward television it means one thing most of all: The odds of a green room tragedy, an erstwhile top-10 lock finding himself stuck in the studio until the end of the first round, are higher than ever. The most likely winner of this dubious prize in 2012 is none other than the No. 3 quarterback, former Browns target Ryan Tannehill.

He falls to No. 15 in the latest SB Nation mock draft, which isn't as bad as it could get—the Philadelphia Eagles would like him, but he's far from necessary on a team that wants to compete right now. Tannehill's a good quarterback prospect, but his top-five positioning looked from the beginning to be—at least in part—an illusion caused by the gravitational pull of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Michael Floyd Leapfrogs Justin Blackmon To St. Louis In One Mock

Now, I think, I've seen every possible permutation of the St. Louis Rams' No. 6 pick in the 2012 NFL Mock Draft: Gil Brandt of NFL.com thinks Michael Floyd, who's fallen as far as No. 19 in a lot of mocks, could leapfrog Justin Blackmon and go as early as that very No. 6 pick. Floyd as "the next Larry Fitzgerald" is a lot to take in, but I suppose I'm willing to believe that he has a higher potential upside than Blackmon; the two were relatively similar as draft prospects last year, before Floyd's DUI sent him hurtling toward the supplemental draft.

For all that, I still expect the Rams to take Justin Blackmon if they get the chance. This isn't a team that can afford to take a risk on the next Larry Fitzgerald if he might turn into the old Michael Floyd; they have too much invested in Sam Bradford, and too little gained in free agency, to take such a big risk with a player who will need to be his No. 1 option immediately.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Sam Bradford's Needs Dominate St. Louis Rams' Picks

The St. Louis Rams are a cheap date in most recent 2012 NFL Mock Draft gigs: Select Justin Blackmon, move on with your life. That's true in particular, but it's also true in general—whatever the Rams do with their 2012 draft picks, it's going to have to be dominated by what Sam Bradford needs to succeed in the NFL.

They've simply invested too much in Bradford—financially and in terms of personnel—to behave otherwise. So whether it's Blackmon, or an offensive lineman, or even (the fundamentally misguided decision to select) Trent Richardson, the moves they make with their newfound draft picks are going to center around making their 2010 No. 1 pick better.

Blackmon probably has the best chance of doing that right now—here's some additional mock draft analysis about how likely it is he'll get the chance:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Ryan Tannehill, Trent Richardson Could All Go Ahead Of St. Louis Rams' Pick

A 2012 NFL Mock Draft article of faith: the Cleveland Browns are interested in two players the St. Louis Rams don't and probably shouldn't, respectively, have any interest in drafting. Ryan Tannehill and Trent Richardson could both go ahead of the Rams' No. 6 pick, but it's especially unlikely that both of them escape the Browns at No. 4. This is only good news for the Rams—if the Browns stay out of the Justin Blackmon sweepstakes Sam Bradford is that much more likely to find his downfield soulmate.

Tannehill, for my money, seems among the players most likely in this draft class to slide way down the first round. What's caused his current position is entirely external—teams' apparent need for quarterbacks, their regret at losing out on the Robert Griffin III sweepstakes, et cetera. His own skills had barely gotten him into the first round before this run, and it's likely they'll push him further down if the Browns and the Miami Dolphins come to their senses.

More 2012 NFL Mock Draft analysis, handpicked from SB Nation St. Louis:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Advised To Trade Down, Confuse Rams

I'm always interested in local 2012 NFL Mock Drafts, and FOX Tampa Bay has a novel suggestion for its Buccaneers: Trade down. You might be aware of the immediate repercussions of this action: The St. Louis Rams would have their draft plan thrown into serious confusion by a team that is interested in Trent Richardson as a best-case scenario and Justin Blackmon as a worst.

The FOX guys go on to suggest the Buccaneers would go for the middle linebacker they need in the 12-15 range, which works for me if it's, say, the Seattle Seahawks, who have a ton of defensive needs, and less fine if it's the Arizona Cardinals, who are in a position to upgrade Kevin Kolb's receiving corps.

More NFL Mock Draft coverage from SB Nation St. Louis, whose obsession with Justin Blackmon is totally legal:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Will Blaine Gabbert Force The Jaguars' Hand?

Things keep almost working out for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the average 2012 NFL Mock Draft. The Jaguars will do anything to make Blaine Gabbert, their 2011 pick, look competent as soon as possible. The best option would be top wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The St. Louis Rams, one of the only teams more determined to protect their young quarterback with offensive options, traded down—but they traded down right in front of the Jaguars. Welp.

Could the Jaguars' need for a Gabbert renaissance lead to Michael Floyd exiting the draft board early? It's a real possibility—but it seems more likely that the Jaguars, who watched Gabbert get sacked 40 times in just 14 starts last year, reach for an offensive lineman.

The other option, which terrifies this Rams fan, is that the Jaguars say enough's enough and trade up to ensure they get Blackmon on draft day, leaving Sam Bradford and the Rams stuck in the Danny Amendola era.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: What Happens If The Cleveland Browns Reach For Ryan Tannehill?

Some days it looks like the average 2012 NFL Mock Draft is beginning to settle down—and other days, the Cleveland Browns freak out and select Ryan Tannehill, throwing the whole thing into disarray. The Browns are the Top 5's last wild card; out of the Robert Griffin III sweepstakes and under fire from their fanbase, they could plausibly draft just about anybody. But it's reaching for the draft's third-by-a-lot-best-quarterback that could really confuse things for the St. Louis Rams (and everybody else behind them.)

Right now the draft up to the Rams shakes out into two tiers—there's Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Matt Kalil, who are extremely likely to go in that order, and then there's Morris Claiborne, Trent Richardson, and Justin Blackmon, who could go in any order. If the Browns reach for Tannehill the Jacksonville Jaguars will have their pick of the second tier guys at No. 7; more importantly for Rams fans, St. Louis will have a better chance of selecting Justin Blackmon—or at least their choice of two second-tier guys, instead of just one.

Also the Browns will be roundly booed. More hand-picked NFL Mock Draft analysis and recaps from SB Nation St. Louis:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Could Trent Richardson Take Carries From LeGarrette Blount?

The new 2012 NFL Mock Draft over at DraftCountdown has a pick I haven't seen much to date in its Top 10: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the usual Cleveland Browns move, selecting Trent Richardson with their No. 5 choice—and, while they're at it, probably scaring anybody who was thinking about drafting LeGarrette Blount in the upcoming fantasy football season.

Blount was outstanding as an undrafted rookie, but problems with injury and keeping his hands on the ball have left the Buccaneers less certain than most teams would be about most 26-year-olds who've averaged 4.6 yards per carry over their first two seasons.

There's certainly room for both players in the Bucs' system; Blount is useless in the receiving game, so Richardson could begin his career in that role before taking over full-time later on. Of course, Blount has already voiced his displeasure at the idea of the whole thing, so who knows just how it would go down in the locker room. Besides, "Probably badly."

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Morris Claiborne And Cleveland Browns Connected In Surprise Mock

The new 2012 NFL Mock Draft from DraftCountdown pulls away from the status quo in one brief way in the increasingly settled Top 10 picks: Morris Claiborne goes to the No. 4 Cleveland Browns instead of the No. 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a major surprise. The Browns have apparently suggested they'll take the best player available—but after a poor season from Colt McCoy and a disastrous attempt to trade for Robert Griffin III, foiled when the St. Louis Rams took the Washington Redskins' offer, it would still be a surprise to see the Browns make a defensive upgrade.

Of course, they might be better off—reaching for Ryan Tannehill could be a disaster at No. 4, and Trent Richardson will put up impressive numbers but can only go so far, as a running back, toward bringing a team out of the dirt. Claiborne would disappoint Browns fans—and the team did an excellent job of keeping opposing quarterbacks out of the end zone in 2011—but at least he wouldn't be a response to their failure to secure Griffin.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Justin Blackmon's Scouting Report Looks Perfect For St. Louis Rams, Browns

Justin Blackmon and the St. Louis Rams have been connected semi-permanently from the moment the Rams traded their No. 2 pick to the Washington Redskins, and for good reason: He's always made sense, even back when he was an overdraft. With Matt Kalil probably out of the picture at No. 6 and Cortland Finnegan anchoring the secondary, he's now the only player that makes sense. SB Nation's new YouTube channel makes this point in their Justin Blackmon video scouting report:

A reliable possession receiver who could stretch defenses and come in and start immediately? Sounds pretty good to me, and I'm not even Sam Bradford! The report, of course, makes the other point while it's at it: He'll have to get past the Minnesota Vikings and the Cleveland Browns before the Rams have a chance at him.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: David DeCastro Leads Rams' Non-Kalil O-Line Options

We haven't talked a lot, in our suffocating 2012 NFL Mock Draft coverage, about the St. Louis Rams trading down again, but the possibility definitely exists, especially if Justin Blackmon moves too far over or under their target range. At that point, the Rams' needs could shift toward the offensive line, which they seemingly abandoned when they traded out of a likely Matt Kalil selection at No. 2. In the hopper should the Rams trade down a few picks is Stanford guard David DeCastro, who goes to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 11 in the latest WalterFootball.com mock.

The Rams certainly have flashier needs, and after Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold it's easy to suffer from o-line fatigue. But keeping Sam Bradford on his feet is certainly one of the Rams' primary needs, and if wide receivers prove somehow untenable on draft day it will be worth keeping one eye on DeCastro.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Michael Floyd's Position A Precarious One

The most readily apparent thing to a St. Louis Rams fan looking at SB Nation's latest 2012 NFL Mock Draft is that Matt Kalil falls to them at No. 6, thanks to the Minnesota Vikings' oft-reported interest in Morris Claiborne and some other smokescreen types. But just past that is another interesting draft question: Just how much power the Rams' actions have over the rest of the first round. In general, when they've selected Justin Blackmon in a mock draft, Michael Floyd goes early; when they don't, and he falls at least to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 7, the former Notre Dame wide receiver could go all the way to the Chicago Bears at No. 19.

Such is the power of the Rams, who are the first team in the draft order to really, really need a wide receiver as soon as possible. Bears fans tired of watching Jay Cutler flounder and unwilling to settle for just Brandon Marshall should consider starting the chain-reaction by planting awful rumors about Matt Kalil in the Minnesota press.

More handpicked SB Nation St. Louis mock draft analysis:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Cleveland Browns Could Change Draft Completely With Ryan Tannehill Pick

The 2012 NFL Mock Draft industry has lurched into its last month, and with the top three picks all but settled the attention has turned to the consensus next-three-picks—Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson—and their new, position-dependent interloper, quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Everything comes down to this: What will the Cleveland Browns do? If they take one of the established three, the draft will move as expected. If they take Tannehill—well, anything could happen.

Turf Show Times has a good summary of what that could mean for The St. Louis Rams, selecting at No. 6; if somebody picks Tannehill, they'd suddenly be able to make a choice between whichever of the two second-tier guys the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leave for them, instead of being stuck with the last one remaining. They might even end up with Matt Kalil, though that seems exceedingly unlikely.

More pragmatically, it leaves them with a slightly better chance of ending up with Justin Blackmon. Which is all I can ask for.

SB Nation St. Louis is conducting its own 2012 NFL Mock Draft pick-by-pick leading up to the draft. Here's more draft recaps and analysis handpicked from our storystream:

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NFL Draft 2012: Michael Floyd Or Stephen Hill If Justin Blackmon's Off The Board?

Here's a novel suggestion at Turf Show Times: Stephen Hill, not Michael Floyd, as the top not-Justin-Blackmon wide receiver in the 2012 NFL Draft. Hill, a big, fast wide receiver for Georgia Tech, is all the way down at No. 4 in WalterFootball.com's wide receiver prospect rankings, and this is one of those situations where even if he tops the Rams' draft board it makes no sense to take him at No. 6, simply because nobody else will.

In any case, Hill is a high-variance pick who could make a lot of sense with one of the Rams' second-round picks. With Georgia Tech Hill was doomed to relative anonymity; he simply wasn't going to get thrown to enough, no matter how good he was. Any product of the combine is at least a little frightening, but if he's still around in the second round—especially if the Rams find themselves without Justin Blackmon—he makes a lot of sense.

More NFL Draft coverage handpicked from SB Nation St. Louis:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd Could Be Gone In A Hurry

WalterFootball.com, more famous for its own 2012 NFL Mock Draft, kicked off April with a reader-created mock draft made up of picks conducted by reader vote, and the results suggest that the St. Louis Rams could get away with a top-tier wide receiver—but only barely. They grab Justin Blackmon at No. 6 overall, but the Jacksonville Jaguars, desperate to save their Blaine Gabbert pick from last year, snag formerly free-falling Notre Dame star Michael Floyd at No. 7.

That's an early slot for the second-best receiver in the draft, especially given his DUI and the other character concerns floating around him, but the Jaguars need Gabbert to succeed, or else they'll be selecting another quarterback in 2013. And then another wide receiver in 2014, and so on, indefinitely. They have a lot of needs, but if they want the fanbase to believe in their offense—especially after they passed on Tim Tebow—they'll have to give Blaine Gabbert a little something to work with.

SB Nation St. Louis is just happy that something isn't Justin Blackmon in this mock. More mock draft analysis:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Washington Redskins' Second Quarterback Gamble Has Good Precedent

When they traded for the St. Louis Rams' No. 2 pick with the poorly disguised intention of choosing Robert Griffin III, the Washington Redskins had to know they were getting an NFL Mock Draft genre, and not just a player. It's true: They aren't just drafting Griffin, they're drafting the official Second Quarterback of 2012. Griffin comes highly touted, as far as that genre goes, which is good—especially because No. 2 quarterbacks seem to have produced about as well as their No. 1 counterparts.

In the last 10 years, the Second Quarterback slot has produced some of the NFL's best and worst (and most anonymous) quarterbacks. In 2001 Drew Brees went 31 picks after Michael Vick—which worked out pretty well for the New Orleans Saints, if not the San Diego Chargers; in 2004 it produced Philip Rivers (No. 4), which did work out well for the Chargers (and the Giants), and in 2005 the Green Bay Packers, denied Alex Smith, chose Aaron Rodgers with the No. 24 pick.

What's more, the busts seem to come when the No. 1 quarterback wasn't very good anyway. Sure, Joey Harrington (No. 3) sucked, but David Carr (No. 1) has been just as ineffective; sure, Carlos Palmer (No. 1) was better than Byron Leftwick (No. 7), but he didn't quite lead to a new era of prosperity for the Cincinnati Bengals. So if nothing else, the Redskins can take comfort in this: Andrew Luck is really, really good.

More NFL Mock Draft analysis handpicked from SB Nation St. Louis:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts A Near-Lock

This isn't going to be one of those 2012 NFL Mock Drafts. I don't want to make things too obvious throughout, but I'm not going to pretend that there's any plausible reason to suggest that the Indianapolis Colts might take Robert Griffin III—late of the St. Louis Rams, kind of—instead of Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. You don't dump Peyton Manning to take a quarterback. You dump Peyton Manning to take the quarterback.

And Andrew Luck, whatever happens, is the quarterback prospect. He's got Sam Bradford's intangibles, he can outjump Cam Newton, he went to Stanford—after being forecast No. 1 already in 2011—and he's got perfect physical tools. RG3 is a great quarterback prospect, but there's a reason the Rams were able to trade him away without a second thought: He's not a transcendent quarterback prospect. Luck, through two years of increasingly heavy scouting, has been that guy.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft will go from 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: St. Louis Rams Trade Down From No. 6 In Strange Scenario

I like the way the new MTD 2012 NFL Mock Draft sets its cards down: It's eccentric; it knows it's eccentric; and it just wants to entertain you in the wake of all those samey mock drafts you've seen since the St. Louis Rams traded down the first time. That's right, the first time: In Brad Wells's newest mock draft, they've made yet another trade, moving down to 17 and 21 with the Cincinnati Bengals as dance partners. Is it a real rumor? Well, not yet. But it's interesting.

In this scenario the Rams switch out Justin Blackmon for Michael Floyd, who's fallen down draft boards of late and here reaches them at No. 17 overall. At No. 21 the Rams continue to rebuild a defensive line slowed down by age and decimated for salary cap reasons, choosing LSU's Michael Brockers. As for the usual suspects, Matt Kalil falls to No. 7—and if that happens, I don't want the Rams even thinking about trading the No. 6 pick—and Justin Blackmon goes all the way at No. 12, to the Seattle Seahawks.

More—more conventional—NFL Mock Draft coverage and recaps handpicked from SB Nation St. Louis:

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NFL Draft 2012: Ryan Leaf Arrest A Cautionary Tale For Just About Every Prospect

I hope everyone who is about to be taken in the 2012 NFL Draft saw this: Ryan Leaf was arrested Friday at his parole office, charged with criminal possession and burglary. It's only the latest piece in an incredibly depressing career that began when he was selected No. 2 overall behind Peyton Manning in 1998. Manning turned into the best quarterback of all time; Leaf threw 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions in three brutal seasons before things got even worse.

Sometimes we cover the NFL Draft like all of these players are nearly sure things; the worst, it seems, that could happen is that a player turns into Grant Wistrom, the St. Louis Rams' No. 6 pick that year, who became a defensive anchor for several years. Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon, Robert Griffin III—everybody's pictured as a future star.

But any of them could be Ryan Leaf. Any of them could be Andre Wadsworth, whose knee just gave out after the Arizona Cardinals picked him at No. 3. They could be Curtis Enis (No. 5) or, on the other side, Randy Moss (No. 21) or Hines Ward (No. 92.)

None of those outcomes is the likely one, but we'd do well to remember just where some of these unlikely outcomes come from.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Could Morris Claiborne Get Past Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

For some reason, drafting for need seems much more kosher in a 2012 NFL Mock Draft than it does in a 2012 NFL Actual Draft. There's just something about not actually parceling the players out to their particular teams that makes an overdraft seem more like a pleasant way of making sure everybody gets what he needs, and nothing more. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking Morris Claiborne at No. 5—as they do in the latest WalterFootball.com mock, among others—is far from a simple draft pick for need, but there is something of that need-and-wish-fulfillment going on in the pick's ubiquity.

It works on a few fronts. For one thing, Tampa Bay is a Defense Team; we imagine those teams that for 10 years, in the late-90s and early aughts, dominated that side of the ball and simply tried to remain adequate on offense, and the team in 2012 who finished 32nd overall in points allowed simply doesn't compute. For another, the Buccaneers' secondary is old and otherwise ineffective; Ronde Barber might still have a year or two left, but Aqib Talib, his 26-year-old counterpart, has a case of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon hanging over his head.

The Buccaneers need Morris Claiborne, and we think they want him, because we watched the Buccaneers when they loved defense and nothing else. It's a recipe for mock draft ubiquity, but it also makes a lot of sense.

More NFL Mock Draft analysis from SB Nation St. Louis:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Are The Cleveland Browns Out On Justin Blackmon?

The St. Louis Rams have chosen Justin Blackmon as the No. 6 pick in nearly every 2012 NFL Mock Draft since they traded the No. 2 pick to the Washington Redskins for the first camping-spot in the queue for Robert Griffin III, but their primary nemesis for the Oklahoma State wide receiver has been just as unwavering: The Cleveland Browns, who, at the No. 4 spot, seem set adrift between the untouchables at the top of the draft and the second tier—the players like Morris Claiborne, Trent Richardson, and, well, Blackmon.

In their most recent mock draft, though, WalterFootball.com drops this deadpan bombshell: The Browns won't choose Blackmon because Mike Holmgren doesn't believe in drafting wide receievers so early. This may or may not be true, but it's happened before—in 2001, when Holmgren was The Man in Seattle, the Seahawks chose Koren Robinson, who put together one big season before substance-abuse problems led to his eventual exit from the NFL.

According to the Canton Repository Holmgren doesn't want to "burn" the pick on a wide receiver, but burning the pick on Trent Richardson seems like an equally irresponsible option. Current Justin Blackmon threat level: Green-ish.

Here's more NFL Mock Draft analysis from SB Nation St. Louis, who has recently come off threat level: midnight:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Trent Richardson, St. Louis Rams Make Awkward Team In New Mock

Over at Mocking the Draft they've been bringing SB Nation's NFL team bloggers together for a league-wide 2012 NFL Mock Draft, and when the time came for the St. Louis Rams (Ryan Van Bibber of Turf Show Times) to choose the unthinkable had happened: The Cleveland Browns, as we've long worried about, swooped in and selected Justin Blackmon. With the odds-on favorite off the table, the Mock-Rams selected Trent Richardson, going for Steven Jackson insurance as an alternative form of Sam Bradford enhancement.

I'm on the record as being against this move—I just don't think running backs are valuable enough, or marginally valuable enough—but if the Browns select Blackmon this seems like a likely outcome. Richardson isn't going to change the Rams' fortunes, though, and if you have any doubt about that ask yourself how they've done the last two years with Steven Jackson.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Will St. Louis Rams Regret Losing Matt Kalil?

Matt Kalil was never the most exciting possibility for the St. Louis Rams, even when he was their default No. 2 pick in 2012 NFL Mock Drafts; they'd already expended major draft picks on Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold, and Rams fans were already itching for a playmaker to stand across the o-line from Sam Bradford. But nobody ever doubted Kalil's credentials as one of the best offensive line prospects in the last five years, and with the No. 6 pick locked in it's worth asking: Will the Rams regret not sticking around for Kalil?

WalterFootball.com's latest scouting report is certainly effusive enough. Kalil's a reliable, "elite pass protector" who combines top-shelf athleticism with a preternatural grip on technique. Wherever he goes—probably the Minnesota Vikings at No. 3—he'll immediately be an impact player.

All that suggests that Sam Bradford's going to have a harder time staying upright in 2012 now that the Rams have traded out of Kalil territory. But I don't think they regret it—at least not yet. A player like Justin Blackmon could make those sacks more worth it, and the two extra first-round picks they've snared should produce at least one useful o-lineman, if the position's still a hole.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Jonathan Martin Drops—Potentially To St. Louis Rams

Once the consensus No. 2 offensive lineman in the 2012 NFL Draft, a bad pro day performance has Jonathan Martin falling all the way to the last pick of the first round—to within one pick, more specifically, of the St. Louis Rams' first second-rounder—in SB Nation's latest 2012 NFL Mock Draft. It creates the mock-possibility of a major steal for a team that traded out of an open shot at super-prospect lineman Matt Kalil.

Martin could really only disappoint at pro day, where he was overshadowed by Andrew Luck from the start, and that's exactly what happened; none of his athletic metrics met expectations; he ran just a 5.33 40, aided by the wind, and was overshadowed even by fellow lineman in David DeCastro, who's shot up draft boards just as Martin's fallen down them. But by the second round all of that hardly seems relevant; if the Rams see him available there it'll be a lot like what happened with Robert Quinn in last year's first round. Martin, like Quinn, may have never quite deserved the plaudits he received heading into the draft, but 33rd overall... well, at that point it stops mattering.

Justin Blackmon and a first-round o-line talent would be a truly impressive draft haul for the Rams . If you want to know how likely that is, check out some more of our handpicked mock draft analysis:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Justin Blackmon Stays With St. Louis Rams In New Mock

The latest SB Nation 2012 NFL Mock Draft has a short passage—about the Andrew-Luck-or-Robert-Griffin-III non-controversy—that seems like a worthy comment on the NFL Mock Draft process in general; before we get back to talking about what Sam Bradford could do with Justin Blackmon instead of the St. Louis Rams' usual repertoire of reception, a block quote:

[Our] short attention spans forget just how good [Luck] is because we are not bombarded with daily reminders.

We are, of course, bombarded with daily mock drafts. So Luck and Griffin become interchangeable, just because we're tired of talking about them; so the Minnesota VIkings might not take Matt Kalil. So the Rams don't need a wide receiver terribly—just because them not needing one is something new to talk about, even if it's also ridiculous.

The Rams need a wide receiver Justin Blackmon is just about the sixth best player available, and the Rams managed to trade to that spot exactly, wouldn't you know it. If he's available, they'll almost certainly take him.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Andrew Luck-Robert Griffin III Switch Talk Continues, For Some Reason

I don't know when this started, but the first time I saw 2012 NFL Mock Draft writers—apparently bored with the status quo—switch Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III around was last week. Now it seems like every day there's a new piece of news designed to plant the thought inside draft fans' heads just long enough to get them to watch the first half-an-hour, where Luck and Griffin will be drafted. The latest: At FanNation, word that the National Football Post's observers believe Griffin to have a stronger arm than Luck.

Arm strength isn't everything, or even most things—god bless, Jamarcus Russell—but it's just another plank on the Griffin-Luck-switcheroo platform.

Which remains, I should add, completely implausible. Each of these teams has made an enormous sacrifice to get in position to draft their chosen quarterback—the Indianapolis Colts waived the best quarterback of all time, and the Washington Redskins traded the St. Louis Rams a million draft picks for the privilege of selecting Robert Griffin III. I don't see either of them deciding against Their Guy after that.'

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Could Michael Floyd Fall To Chicago Bears At No. 19?

As the St. Louis Rams seem linked inextricably to Justin Blackmon in 2012 NFL Mock Draft murmurings, I've become more and more interested in what Blackmon's movements mean to Michael Floyd, the second-best wide receiver on every draft board. Depending on where Blackmon goes—No. 4 to the Cleveland Browns is another, terrifying option—Floyd's fallen on draft boards everywhere from seventh to... well, No. 19, where he appears in the latest NFL.com mock.

That sends him all the way to the Chicago Bears, who will be rebuilding their offense after Mike Martz's unceremonious departure. They already have Brandon Marshall in the fold, but considering their top receiver last year was Johnny Knox, who caught 37 balls and suffered a serious back injury, I'm not sure they'll be stopping there.

All this leads me to wonder whether the Rams—or whoever gets Blackmon—are potentially overpaying. If the Rams could get Floyd that far back in the draft, it might be worth attempting to trade down for even more depth.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Morris Claiborne The St. Louis Rams' Justin Blackmon Fallback

For three weeks after the St. Louis Rams traded the Washington Redskins their No. 2 pick—basically Robert Griffin III—for the No. 6 and two more first-rounders, 2012 NFL Mock Draft types have given the Rams Justin Blackmon, despite the fact that the Cleveland Browns—choosing fourth overall—also need a wide receiver for their beleaguered young quarterback. Of late, a new counter-current has emerged: The Browns selecting Blackmon, leaving the Rams in the dark on their sixth overall pick.

The latest NFL.com mock draft leaves the Rams with Morris Claiborne—despite having signed Cortland Finnegan to an enormous contract. Claiborne is great, but the Rams' defense has already been the focus of their NFL free agency goings-on; if Sam Bradford can't get a wide receiver or an offensive lineman in the first round, things might be awkward.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Are The St. Louis Rams Ready For Justin Blackmon?

Ever since the St. Louis Rams traded their Robert Griffin III pick to the Washington Redskins 2012 NFL Mock Draft-makers have connected the Rams almost exclusively to Justin Blackmon, the top wide receiver in the draft and a natural fit at No. 6 overall. But Turf Show Times has an interesting counterpoint to the Rams-need-a-receiver point: Are the Rams ready to draft a receiver sixth overall?

In his formulation, the Rams are still deeply in need of an offensive lineman to protect Sam Bradford—just like they were in earlier mock drafts, where the Rams stayed at No. 2 and selected Matt Kalil. There are fewer offensive linemen who look like the best player available at No. 6, but if the Rams need one it might be worth trading down again to get him, instead of going through with the pick.

I think the Rams will pick Justin Blackmon, if he's available, and I'm in favor of it, but in listing Blackmon's and the Rams' deficiencies TST's Douglas M does a good job of explaining the case against it.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: St. Louis Rams Get Justin Blackmon If Others Draft To Stereotype

Here, I think, is the best way to summarize the St. Louis Rams' chances of snaring Justin Blackmon in any one 2012 NFL Mock Draft (or the real thing, for that matter): If the teams in front of the Rams draft according to stereotype, the Rams get Blackmon -- fulfilling their own stereotype, if you haven't updated it since 2001. If they don't, the Rams don't. Because all this comes down to whether the Cleveland Browns want a franchise running back, Trent Richardson, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers want a future defensive star, Morris Claiborne.

The latest Mocking the Draft mock is a great example. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are shoo-ins, and Matt Kalil is rapidly approaching shoo-in status at No. 3, but the Browns draft Trent Richardson because they're the Browns and the Buccaneers pick Morris Claiborne because they're the Buccaneers.

Don't get me wrong: I am entirely in favor of this kind of stereotyping. But that's mostly for Sam Bradford's sake. More similarly biased Mock Draft recaps and analysis from SB Nation St. Louis:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Matt Kalil "Set In Stone" For Minnesota Vikings

For a long time now, in all but the most contrarian 2012 NFL Mock Drafts, we've known what the top two picks will be: Andrew Luck to the Colts at No. 1, and Robert Griffin to the Redskins, via the St. Louis Rams, at No. 2. Now WalterFootball.com, one of the biggest of the mock drafters, is suggesting that No. 3 should be "set in stone" as well—they think there's simply no way the Minnesota Vikings won't take Matt Kalil.

They appear to be all in on Christian Ponder, despite his imperfect debut in 2011, and a super-tackle like Kalil would go a long way to justifying that leap of faith. (Note: I just realized that Christian, ponder, and "leap of faith" could be structured into some kind of horrifying super-pun. This is not my intent.) When you look at it that way, it's hard to see the pick going anywhere else—they have no need for a running back, Blackmon's just a reach when Kalil's around, and Morris Claiborne doesn't fit their defensive scheme.

It's hard to admit it, as someone who before the big trade wrote about countless mock drafts in which the Rams were guaranteed to choose Kalil at No. 2, whereupon Sam Bradford would never be sacked again and Danny Amendola would turn into Justin Blackmon anyway, with all that time, but it appears to be true: Matt Kalil is the next member of the Vikings. Begin ordering the jerseys. People always buy offensive lineman jerseys, right? That wasn't just Rams fans before Kurt Warner?

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Justin Blackmon Eerily Right For Cleveland Browns At No. 4

This is it, St. Louis Rams fans: This is what we've spent all this time worrying about. The Cleveland Browns finally seem to be aware that for Justin Blackmon to fall to the Rams at No. 6, they have to not pick him at No. 4. And as this Plain-Dealer blog post suggests, once that realization comes he rapidly becomes their best option. If the Browns want to give Colt McCoy another chance—he really was pretty good in 2010, if also pretty not-good in 2011—Blackmon might be the best weapon they can give him to survive another season.

This puts the Rams in a deeply awkward position—in the blog entry's accompanying mock, they pick Morris Claiborne, despite having just signed Cortland Finnegan to an enormous contract. St. Louis's best hope is that the Browns decide they want to emphasize the run and select Trent Richardson. Since that more or less involves hoping that the Browns have made a huge mistake, I'm skeptical of how well it will work, but never bet against an NFL team overvaluing a big running-game name.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: With St. Louis Rams, Justin Blackmon Would Have Sam Bradford To Himself

For 2012 NFL Mock Draft experts, a clarification about the St. Louis Rams' history of wide receivers, with an eye toward Justin Blackmon. Which is to say: It's not that the Rams have never had a good receiver for Sam Bradford—they've just never been able to keep one around. The canonical examples are Danario Alexander and Brandon Lloyd—one perennially injured, the other the one-hit star of a lame-duck offensive coordinator.

When Alexander was at his best, the offense looked much different from the slow-motion, stammering thing Bradford's led his first two years with the team. In 2010 Alexander had three games with at least 70 yards receiving; in 2011, despite all the issues, he added two more, while staying significantly healthier. His Week 2 performance against the New York Giants, the peak of McDaniels-ball, is the best example; in a game that saw Bradford go 22-for-46 for 331 yards against a briefly shell-shocked Giants defense, Alexander caught three balls for 122 yards and a touchdown. (Of course, even Mike Sims-Walker performed that night.)

That's the kind of thing the Rams will be expecting out of Justin Blackmon in his rookie season, minus the injuries—intermittent brilliance, with some (hopefully more metaphorical) pains in between. If he can do a good Danario Alexander impression, he'll find a major role immediately.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Trent Richardson The Most Reliable Player In The Draft?

NFL Mock Draft 2012 euphemism update: Recently Trent Richardson has been described in a few mocks as an especially reliable or sure-thingy choice in a top-of-the-draft that seems already to be filled with them. Richardson might be a great prospect—certainly the best running back—but what they really mean when they say that is this: Running backs are at their best in the first few years of their career, before their legs are crushed underneath them and they're forced out of football on crutches at 27.

Which is good if you'd like to win now, and all you're missing is a running back. Or if you have a lot of weapons for your young quarterback but you're missing a change-of-pace that can keep the pressure off him.

But: Neither of those describes the St. Louis Rams. Richardson is a great running back prospect, band the Rams will eventually need a new one. But now's not the time, and No. 6 overall is not the place.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: How Far Could Michael Floyd Fall?

Last year Michael Floyd was a fixture in the first half of the average mock draft, often ending up with the St. Louis Rams. This year—with some character issues and a possible trip to the supplemental draft behind him—Floyd seems to have remained remarkably stable in early 2012 NFL Mock Draft returns, often going just behind Justin Blackmon. But recently several mocks have showed what looks like a gradually declining draft stock for the Notre Dame alum—at the National Football Post he recently fell to 22nd, where the Cleveland Browns grabbed him for Ryan Tannehill, their first pick. Just how far is Floyd going to fall?

First: Probably not all the way to the Rams in the second round, though 22nd overall is weirdly close. Second: It all depends on whether the Rams select Justin Blackmon. If they do, Floyd is the clear second choice for any team that needs a wide receiver; if they don't, Blackmon could tumble a few spots himself, potentially confusing the Floyd market.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Justin Blackmon Will Have To Produce Early To Justify St. Louis Rams' Pick

One side of the ubiquitous St. Louis Rams 2012 NFL Mock Draft pick—Justin Blackmon at No. 6—is easy to consider. The Rams have a distinctly unimpressive set of wide receivers, and Blackmon would immediately slot in atop them. Here's the other, less flattering side of that: To justify the Rams' pick, Justin Blackmon would have to produce immediately, because the Rams don't have anybody else.

Which is not to say he wouldn't—the National Football Post's latest mock draft lists his ability to perform immediately among his strengths—but the pressure for Blackmon would be higher in St. Louis, where he has a supposed franchise quarterback and a guaranteed ton of touches, than it would be anyplace else.

Here's hoping he can do it—if he doesn't, the Rams will have to throw Danny Amendola the ball 125 times again.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Could Robert Griffin III And Andrew Luck Trade Places?

For most 2012 NFL Mock Draft types the first two picks have been settled since the moment the St. Louis Rams traded the No. 2 overall pick—and Robert Griffin III—to the Washington Redskins. But over at ESPN, Wednesday was devoted to a truly strange counterfactual: Could the Indianapolis Colts pick Robert Griffin III over Andrew Luck?

Well, yes, legally. But probably not. I have to admit I find the reasoning—which literally includes the suggestion that if they draft Griffin he'll have a lot to prove, which will make him a better player—flimsy at best. Here's the reason the Colts will select Andrew Luck: They dumped Peyton Manning, the best quarterback in the history of football, to draft him.

I suppose it's possible that the Colts dumped Peyton Manning with the intent of signing either one of these guys, but I doubt it. The Colts believe in Luck, the Redskins believe in Robert Griffin, and it's hard to see those picks moving, no matter how much more interesting it would make our mock drafts.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: The St. Louis Rams' Free Agency Experience Shifts Draft Priorities

After a brief break for NFL free agency, the 2012 NFL Mock Draft contingent is back in force—and tasked with rationalizing the changes worked on teams, some of which are already high up in the first round. The St. Louis Rams made some big moves—and with Cortland Finnegan and Scott Wells in, it looks like Morris Claiborne and Jonathan Martin are out. And Justin Blackmon is, somehow, even more in.

Claiborne was briefly seen as an interesting contrarian pick, as one of the very best players available and the stopped on a colossal positional hole made worse by a series of inexplicable injuries. But Cortland Finnegan's expensive arrival suggests the Rams consider the cornerback problem solved. Same with the various offensive line options—by signing Scott Wells, and, nearly as interestingly, not waiving Jason Smith, the Rams have already made a statement about protecting Sam Bradford.

But by failing to sign Mario Manningham, the Rams have made a statement by accident—that they have nothing to do to improve their wide receiver situation but to draft one. And last year's bargain picks, Greg Salas and Austin Pettis, haven't quite paid off. So: Hello Justin Blackmon. Again.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Trent Richardson A Good Fit For Cleveland Browns, Hopefully

I am on the record, in these 2012 NFL Mock Draft recaps, as not wanting the St. Louis Rams to select Trent Richardson with the No. 6 overall pick. Multiple times. (Scroll down for that rationalization. Er, those rationalizations.) But I do think that Trent Richardson has a valuable role to play in the Rams future: As the guy the Cleveland Browns might draft instead of Justin Blackmon with the No. 4 overall pick.

Richardson, as far and away the best running back prospect in the draft, wouldn't have a significant bearing on the Browns' most pressing issue—their failure to trade the St. Louis Rams for the right to sell a ton of Robert Griffin III jerseys. But that might be one way of getting around the quarterback problem—by getting outside the question as entirely and thoroughly as possible.

And more power to their question-dodging. I am on the record, multiple times, as saying that Justin Blackmon makes affair amount of sense for the Browns. I just don't want him to. Go, Trent, Go.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Where's Justin Blackmon Fit Among St. Louis Rams Receivers?

Most 2012 NFL Mock Draft experts are wisely not looking to draft for mock-need—in most cases teams should take the best player available, especially with the No. 6 pick in the draft. But as St. Louis Rams pundits it is worth guessing where presumptive pick Justin Blackmon would fit within the Rams' offense.

Not that it's difficult, only that it's worthwhile... the Rams have two playmakers in their offense who, at their best, are capable of doing some of the things Justin Blackmon can do. Steven Jackson needs no introduction, but he does need some capable teammates; Danario Alexander, for his part, needs to working knees.

And the Rams simply need Justin Blackmon. They don't have anybody like him, and in free agency and through trades they've proved unable to come up with any reasonable alternatives. I'm against drafting for need, as a rule, but at No. 6—unlike No. 2 earlier this month—it seems that Blackmon is both a need and the best player available. It's a nice trick, and it might be the whole key to the Rams' big Robert Griffin III trade.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd's Fates Tied To Rams' Pick

The St. Louis Rams will still have a lot of choices when they pick sixth overall, but ever since they traded that No. 2 pick (also known as Robert Griffin III) to the Washington Redskins 2012 NFL Mock Draft experts have behaved as though Justin Blackmon were the last player available. Which is fair—except that there's another 2011 draft holdover wide receiver who could go in the top 10 come April. Michael Floyd hasn't gotten much press yet as a Rams option, but some mocks have him little removed from the Rams, as Blaine Gabbert's... well, his Justin Blackmon.

I don't see the Rams selecting Floyd ahead of Blackmon—it seems like we'd have gotten wind of that earlier—but if Blackmon gets picked early it's easy to see, after the Rams' failed wide receiver bids in NFL free agency, a situation in which their top options are all wide receivers, for better or worse.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Could The Cleveland Browns Take Justin Blackmon From Under Rams' Mock Noses?

The 2012 NFL Mock Draft consensus is that the St. Louis Rams will take Justin Blackmon with the sixth overall pick in the draft. I believe in this consensus, because right now the Rams will have Danny Amendola and the remaining pieces of Danario Alexander running down Sam Bradford's passes. I do not believe that the Cleveland Browns necessarily won't take him.

Ryan Tannehill solves the Browns' immediate problem—which is that they didn't have what it took to trade for Robert Griffin III—but it seems like a bad move to replace Griffin in the fans' consciousness with a less-impressive, identical quarterback.

I only have enough insight into the Browns' collective dog-head to be worried by it, but in a scenario like this giving Colt McCoy another year—with Justin Blackmon as his new option—seems like a completely palatable option, to me. It's one I'm worried about, considering the Rams don't have much use for Ryan Tannehill.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Justin Blackmon, St. Louis Rams Reconnect In Latest Mock

The St. Louis Rams and Justin Blackmon were separated briefly by a wild week of free agency wrangling, but as things cool down the 2012 NFL Mock Draft machine has begun spinning once more. At SB Nation they've brought the two together again, leaving the Cleveland Browns with Ryan Tannehill and the various offensive linemen and defensive tackles connected to the Rams in the last few days with new owners.

The whole draft is worth checking out, but for Rams fans the suspense has really abated unless and/or until some new piece of information changes the debate. Right now Justin Blackmon seems to have pretty good odds against the field, and nothing the Rams did in NFL free agency served to change that. (In fact, all their flailing after Mario Manningham probably enhanced it.)

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams Go With Pass Protection In Contrarian Mock

Over at Mocking the Draft, in the fanposts sections, you'll find one of the most comprehensive, idiosyncratic 2012 NFL Mock Draft set-ups on the internet: Durst's 2012 MEGA MOCK. If you scroll down a surprisingly long distance to the No. 6 overall pick, where the St. Louis Rams have set up shop, you'll see a pick that, startlingly enough, is not Justin Blackmon. Instead Durst goes with Iowa OT Riley Reiff, reasoning that the Rams will have a better time with a second-round wide receiver than a second-round offensive lineman.

Certainly Sam Bradford needs protection almost as much as he needs a target—he was sacked 36 times last year in 10 starts, after going down just 34 times in all 16 2010 appearances—but it's hard to see the Rams passing up Justin Blackmon if they get the chance.

The key is that in Durst's mock, they don't—the Cleveland Browns, perhaps angry about not getting the Robert Griffin III pick, draft him at fourth overall.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Could The St. Louis Rams Trade Down Again?

The St. Louis Rams have already made a move that stopped 2012 NFL Mock Draft planners in their tracks,trading the No. 2 pick to the Washington Redskins for a bounty of draft picks, but are there any scenarios in which they trade down again? So far as I can tell, there's one: They're either not interested in Justin Blackmon, or it becomes clear that Blackmon is going to go ahead of them, possibly to the Cleveland Browns. If they do that... well, what's next?

Most of the other players to which they've been connected by enterprising mock drafters go between 10 and 15 in many mocks. Stanford OT Jonathan Martin, Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, even Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox could all go in that range—and if a team in that range wants to get closer to their chosen DT, for instance, the Rams would be a tempting target.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: St. Louis Rams Could Protect Sam Bradford With 1st Round Pick

The St. Louis Rams have been connected to Justin Blackmon with the No. 6 pick in so many 2012 NFL Mock Draft prognostications of late that it's easy to forget that before their big Washington Redskins trade barely a week ago they were constantly connected to Matt Kalil at No. 2 overall. Thanks to Robert Griffin III's big season the Mock Rams appear to have forgotten about poor Sam Bradford entirely.

At Rams Herd, they haven't forgotten. Enter: Stanford guard David Decastro, who went 14th in the latest SB Nation mock draft to protect the Dallas Cowboys' investment Tony Romo. Rams Herd makes a compelling argument—one centered around Decastro's talent relative to his position, which is a different and better concept than drafting for need—and you should read it.

For all that, I'm not sure if I can see the Rams making a leap like that in the first year of the new regime. Signing Pro Bowl center Scott Wells (himself a seventh-rounder) might be the extent of their full-bore investment in the offensive line—at least for now.

More draft coverage from SB Nation St. Louis, the official web site of Justin Blackmon going sixth overall:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: What Would The St. Louis Rams Do If Justin Blackmon Goes Early?

I'm going to be honest: It's becoming increasingly difficult, in my position as 2012 NFL Mock Draft aggregator, to find anybody suggesting the St. Louis Rams will choose anyone but Justin Blackmon with the sixth overall pick. In my position as Rams fan I'm fine with this development, but as a mock draft reader... well, it's getting a little boring. The mock drafters at FFToolbox have finally come up with a scenario in which the Rams pick somebody else: The Cleveland Browns choose him first.

I'm not sure I buy their suggested replacement—DT Fletcher Cox, who's floated in and out of the top 10 for a while now—but I buy the Browns' interest; they've recently acted as though they're ready to give Colt McCoy another chance as starting quarterback, and if they are it makes sense to give him a weapon.

If the Browns take Blackmon, where could the Rams go? We've covered some suggestions over the last week; click on for...

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: What Trent Richardson Would Mean For The St. Louis Rams

Most of the 2012 NFL Mock Draft prognosticating done about the St. Louis Rams in the wake of their massive trade with the Washington Redskins has, justifiably, gone to Justin Blackmon, the presumptive wide receiver of Sam Bradford's near future. That seems like the likeliest outcome here in March, but SB Nation's contrarian mock draft earlier this month suggested the Rams might be just as well served by Trent Richardson, "the most talented running back to come along since Adrian Peterson."

That's quite a statement, and if it's true the Rams could certainly do worse than selecting him as Steven Jackson's eventual replacement and, in the interim, new Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's favorite toy. Jackson's got a lot of miles on him already on the road between St. Louis and Canton, and the Rams can't roll the odometer back forever.

But the example of Steven Jackson is exactly what makes me leery about the Rams picking him. The Rams have had a running back who's had a better career than Adrian Peterson ever since the end of the Marshall Faulk era—and they've still managed to have one of the worst offenses in football over that time period. You can do the same thing with wide receivers, but that's the point: running backs simply aren't the focal point of an offense that old-school football minds and fantasy football players believe them to be.

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2012 NFL Draft: The St. Louis Rams' Trade For Picks Was Great, Until They Use Them

The St. Louis Rams made a great trade for the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 draft. Unless they actually have to use those new picks. Then we'll see.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Michael Floyd An Option For St. Louis Rams If Justin Blackmon Falls Through

I'm going to be honest, 2012 NFL Mock Draft mavens: I have no idea why the St. Louis Rams wouldn't select Justin Blackmon at No. 6, if given the chance. But if they don't—if someone jumps on him early, or they feel more pressing needs with that early pick and trade down a little more—I won't deny that Notre Dame's Michael Floyd makes more than a little sense. Floyd's been on the Rams' radar since back in 2011, when it looked like he'd declare for the draft a season early.

Of course, right now mock drafters have left the Rams limited room to make a move like this: WalterFootball.com's latest mock has Floyd going to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 7, for their even-needier young quarterback, Blaine Gabbert. That leaves room for Floyd only if Blackmon goes in the first five picks—and only then if the Rams value Floyd higher than they do every available player at every other position. SB Nation has Floyd going 16th—but then, they also have the Rams selecting Trent Richardson.

It's difficult but not impossible to imagine the Rams valuing two wide receivers more than everybody else on their board. If they do, Floyd remains a possibility.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Justin Blackmon Only Number One Option For Rams, Per Experts

The St. Louis Rams have been connected to Justin Blackmon so frequently in 2012 NFL Mock Draft updates since their Robert Griffin III-driven trade with the Washington Redskins that it's hard to imagine them picking anybody else. But it isn't just inertia that's driving the Blackmon bandwagon; the fact is, according to Charley Casserly, that Blackmon is the only real No. 1 wide receiver in this year's draft.

I'm sure Michael Floyd might disagree, but unless the Rams do to they're going to have a hard time passing up a true No. 1 option for Sam Bradford to throw to, especially given their inability to pick one up in free agency. This is the kind of draft luxury they can afford now that they're spending money on upgrading the defense and have the pick volume to upgrade, say, the offensive line. It wasn't true when that No. 2 pick could have been spent on Matt Kalil and Matt Kalil alone, but the market for Griffin forced the issue. To the Rams' possibly significant benefit.

Other NFL Draft and wide receiving updates from SB Nation St. Louis, whose crush on Justin Blackmon is real and spectacular:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Why Wouldn't The Rams Take Justin Blackmon?

The 2012 NFL Mock Draft scene has more or less settled on the St. Louis Rams selecting Justin Blackmon with the sixth overall pick they got, earlier this month, in a trade with the Washington Redskins. That makes a lot of sense: The Rams have a lot of chances to draft other players, now, and Sam Bradford needs a wide receiver who isn't Danny Amendola to throw to. Meanwhile, both their 2011 gambles—Austin Pettis and Greg Salas—appear to have flamed out. Blackmon's the Rams' best chance to cultivate a number-one wide receiver of their own.

So why wouldn't the Rams take Blackmon?

I've got three scenarios: First, the Rams could prove more interested than any of us expected in making Trent Richardson the Next Great Rams running back, even though Steven Jackson has a few good years yet. Richardson is a great prospect at the position, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Second, the Rams could go for Morris Claiborne, despite having just signed Cortland Finnegan. Third—in the words of Jeff Goldblum, there is no step three. At sixth overall, the Rams and Blackmon are meant to be.

Unless... someone else picks Justin Blackmon first.

More NFL Draft coverage hand-picked from SB Nation St. Louis:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Justin Blackmon-St. Louis Rams Rumors Drown Out Other Options

Back when the St. Louis Rams had the second overall pick in the draft they were linked to all kinds of players—but ever since they traded their Robert Griffin III rights to the Washington Redskins the 2012 NFL Mock Draft establishment has settled, permanently, around the Rams selecting Justin Blackmon with the sixth pick overall. The latest people to make that pick: Both of CBSSports.com's mock drafters.

Blackmon certainly makes more sense now that the Rams are outside the top five, but I think the most important realization has been that with two extra first-rounders and a spare second-rounder they'll be able to fill some of the less flashy positions even as they get Sam Bradford his long-awaited number-one option at wide receiver. Help on the offensive line is crucial, but with the RG3 trade in the books the Rams now have three extra chances to get it over the next three years.

More 2012 NFL Draft coverage from SB Nation St. Louis's tireless band of Justin Blackmon Boosters:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: St. Louis Rams' Robert Griffin III Bounty Adds Draft Depth

For a guy who will never put on a St. Louis Rams uniform, Robert Griffin III could have an enormous bearing on the team's future—and it's already showing in their 2012 NFL Mock Draft performance, if you like that sort of thing. In addition to moving them down to Justin Blackmon territory and giving them two additional first-rounders to work with in the future, he was worth the Washington Redskins surrendering this year's second-round pick, which gives the Rams two early second-rounders.

Those two early second-rounders might not sprout impact players, but for a team with as many holes as the Rams entered 2012 trying to patch, they could yield some vital role players. Scott Wright's DraftCountdown, for instance, has the Rams selecting DT Jerel Worthy and OT James Brown with their two picks in the 30s. Tackles on either side of the ball rarely get the blood pumping, but the Rams are in need of depth and upside at both positions; if they can fill both of them in one draft while still getting their man with Blackmon—well, it's almost enough to make me want to buy a Robert Griffin III Rams jersey.

More on the Rams' newly embiggened 2012 NFL Draft plans, from SB Nation St. Louis:

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: St. Louis Rams Could Use Redskins' Pick On Morris Claiborne

It’s finally happened, 2012 NFL Mock Draft writers—after months of wearying yourselves with speculation about whether the St. Louis Rams would trade the second overall pick to a team looking for Robert Griffin III, they’ve reportedly done it, trading down with the Washington Redskins for a sixth overall pick that’s been connected with them all along. Among the picks being suggested for that spot: Morris Claiborne.

In the latest SB Nation Mock Draft, of course, Claiborne actually ends up with the Cleveland Browns, the jilted RG3 lovers of the last few weeks, leaving the Rams with the even-more-speculated-about Justin Blackmon.

The Rams could certainly use a cornerback, given the wrecking ball that went through their defensive backfield last year, but they might have traded down a little too far to use their new pick on the most coveted corner in this year’s draft. Of course, this is why they made the trade in the first place: Now if they can’t fill all their needs in April, there’ll be another chance next year.

More reports about the Rams' near-future draft plans from SB Nation St. Louis:

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Robert Griffin III Trade Means The End Of St. Louis Rams' Non-Existent Quarterback Controversy

So: The St. Louis Rams have traded what amounts to Robert Griffin III for the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, two more first-rounders, and a second rounder. It’s a great haul for a team that needs more than one player and zero additional quarterbacks… and it also means the end of the non-existent quarterback controversy that pitted RGIII against the Rams’ savior-in-residence, Sam Bradford.

At SB Nation St. Louis we did our own hey-why-not stoking, asking why the Rams wouldn’t just select RGIII after all, and while the question creates some interesting thought experiments, the logistics are really just too much to deal with.

Now all that’s over: The Washington Redskins are done with Rex Grossman, and the Rams are all in on Bradford, who will get all the young talent he can reasonably expect if the Rams do a half-decent job of drafting with their forthcoming haul. Having taken one last minute to wonder what might have been, I’m more than happy with what’s actually happened.

For more on the trade, follow our NFL Draft story stream. Here’s more on the Rams and Redskins’ draft swap:

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Trent Richardson Could Be The St. Louis Rams' Steven Jackson Insurance

I've been proven wrong every year so far, but allow me, ahead of this 2012 NFL Mock Draft analysis, to make a prediction: At some point, Steven Jackson will become too old or too injured to play football for the St. Louis Rams at a professional level. It's a terrifying thought—especially given how much he's been injured already—but it will happen. For all that, I still don't like Todd McShay's suggestion that the Rams could be interested in Trent Richardson.

As a commenter in the article notes, one way of looking at Steven Jackson's tenure with the Rams is that even a team with a Hall of Fame-caliber running back working at the height of his powers is, in the NFL of 2012, capable of finishing in last place. The NFL has moved toward the pass, and it isn't going to move back toward the run for a long time. Running backs are still important, but I'm hard-pressed to imagine a running back good enough to justify the second overall pick in the draft.

Of course, if they trade far-enough down, all bets are off.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Justin Blackmon Makes Sense For St. Louis Rams—At 6th Overall

The St. Louis Rams have been connected to Justin Blackmon in 2012 NFL Mock Draft talk since the moment he announced he wouldn’t be declaring for the 2011 NFL Draft, but unfortunately for farsighted mock drafters everywhere, the Rams in 2012 managed to do a little worse than anybody anticipated. At No. 2 overall, it’s been said, the Rams simply can’t take Blackmon when an offensive lineman like Matt Kalil is around. At No. 6, though—well, enough Robert Griffin III trade rumors can make anything happen.

At sixth overall the Rams still need an offensive line that can keep Sam Bradford on his feet, but with Kalil off the board—and their pick traded, presumably, for some depth at those more important positions—Blackmon makes considerably more sense. He might be the flashiest, most superficial pick, but at sixth overall he’s also the most substantive, which is a neat trick.

It all comes down to the demand for RGIII. If the Rams are able to deal with their OT problem elsewhere—and it’s not like they haven’t been trying since before Sam Bradford was even the franchise quarterback—Blackmon could give Bradford someone more dynamic than Danny Amendola and healthier than Danario Alexander to throw to, not that those two qualities are particularly difficult to find.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Morris Claiborne "A Luxury" For St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams' selection in the No. 2 draft is—in the wake of the Gregg Williams allegations—the pleasantest thing left to talk about round the Edward Jones Dome this offseason, and Turf Show Times has done more than its share of speculating on what the Rams will do with it. TST—or RamHock, at least—does have one suggestion: Not Morris Claiborne, who'd be a luxury on a team that's demonstrated, in an unfortunately crucial way, its depth at the position.

In all honestly I'm not sure what the Rams demonstrated last year was classifiable as depth in any way but the most technical, and a player like Claibornee would make an immediate difference in the Rams' ability to defend against the increasingly dominant quarterbacks of the pass-happy NFL. If they have any desire to go defense-first with the pick, Claiborne would make the most sense to me.

But for a year, at least, the defensive growth can come from Robert Quinn and Chris Long. This team needs offense, however it can get it. Whether it's Matt Kalil or an upgrade at a flashier position or a trade for depth all over the place, I'd rather the Rams focus on putting points on the board than taking them off.

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The St. Louis Rams Will Pass on Robert Griffin III. Should They?

The St. Louis Rams will trade the number 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. But is passing on Robert Griffin III the best decision?

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2012 NFL Draft: Rams Exploring Trade, Browns Won't Hesitate To Move Up

The St. Louis Rams have been a focal point of rumors this February, suggesting a number of possible trades may be in the works. With a 2-14 record in the 2011 NFL Season, the Rams secured the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. However, the teams' top two logical targets, WR Justin Blackmon and OT Matt Kalil, may be available a few picks lower in the draft.


Related: 2012 NFL Combine: Matt Kalil Claims To Be 'The Best Tackle In The Draft'

The Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, have two first round picks, No. 4 and No. 22, but are looking for a quarterback. With the Minnesota Vikings picking at No. 3 in the 2012 NFL Draft order, the Browns may miss out on their top quarterback target, Robert Griffin III of the Baylor Bears.

The latest rumors from the combine suggest the Rams might swing a draft-day trade, and the Browns are willing to trade up:

"I wouldn't say we're hesitant to do anything," [Browns head coach Pat Shurmur] said. "We're excited about the fact that we're going to make our team better with this draft. That's the way we approach it. We're not hesitant at all."

The NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 26, and ends on Saturday, April 28. The Rams have from now until the end of their first round countdown to make a trade.

For news and information regarding the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, please stay tuned to this StoryStream. For more on the 2012 NFL Draft, check out SB Nation's dedicated section and Mocking the Draft.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: As Combine Looms, St. Louis Rams Remain Active Traders

The NFL Combine is going to throw a wrench into the whole mock works—Robert Griffin III, among other St. Louis Rams options, will have a lot to say and do to affect the process—but that doesn't keep the 2012 NFL Mock Drafts from flowing right up to Combine week. In Ryan Van Bibber's final SB Nation mock draft pre-Combine, he has the Cleveland Browns trading up for Griffin and throwing Colt McCoy under the bus, as has usually been the case. But how much the Rams get in return—and whether it'll be worth losing out on Matt Kalil—will depend in large part on Griffin's Combine performance.

The Mock Rams, here, take St. Louis' least-favorite imaginable tack with the No. 4 pick, choosing Trent Richardson as Steven Jackson's medium-term replacement and leaving Sam Bradford without triple-A protection and pass-catching for another year. Justin Blackmon goes at sixth, to the Washington Redskins, while the Rams take OT Mike Adams at 22nd overall.

It's not the most exciting move short-term—and if you have the advanced-metric view of running backs in the increasingly pass-heavy NFL, it might not make much sense in the long term, either—but ahead of the NFL Combine, who knows any better? After this week we should have our best understanding yet of the Rams' plans and everybody else's.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Morris Claiborne Falls To St. Louis Rams After Mock-Trade

The St. Louis Rams' defensive backfield was almost relentlessly injured over the course of the 2011 season, so I don't think it should come as a major surprise that the Rams of the Turf Show Times community's 2012 NFL Mock Draft selected Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick in their draft. Claiborne's almost certainly the best player available there—these Mock-Rams, you'll remember, traded their No. 2 pick to the Washington Redskins—but some TST fans are worried that there's no better time than right now to select an offensive lineman and ensure that Sam Bradford isn't permanently flattened in 2012.

Bradford's health is a completely justifiable concern, but the Rams are needy enough on all sides that drafting for one particular need seems like a recipe for disaster. If they want an offensive lineman, they need to hold onto the second overall pick and select Matt Kalil, who has a reasonable shot at being the best player available at that pick no matter what position he plays; if they trade down to sixth, they should be happy to get a guy like Claiborne.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Robert Griffin III Trade Dominates St. Louis Rams Mock

The 2012 NFL Mock Draft currently being conducted over at Turf Show Times—seeing as it's being conducted by a bunch of Rams fans—is perhaps most interesting when it talks about the St. Louis Rams, and when it came time for the Mock Rams to make the second overall pick in the draft... well, they didn't. The Mock Rams and Mock Washington Redskins got together and traded a first rounder and two second rounders—one next year—to deliever Robert Griffin III to a team that doesn't already have a franchise quarterback to deal with.

The Mock Rams haven't picked yet, and the constraints of this particular real-time mock draft—which is capped at two rounds—obviously complicates the question of compensation. But this much seems, to me, to be believable: The Redskins started Rex Grossman for 13 games last year. They're probably in the market for a franchise quarterback. If the Rams don't decide on Matt Kalil instead of trading down, this is a reasonable guess at where they'll end up.

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2012 NFL Draft: Pro Days Schedule Released

The NFL has released the schedule of upcoming pro days, including some very important dates for future top draft picks.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Kalil, The St. Louis Rams, The Sam Bradford Protection Replay

What makes Matt Kalil such a boring NFL Mock Draft choice for the St. Louis Rams in 2012 is that we as a fan base have already seen what could happen if Sam Bradford had a good, young, highly drafted offensive line protecting him from the constant brutalities of 2011—all the way back in 2010.

Back then Jason Smith wasn’t quite a super-bust—so there was your second-overall-pick OT—and Rodger Saffold had arrived immediately, seemingly as fully formed and polished as, oh, Sam Bradford.

And the Rams were—well, the lucked into being Pretty Okay, on account of the defense being as good as it was supposed to be from the moment Steve Spagnuolo arrived. Justin Blackmon or a flashier pick wouldn’t make the Rams any better than Kalil will, but we haven’t seen them go 7-9 with a No. 2 wide receiver yet. Sometimes, mock drafters, that’s all it takes for one player to top another and become a hero of St. Louis blogs the world over.

That and the prospect of another year with Mike Sims-Walker and Danny Amendola competing for the number-one-receiver job.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams' Robert Griffin III Trade Nets Cleveland Browns' Picks

The St. Louis Rams weren't quite terrible enough to get Andrew Luck, but their number-two overall position leaves them with just enough slack to trade their pick for top 2012 NFL Mock Draft target Robert Griffin III. In the latest SB Nation mock draft, the Rams and the Cleveland Browns tie up, with the Browns grabbing Griffin to replace Colt McCoy in exchange for their own number-four pick and the 22nd-overall pick they took in last year's Julio Jones trade. The Rams, in this case, get the best of both worlds: Justin Blackmon, a star receiver for Sam Bradford, at fourth overall, and Jonathan Martin, the Stanford OT, to protect Bradford at 22.

Mock drafter Ryan Van Bibber—in another life the editor of Turf Show Times—notes that the Browns' "organizational arrogance" could keep something ostensibly sensible like this from happening, if Pat Shurmur and company are ready to continue relying on Colt McCoy. But if they want to build the franchise on a big name, they could do much worse than Robert Griffin III—and if they don't trade with the Rams, they will.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams Take Justin Blackmon In Cleveland Browns Tie-Up

2012 NFL Mock Draft fiends have been connecting Justin Blackmon to the St. Louis Rams since—well, since they were 2011 mock draft fiends. With the Rams all the way up at second overall they’ve had to be a little more creative than they used to be, but thanks to the Cleveland Browns’ need for a franchise quarterback—say, Robert Griffin III—and more sensible fourth-overall pick, SB Nation’s latest mock draft has successfully made that happen.

The trade, in this mock scenario, involves the Rams sending their second-overall pick to the Browns for their No. 4 and the No. 22 they got from the Atlanta Falcons in last year’s Julio Jones blockbuster. (Which only seems fitting, considering how popular Julio Jones was as a Rams pick before he zoomed forward after the NFL Combine.) The Browns get their franchise quarterback, and the Rams get two big pieces for their own Sam Bradford—Blackmon, a play-making receiver, and OT Jonathan Martin, who could keep Bradford from getting killed on a regular basis.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Feel Free To Be Terrified By Peyton Manning-Cardinals Rumors

With the Indianapolis Colts having successfully sucked for Andrew Luck in a year without the best quarterback of all time at the tiller, fans of strong teams with poor quarterback situations have quite a sideshow to watch in the 2012 NFL Mock Draft season: Who's going to be Pretty Good for Peyton Manning? So far the Kansas City Chiefs have been the favorites, perhaps because of some Joe Montana muscle memory, but WalterFootball.com, in the middle of trading the St. Louis Rams' pick to the Browns, reminds us that the Arizona Cardinals still make sense.

That sound you hear is Jeff Fisher calling the Miami Dolphins and asking just how serious they were about that whole contract thing. The Rams will have problems enough in the NFC West from the newly reinvigorated San Francisco 49ers in 2012; the 8-8 Cardinals upgrading from John Skelton and Kevin Kolb to Manning, who as recently as 2010 ran up 4700 yards passing and 33 touchdowns would put two 10 win teams in a division that just last year wasn't supposed to have any.

The Rams taking Justin Blackmon at number four and some other players with their extra picks probably won't be quite as much of an upgrade, no matter how well you think Sam Bradford's going to bounce back.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Matt Kalil Takes St. Louis Rams Lead Without Jason Smith

The St. Louis Rams still seem better off trading Robert Griffin III for a barrel of picks with their second overall choice this April, but 2012 NFL Mock Draft mavens take note—if the Rams really do cut Jason Smith, Matt Kalil, an every-few-years kind of talent on the offensive line, will become much more tantalizing to a team still desperate to protect its long-term investment in Sam Bradford.

The fundamental problem with choosing Matt Kalil has never been about his play or his projection—it's always been the fundamental unsexiness of choosing yet another offensive lineman in the early rounds of the draft. Rams fans are tired of linemen—they want wide receivers for Bradford to throw to, or even cornerbacks for opposing quarterbacks to throw to. Anything else.

But at some point the line gets thin enough that sexiness becomes a secondary concern to even the shallowest Rams fan—and with their last second-overall-pick gone, even for all Smith's injuries and passivity, the Rams might be too picked over to even trade their pick for depth. And no, I don't know how that even happens.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins In Robert Griffin Trade Action

The St. Louis Rams have been put in the enviable position of having to decide between drafting a player they'd like—Matt Kalil, Rams Offensive Tackle of the Future of the Future—and trading the number-two-overall pick of the draft to someone who wants Robert Griffin III much more than they do. Here, from WalterFootball.com, is one more 2012 NFL Mock Draft that chooses to make that trade, sending him to the Washington Redskins for the sixth overall pick, a second rounder, another first rounder, and "perhaps a third rounder."

That's a lot of picks, although the Rams—who need to get Sam Bradford on track as soon as possible, and who remain the subjects of a possible relocation if they can't reenergize the fanbase quickly enough in the Jeff Fisher era—might be less than pleased with the somewhat delayed reaction of getting their additional first rounder in 2013.

Perhaps less pleasantly still: The mock choice for the Rams at six is a running back, Trent Richardson, to split carries with and eventually replace Steven Jackson. The Rams definitely need to consider their succession plan at running back, but using their first rounder on a player at the one position they don't need to improve for 2013 isn't quite the recipe for getting the Edward Jones Dome jumping.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams, Matt Kalil Meet Again In New Mock

Mocking the Draft, the SB Nation blog devoted entirely (and predictably) to 2012 NFL Mock Draft work, ran a two-round mock draft Friday afternoon—and the results shouldn't surprise anybody who watched Sam Bradford get beaten into the ground and is familiar with recent mock draft predictions. Matt Kalil, USC's young offensive tackle, goes second overall to the Rams, after Andrew Luck and before the more immediately exciting Justin Blackmon. The interesting thing here: Robert Griffin III, who in other mocks is the key to a trade bounty from the Rams, falls all the way to fourth overall, going straight-up to the Cleveland Browns.

The mock drafter—seton hall and steelers—does throw a sop to pass-hungry Rams fans in the second round, sending them Dwight Jones with the first pick there. It's no Justin Blackmon, but the Rams have an astonishing number of needs to fill, and it's hard to stop at just one in any direction. This would be easier if their last two offensive linemen hadn't fallen flat on their collective face.

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Robert Griffin III Goes Pro, 2012 NFL Mock Drafts Punt On St. Louis Rams

2012 NFL Mock Draft-makers' worst fears were confirmed Tuesday, when it was reported that Robert Griffin III would be going pro in 2012, leaving the St. Louis Rams with the chance to trade a highly touted quarterback for multiple draft picks after all. It would still be nice to have Justin Blackmon for their own highly touted quarterback, Sam Bradford, but the Rams are patchy enough all over the field that a set of picks or players would be hard to resist.

In that respect, Griffin isn't quite Andrew Luck, but a lot of teams would be falling over themselves (and the Rams) to get to him in this increasingly quarterback-heavy league—Turf Show Times, in the above link, describe exactly that sort of dream situation, in which the Cleveland Browns leave the Rams two first rounders (enough to snag Justin Blackmon anyway) and take Griffin to replace the questionable Colt McCoy.

I'll say this for the scenario: It's more fun than the Matt Kalil Offensive Line Experience, though I suppose it's accordingly less likely to keep Sam Bradford from being injured again.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: What Robert Griffin III Means To The St. Louis Rams

Draft picks. Sorry, let me back up: If Robert Griffin III comes out for the draft this year, instead of returning to Baylor, the St. Louis Rams will not select him, which means terrible things for 2012 NFL Mock Draft types and potentially good news for the Rams, who could potentially earn a raft of picks for their spot in the quarterback-drafting line. (It's also good news for Sam Bradford, in case he was wondering whether he had already contracted a terminal case of Jimmy Clausen's Disease.)

That's good news for the Rams, who have a multitude of holes to fill, but the Rams might also find it difficult to trade the chance at a number-one receiver like Justin Blackmon or a guy-who-won't-get-Sam-Bradford-killed like Matt Kalil in exchange for a bunch of less dynamic—if more immediately valuable—players.

If it's any consolation, mock drafters, the Rams are likely as confused as you are—they're unlikely to know more about their own intentions until they decide on a new head coach.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Todd McShay Predicts Rams Will Pick OT Matt Kalil

ESPN's latest Mock Draft from draft guru Todd McShay has the St. Louis Rams picking OT Matt Kalil with the second pick in the 2012 NFL Draft:

The Rams need to better protect the investment they made in 2010 No. 1 overall pick QB Sam Bradford, and current LOT Jason Smith has not lived up to expectations as the No. 2 overall pick in 2009. Given Kalil's size and athleticism, he is ready to step in right now and take over at left tackle.

The Rams currently stand a 2-12, a game behind the Indianapolis Colts (1-13) for the top pick by one game. Meanwhile, the Rams are also one win away from possibly falling to the third pick behind the Minnesota Vikings (2-12).

Kalil, whom SB Nation's Ryan Van Bibber predicts will land with the Rams, is a lineman prospect who could very well be one of "the top prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft."

For more on the Rams, check out Turf Show Times, SB Nation's St. Louis Rams blog. For more details on the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft, be sure to drop by Mocking the Draft.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams May Look To Take OT Matt Kalil

Ryan Van Bibber of SB Nation Pro Football has released his latest iteration of the 2012 NFL Mock Draft, suggesting the St. Louis Rams (2-10) may look to take the best incoming offensive lineman, OT Matt Kalil of the USC Trojans, at No. 2:

2. St. Louis Rams - Matt Kalil, OT, USC

The Rams were already supposed to have their cornerstone offensive tackle, but Jason Smith, the second pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, has been a severe disappointment.

Jason Smith, currently one of the Rams' 14 players on injured reserve, missed much of his rookie season with severe concussion issues and has found himself again on the IR in 2011 with the same injury. With growing knowledge of the severity of concussions, there is an outside chance Smith may have played his last game with the Rams.

Van Bibber says Kalil could easily be the No. 2 overall pick that Smith was never able to become:

Kalil looks like the best tackle prospect to come along since Jake Long. The Rams can finally give Sam Bradford the protection he needs. Rodger Saffold can move to the right side and instantly improve a unit that nearly got Sam Bradford killed this year.

Before the 2011 college football season even began, Mocking the Draft declared Kalil "one of the top prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft" -- not just a top lineman prospect, but a top prospect.

For more on the Rams, check out Turf Show Times, SB Nation's St. Louis Rams blog. For more details on the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft, be sure to drop by Mocking the Draft.

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