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With the 2011 NFL Draft just moments away it's hard to even consider just how long we've been covering the 2011 NFL Mock Draft season, which is almost as long as the actual NFL season. This is the 113th update since we began covering the internet's various mock drafts for the St. Louis Rams, and players as disparate as Michael Floyd and Justin Blackmon, who are no longer in the draft, and Julio Jones, who is no longer out of the Top 10, have been on the tips of our tongues ever since. Here are some of the names connected to the Rams between Michael Floyd in January and Corey Liuget today—
Cameron Jordan, defensive lineman from Cal, was a pre-Combine favorite from SB Nation, which seemed to relish choosing players other than Julio Jones for the Rams until it became apparent that Jones was going to go ahead of the Rams' 14th overall pick. Ryan Kerrigan was another early defensive favorite who gave way to Aldon Smith and then finally Corey Liuget, while Leonard Hankerson showed up in their second round plans following his Senior Bowl performance. Jonathan Baldwin streaked into view and then out of it with a Combine performance as disappointing as Jones's was startling, while Nick Fairley briefly seemed so far gone from his No. 1 past that he might have ended up a Ram.
In the end it's all come down to Corey Liuget, favorite of Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, and everyone else, but there's still time for that to be proven severely wrong.
Todd McShay's final 2011 NFL Mock Draft will not come as a shock to any St. Louis Rams fan who's seen his (or Mel Kiper's) previous work—once again the Rams have been connected to Illinois DT Corey Liuget, he of the "relentless motor" and "disruptive force." Kiper and McShay both seemed to settle on Liuget at the same moment the rest of the mock draft field did, with Aldon Smith moving up and Julio Jones well out of sight. McShay is as high on Jones as any analyst in mock-football; he goes all the way up to the Cleveland Browns in this final mock draft, with Aldon Smith moving even further, to outside linebacker and the Arizona Cardinals.
With the top defensive ends gone and Julio Jones a top-10 pick, Corey Liuget simply makes the most sense for mock draft forecasters of the Rams at this point. Of course, all it takes is one pick out of the Todd McShay-Mel Kiper expected equilibrium for all of that to become much messier and more interesting.
Prodigal 2011 NFL Mock Draft son Julio Jones has returned to the St. Louis Rams’ flock in the final hours of fake-draft season, falling to No. 14 in SB Nation’s final mock. After playing the contrarian before his NFL Combine breakout and often suggesting he’d go elsewhere, our NFL hub’s mock has lately been the last vestige of Jones hope in a world where the Rams are busy writing Corey Liuget’s name into their notebook, to see how it looks.
Jones would be the Rams’ most dynamic first-round pick since—well, since Sam Bradford, however implausible his selection is at this hour; it would engender a kind of offensive optimism not seen in St. Louis since Chris Berman was still giving the Rams goofy nicknames.
One thing is certain for mock drafters of all stripes: In the NFL Draft Thursday, Julio Jones won’t fall further than No. 14. He might not reach the Rams, but he’ll definitely not reach the Dolphins, who will have to console themselves by picking Mark Ingram or Mike Pouncey for the 500th mock draft in a row.
Bill Parcells, not noted for his cheery manner or analytical way of explaining himself, spent much of Wednesday offering up his big board, presenting a distinctly Big Tuna 2011 NFL Mock Draft. For St. Louis Rams fans the big news wasn't that Julio Jones is, shockingly, one of the two best wide receivers in the draft; it was that Parcells thinks Illinois DT Corey Liuget, Rams mock draft hero, is a second round talent.
Parcells's ESPN special was ostensibly about his draft philosophy and methods, but pre-draft coverage tends to atomize and decompress until it becomes list after list of players, and Parcells, as a public figure and list-maker, proved to be no exception.
Turf Show Times's explanation for Liuget—that Parcells is a 3-4 guy, and also a huge fan of controversial DE J.J. Watt—takes the edge off a little, but Bill Parcells is more fun when you can react to him with vitriol and indignation. So how dare he underrate the mock drafters' favorite future St. Louis Ram? How dare he?
Mel Kiper's final 2011 NFL Mock Draft will be old news to St. Louis Rams fan—the draft guru once again selected Illinois DT Corey Liuget as the Rams' 14th overall pick, harbinger of a draft day that, if the mockers are any indication, will prove to be solid but unspectacular, just like the Rams' first-round mock pick.
By my count, this is the millionth mock draft to send Liuget to the Rams in the last two weeks, but I can't exactly complain. I can't cheer, but I can't complain.
Liuget is a hard pick to sell, even with the Mel Kiper seal of approval, because the Rams' defensive line was often very sturdy indeed last season; he would be drafted not because the Rams' line is so terrible, but because, given its age and arguably fluky performance, it's unlikely to play that well again. It's hard to convince fans to tread water on a pick like this, but Liuget's unlikely to disappoint in any way except his failure to be a dynamic, touchdown-happy wide receiver.
For up-to-the-minute 2011 NFL Draft news, follow our draft-day storystream.
This will be my lasting impression of 2011 NFL Draft season: Corey Liuget, St. Louis Rams, over and over, forever. Since Julio Jones startled Rams fans out of complacency with a perfect NFL Combine performance Corey Liuget has been the mock drafter's second-choice of choice, combining filling a real need for the Rams with considerably higher draftability than Jones; when Liuget isn't a Ram, lately, he's gone as far as the mid-20s, to teams like the New Orleans Saints.
SpreeGoogs has the latest Liuget mock draft, and comes to that conclusion for the reasons we've been seeing—for one thing, Julio Jones is gone (to the Washington Redskins, of course, at No. 10), and for another, the Rams need a solid, physical, ready-to-start young defender, and Corey Liuget happens to be one of those.
I wouldn't order your authentic Liuget jersey from the team store just yet, but a homemade shersey seems in order, if this is any indication; I don't know what the St. Louis Mock Rams play, but Corey Liuget has officially been named their team captain.
Wisconsin defensive lineman J.J. Watt became the surprise St. Louis Rams selection in ESPN NFC West guru Mike Sando's 2011 NFL Mock Draft, but to hear Sando tell it he's less likely to be a Ram than the field, at this point. Watt provides depth on the line, which Steve Spagnuolo has never disliked, but he thinks, justly, that the Rams might be more concerned than enthused by the comparisons he's received to Adam Carriker.
Aldon Smith and especially Corey Liuget, official consolation pick of the 2011 NFL Draft season, seem like too solid a set of targets for the post-Julio-Jones Rams for me to feel like J.J. Watt is a likely get—especially since Sando himself seems uncertain about the pick actually playing out on Thursday—but it does seem more and more likely this week that the Rams will end up shoring up their defense somehow with the 14th overall pick the NFL Draft.
The recent rumors about the Rams going with tight end Kyle Rudolph only solidify that impression, for me; they're proof of just how thin the offensive difference-makers are in the Rams' awkward mid-round position.
Steven Jackson is a member of a breed that, if not dying, finds itself consigned increasingly to wildlife preserves and zoos: He's a full-time, always-on-the-field starting running back. And he doesn't want to share. It's hard to blame him; he's stuck with the St. Louis Rams through some of the ugliest seasons in recent NFL history, and he's the franchise's all-time rushing leader as of last season. But as 2011 NFL Mock Draft watchers continue to slip a Mark Ingram or Mikel Leshoure into every third or fourth Rams mock it's hard not to wonder whether Jackson realizes just how much the NFL is changing.
Teams are increasingly aware of the premium being placed on passing under the current NFL rules, but they're just as aware of the absurdly short shelf-lives that every-down backs like Larry Johnson have demonstrated in the last 10 years. That combination means running backs, both individually and as a group, are likely to see less carries in the future.
As Turf Show Times says, Jackson's been anything but disruptive about his preference, and he deserves credit for the way in which he's made it clear. But it's a preference that's becoming more difficult than ever to fulfill.
2011 NFL Draft rumors seem to be especially fond of taking the best player available. Case in point: Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph remains connected to the St. Louis Rams in rumors across the internet, despite the Rams' relative bounty of interesting young tight ends. Sam Bradford will take help from anywhere he can get it, I suppose, and neither Michael Hoomanawanui nor Fendi Onobun could accurately be described as franchise cornerstones.
But this still feels like drafting for need in sheep's clothing. The Rams would be drafting Rudolph in part because they couldn't find a wide receiver that fit their needs, rather than going for the defensive end or tackle that's been most mock drafters' default fallback option for the Rams since the NFL Combine.
I'm as wary as anyone else of drafting specifically and narrowly for need, but If you're going to draft the best player available, draft the best player available; don't try to sneak a pass-catcher in through the tight end door. Especially not when your two young tight ends have such awesome names.
Any seasoned 2011 NFL Mock Draft-watcher knows that a ranking that lists players by ability—that seeks to show us the actual Best Player in the Draft—is doomed to bear no resemblance to the actual mock drafts often put out by the same institutions. If it worked out like that, Patrick Peterson would have locked up the No. 1 overall spot six months ago. But even keeping their predictive value in mind, it's worth noting that Julio Jones, whom the St. Louis Rams would like to see all the way over at No. 14, has sneaked into the top 10 of a lot of these lists.
That's what the Rams are up against: Julio Jones is a skill-player playing a high-profile position who is ranked in the top 10 in terms of overall talent, and he needs to slip to 14. You can understand why the rumors about trading up have gotten slightly louder of late.
Once upon a time, a million 2011 NFL Mock Draft years ago, Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith was a fallback option for a St. Louis Rams team that still had a chance to select Julio Jones with the 14th overall pick. Now draft day is Thursday and Smith might be the latest player to slip past the Rams' mid-round clutches, if recent mock drafts are any indication. SB Nation's latest mock draft and WalterFootball's most recent are just two in a recent trend that's seen Smith and the Houston Texans pick up momentum as a possible connection.
It's a shame, because Aldon Smith was the defensive selection most likely to take the sting off a Julio Jones whiff come draft day. Smith is extremely talented, likely to be fun to watch from day one, and is a familiar name to a not-insignificant portion of Rams fans, who probably watched the Mizzou Tigers with heightened interest during the Rams' visit to football wilderness.
This recent move could just be groupthink, however—it's far too early to discount the idea of selecting Smith entirely, not with a hundred-thousand 2011 NFL Mock Draft years still to go.
Julio Jones is the St. Louis Rams' "preferred" pick in every 2011 NFL Mock Draft you're likely to come across—people have him a lot of places, but nowhere after No. 14—but lately that hasn't meant he actually ends up in the Mock EdwardJones Dome. WalterFootball's latest mock draft has Jones going to the Washington Redskins, the prime Jones-spoilers, at No. 10, and having looked at a lot of these it seems like the consensus is that the Rams would have to trade down to No. 9 to have a shot at their wide receiver of choice.
Even the Rams' original fallback mock-option, Missouri DE Aldon Smith, has moved up near the Top 10 in recent projections. In the above WF mock he even moves above former consensus No. 1 Nick Fairley, who's managed to worry enough people about his character and commitment that he might actually fall to the Rams at this point.
It seems like whenever a player enters the Mock Rams' crosshairs he ends up doing something to improve his draft stock. It's only a matter of time before Old Faithful, Corey Liuget, ends up projected No. 1 overall ahead of Cam Newton.
If you believe two teams who select ahead of the Rams in this week's 2011 NFL Draft, reshuffle your 2011 NFL Mock Drafts accordingly—Da'Quan Bowers's knee is fine, according to the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions. The defensive end, one of the best in a stacked first round full of them, has been dogged by rumors about his health during the offseason that suggest he might have a degenerative condition.
If Bowers is healthy he, along with Robert Quinn and possibly Missouri DE Aldon Smith, is likely to end up out of the Rams' reach come draft day. But that still leaves DT Corey Liuget and five to 10 thousand defensive ends available to the Rams in the first round on April 28, should it come to that, if I've read recent mock drafts correctly.
If Bowers isn't healthy—well, he could have a long way to go before somebody's willing to take a chance. Playing on the line isn't a great way to keep knees healthy even when they're, you know, healthy.
2011 NFL Mock Draft intrigue has reached a fever pitch with the actual 2011 NFL Draft starting this Thursday, and in SB Nation’s new mock draft the St. Louis Rams have gone back to their long-time default option Illinois DT Corey Liuget. With Julio Jones off the board at No. 13 to the New England Patriots in this particular mock, the Rams found themselves looking, as always, for defensive help.
Other options in the post-Jones role include Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith, but Smith found himself off the board before Jones here—he went 11th overall to the Houston Texans.
Mock drafters Brian Galliford and Dan Kadar built some trades into this edition of their 2011 NFL Mock Draft, but the Rams didn’t figure in any of them; they saw the Arizona Cardinals trading down to allow the Dallas Cowboys a shot at Patrick Peterson, and New England trading just ahead of the Rams with the Detroit Lions to cruelly snag Julio Jones, but didn’t put enough stock in the rumors about the Rams trading up to see it happen.
Over at Mocking The Draft there's some interesting news for those on the internet putting together their final 2011 NFL Mock Draft: The Cleveland Browns are targeting two players or a trade for their first-round pick, which is the sixth overall. The Browns have been connected to Julio Jones on a few occasions—Mel Kiper and Todd McShay were fans at one point—but MTD's best guess is that those two players are Robert Quinn and Da'Quan Bowers, two members of the draft's bumper crop of defensive ends. That's good news for those of us still holding on to the vague hope that the St. Louis Rams might end up with Julio Jones, but it leaves a number of teams still interested in the wide receiver.
The two remaining keys will be news on what the Washington Redskins, at No. 10, and the Cincinnati Bengals plan to do with their picks. Will the Bengals, worried about Carson Palmer's retirement threats, select who's left from Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton, or do they go with A.J. Green? Will the Redskins take Jones?
Furthermore, will the Rams trade up to the Browns at number six? Well—probably not.
In the average 2011 NFL Mock Draft Mark Ingram is usually chosen directly after the St. Louis Rams' 14th overall pick, often to the Miami Dolphins, but there's been a school of thought since the end of the season that the Rams might pluck the former Heisman-winner in the first round. At RamsHerd they've done a sort of cost-benefit analysis of the pick, starting with his fit in the scheme and his place among the class's running backs and continuing with Steven Jackson's age and mileage.
But I think the major problem with selecting Ingram with the first round pick, as Turf Show Times has been drumming all year, isn't anything about Ingram or Jackson in particular—it's about the relative fungibility of running backs in an NFL increasingly dominated by the passing game. In an NFL where the best rookie running back of 2010 might have been LeGarrette Blount, undrafted, it might not make sense to take a running back in the first round, even the best one in the draft class.
And, as RamsHerd notes, Steven Jackson is old, but he's not dead.
This is one way for the St. Louis Rams to get running back help in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft: Come draft day, a former player from each team will be on hand to announce his team's second-round pick, and Marshall Faulk is set to fill that role for the Rams. Former Ram Aeneas Williams will fill that role for the Arizona Cardinals, and the not-always-approachable Barry Sanders is set to discharge the Detroit Lions' obligations.
Should the Rams defy convention and select a running back in the second round of this year's draft, I will not rest until Faulk takes him under his wing and is eventually named godfather to the rookie's firstborn, for all the help he was in making him into the Rams' second-best running back ever. (I have limits to my dreams, admittedly.)
The full list of players and teams is available on SB Nation's NFL Draft hub. Names from Sega Genesis Maddens past: Natrone Means.
A recent look at this year's draft class's running backs over at Football Outsiders boils down to Bill Connelly's three-word title, which might as well be aimed directly at the St. Louis Rams given their recent, vague Mark Ingram ties—"Save Your Pick." According to Connely's plus-minus system for evaluating prospect backs, hardly any rate as future stars, and the players who come out best are likely late-rounders Roy Helu, Jr., and Alex Green, not Mark Ingram, who ranks a -1 for a low Speed Score.
At Turf Show Times 3k puts the numbers in a Rams context. 3k, of course, is notoriously no fan of running backs anyway, but it's clear to him that this draft is lacking in conventional every-down types. Which is okay, since the Rams are, as he puts it more interested in "adding a Lilliputian for contribution", a smaller, faster guy who can flit around Steven Jackson rather than replacing him outright.
The good thing about those guys is that they don't require a first or second round pick.
2011 NFL Mock Draft writers and Draft Rumor reporters: Kyle Rudolph is a tight end. The Rams drafted two interesting tight ends last year; Michael Hoomanawanui looked great as Sam Bradford's go-to option in the role, but he couldn't stay healthy, and Fendi Onobun is nowhere near ready but possesses some serious physical talent. Despite all this, people think Kyle Rudolph and the Rams might end up together come NFL Draft day.
Rudolph is an upgrade on Hoomanawanui, Daniel Fells, and Onobun, but the Rams don't need reliable possession types—they need everything else.
Turf Show Times notes that they would also have to trade down for this pick to make sense. Given everything it requires to rationalize this, I'm surprised we're even talking about it at all. But stranger things have happened, and come draft day it could be that the Rams pick the one pass-catcher Sam Bradford wasn't really asking for.
"Hey, buddy!" Steve Spagnuolo might say. "I got you a guy who'll be perfect for short, grind-it-out passes!"
And Sam Bradford will hope he kept the receipt.
With Julio Jones off the board in most recent 2011 NFL Mock Draft action it's become difficult to envision a scenario in which the catch-poor St. Louis Rams can choose a wide receiver in the first round on April 28. That means Mocking The Draft's list of wide receiver sleepers might be of interest at this hour. Tops on their list: Cecil Shorts III, astoundingly named receiver of Mount Union. Shorts has "amazing speed", "soft hands", "outstanding playmaking skills", and is "so talented." All that's good.
Greg Little of UNC has some serious physical talent but apparently combines them with some character concerns. I think Steve Spagnuolo is saving his Four Pillars Exemption Card for the team's first round pick, but I could be wrong. MTD finishes things off with a look at Florida Atlantic tight end Rob Housler; given the Rams' current tight end crop, which includes an exciting player with injury concerns, Michael Hoomanawanui, and an exciting player who's totally raw, Fendi Onobun, I can't imagine them moving in that direction.
Meanwhile, when I go to sleep, all I see if Julio Jones...
2011 NFL Mock Draft watchers who also are big fans of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports-pagers take note: their football-centric watercooler configuration likes Julio Jones as Sam Bradford's savior and the Rams' No. 1 pick, if only he's around at 14th overall. Things they like: His competitiveness; his size; his blocking; his speed; his mere presence; the way he looks at you, no, really looks at you when you talk, like, he knows, and he's listening; the way their first name sounds next to his last name.
I can't blame them for their gushing, since I feel the same way. It's an awkward position to be in, as fans: We know exactly who the Rams should pick in the 2011 NFL Real Draft, but we know that since January it's been increasingly difficult to see a scenario in which he falls all the way to the Rams. Julio Jones is a potential No. 1 receiver. Unfortunately, teams who did worse than the Rams are into that sort of thing.
Our latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft goes two rounds deep, and the Fake St. Louis Rams end up going running back with the 47th pick of the draft, selecting Mikel Leshoure out of Illinois to back up Steven Jackson. Back up, of course, isn't the right word—any running back the Rams pick in the 2011 NFL Draft will not be backing Steven Jackson up so much as saving the Pro Bowl running back from himself. Is there any running back around good enough to keep Steven Jackson from finishing in the top five in rushing attempts again?
Leshoure is pretty good, but I'm not sure he's that good.
If the Rams go running back in 2011 I think I'd rather them look at a change-of-pace guy like Taiwan Jones. I can't see Steve Spagnuolo keeping Jackson off the field for a similar but less-talented guy like Leshoure, at least not right away, but I can see him spotting Jackson with a totally different player when the situation called for it.
Like, when his legs were about to fall off.
Julio Jones remains the St. Louis Rams' pick of choice in SB Nation's weekly 2011 NFL Mock Draft, with another set of strange picks leading to the second-best wide receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft going to the Rams all the way at 14. Here's how the possible receiver picks go: The Cincinnati Bengals pick Blaine Gabbert, who slips to No. 4; the Cleveland Browns take A.J. Green, as is their wont, at No. 6; the Washington Redskins pick Jake Locker in a major surprise at No. 10; and the Rams get Julio Jones, somehow.
Other draft surprises: Aldon Smith falls all the way to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 20, and Corey Liuget, Rams pick-by-default since March, goes to the Indianapolis Colts at 22, spurned by both the Rams and erstwhile suitors the New York Giants.
A lot would need to happen for this draft to actually happen, but as 2011 NFL Mock Drafts go it isn't totally implausible. For more optimism, read my book, Not Totally implausible: The Julio Jones Story.
Peter King's 2011 NFL Mock Draft hit my inbox on Tuesday—you can find an online version at this address—and it's a return to Corey Liuget normalcy after a sea of Julio Jones trade rumors. He's got Jones going sixth to the Cleveland Browns—just one pick after A.J. Green becomes a member of the quarterback-free Arizona Cardinals—and Cam Newton going No. 1 overall. The most surprising thing about this draft as it relates to the Rams is where Missouri DE and on-again off-again Rams pick Aldon Smith falls—all the way to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 20.
Peter King's anointment of Liuget just makes it clearer than ever that he's the official default pick for the St. Louis Rams and their Mock Draft Equivalents. Nobody ever got fired picking Corey Liuget, or buying IBM; it doesn't take a wild leap of faith or a major trade like Julio Jones does, there are no cries of homerism or rawness like you might get with Aldon Smith, there's no gagging noises from Turf Show Times like you might get if you pick Mark Ingram... it's the perfect, boring pick.
It's lost amid the 2011 NFL Mock Draft headlines about Julio Jones's upwardly mobile draft stock, but recently Rams experts have been suggesting that the Rams face a major problem at outside linebacker, one they'd like, ideally, to fix with the draft. Jim Thomas, regularly of the Post-Dispatch, suggests for the Sporting News that there might be a problem—namely that there aren't really any 4-3-ready OLBs available.
As second or third round picks he thinks the Rams might look at UNC's Bruce Carter and Mason Foster of Washington, but he doesn't see any OLBs around that might cut into the Rams' current first-round mock plans, which have lately involved a lot of Corey Liuget, a little of Aldon Smith, and a lot of sad-eyed pining over one Julio Jones, who once ran a 4.3 mile while his leg was eaten by flesh-eating bacteria.
WalterFootball's latest Mock Draft has the Rams going offense in the later rounds: wide receiver (Torrey Smith), offensive guard (Clint Boling), and running back (Jordan Todman), before picking DE Cliff Matthews in the fifth round. But mock drafts become a deeply inexact art/science after that first round.
The most popular 2011 NFL Mock Draft scenario to date in St. Louis is the one that has the Rams trading up to the Dallas Cowboys' No. 9 spot to give them a better chance at drafting wide receiver Julio Jones with their first round pick, but another trade rumor has come out of WalterFootball, this one suggesting the Rams could trade down and take an extra pick later in the draft. In this particular scenario, the Rams would trade down to 23 with the Philadelphia Eagles, where they still might be able to get Mock Draft hero Corey Liuget, as Turf Show Times notes.
It's impossible to tell whether any of this might actually happen, but with the NFL lockout obscuring the upcoming release of the 2011 NFL schedule it's worth exhausting every mock draft angle you can find. Because for the rest of the summer, football news might be harder than usual to come by.
Maybe we wouldn't be so hung up on Julio Jones if the Rams could actually talk to wide receivers in free agency.
DraftCountdown has another 2011 NFL Mock Draft on offer, and St. Louis Rams fans will be marginally excited to learn that they present another scenario in which the Rams might end up with wide receiver and white whale Julio Jones. It involves A.J. Green falling out of the single digits, Cam Newton slipping to No. 4, and the Cleveland Browns deciding they want one of the numerous defensive ends available in the 2011 NFL Draft, which begins April 28.
The draft kicks off with Blaine Gabbert getting the Jimmy Clausen Heartbreaker role as the Carolina Panthers' first overall pick. Von Miller's upward ascent keeps the Buffalo Bills from choosing a quarterback at No. 3, which means that the Cincinnati Bengals, who need to replace dearly not-yet-departed quarterback Carson Palmer, can select Cam Newton and cause their fanbase to spontaneously combust.
Perhaps the most important pick is the Cleveland Browns selecting Da'Quan Bowers at No. 6. The Browns are a major player for A.J. Green and have picked Jones in some recent mock drafts; if they go defense-first, Green might fall all the way to the primary Jones spoilers, the Washington Redskins at No. 10. From there the St. Louis Rams find the sailing relatively smooth, but that's a lot of NFL Mock Draft machinations it would take to get to that part of the ocean...
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch got in on Julio Jones watch Sunday, with Jim Thomas's comprehensive draft needs rundown offering some insight in addition to the Jones Pessimism that 2011 NFL Mock Draft watchers have come to expect of late. Thomas agrees that it's unlikely the Rams find Jones at No. 14 at this point, deep in the throes of his post-NFL-Combine stardom. But he has something new—a "longtime NFL coach" apparently described Jones as a young Terrell Owens, and although Thomas is quick to append "in terms of talent" I wonder whether the coach was more verbose. Fill in your own answer from the options below:
"He's like a young Terrell Owens, only—
1. Not crazy.
2. Less likely to be called a "fancy little football person" by a police spokesperson.
3. Not currently in possession of a Bill Parcells voodoo doll.
4. Not under the advisement of a talent agent."
Considering Owens has picked up nearly 16,000 receiving yards in 15 seasons in the NFL it's hard not to like that kind of comparison. And while he's been a PR nightmare at his worst, there are worse things in the NFL—far worse—than funny touchdown celebrations.
One of the players around whom the mock-St. Louis Rams have been strangely quiet in 2011 NFL Mock Draft action to date is Mark Ingram, who seems to spend most of his time between 12 and 16—which is exactly where the Rams, at No. 14, happen to be. This serves me just fine—Turf Show Times's own 3k has done a fine job this offseason of showing the way the position's impact is so often overstated. But with Josh McDaniels at the helm of a new offense just two years after selecting Knowshon Moreno 12th overall, TST is now asking the running back question from a perspective of likelihood, rather than need.
From that perspective a first-rounder still seems unlikely to me, but a second or third round type—be it a future starter like Mikel Leshoure or Ryan Williams or a guy who looks more like an immediate change-of-pace impact player, like Taiwan Jones, seems like a distinct possibility, especially if the Rams aren't interested in the second-tier wide receivers like Jonathan Baldwin and Leonard Hankerson.
The Minnesota Vikings, who pick No. 12 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, are the latest team to join the Julio Jones hunt, suggesting on PFT Live that they'd look at Jones or top receiver prospect A.J. Green if either managed to fall that far on April 28. The St. Louis Rams and their fans welcome yet another confounder sitting between their No. 14 pick and the number-one receiver of Sam Bradford's dreams. Of course, if they trade up into the single digits to pursue Jones, the Vikings are irrelevant.
Anything could happen in the next two weeks, but it's become increasingly difficult to imagine a scenario in which the Rams come by Julio Jones honestly. Team after team has shown interest in the aftermath of his NFL Combine extravaganza, and none of them has yet backed off. The Rams could really use a wide receiver with some upside and two functioning knees, but they might have to settle for plugging a defensive hole if they stick to their original first round pick.
Taiwan Jones pushed himself up the small-school list and into some additional 2011 NFL Mock Draft coverage Thursday, running a 4.2-4.3 40-yard dash and hitting 39.5 inches on his vertical leap. Jones, thought of during his college career as a lightning-fast change-of-pace back, has apparently gained 20 pounds on his listed weight, and now tips the scales at six-feet even, 198 pounds. Trung Canidate might bias St. Louis Rams fans against running backs of this genre, but as a change-of-pace back for Steven Jackson who wouldn't cost the Rams their first-round pick he's an interesting option in the middle of the draft.
Where in the middle, exactly? WalterFootball.com has him going in the fifth round in Friday's Mock Draft but concedes that they'll have to push him way up after the show he put on at pro day. Injuries and durability will always be a concern for Jones, but early indications are he could go anytime starting late in the second round.
He became a more exciting player on Thursday... but he also became less of a bargain. Funny how that works.
We already know that the Rams need to add some talent around Sam Bradford in the form of a true No. 1 wide receiver. Julio Jones is probably the name that gets thrown about most often for the Rams to draft in the first round, but it is extremely unlikely that he will still be on the board for the Rams to draft with their first round pick. But again, we already knew that.
There might be some good news on that front now, however. According to Todd McShay via Rotoworld, there is a chance that the Rams could move up in the Draft to get their man.
ESPN's Todd McShay said on SportsCenter Friday that he's heard rumblings around the league that the Rams are angling to trade up for the No. 9 overall pick in the draft.
They also report that the reason they would need to jump all the way up to No. 9 is because people believe that the Redskins, who pick at tenth overall, are expected to take Julio Jones if he is still on the board. Of course moving up to No. 9 does not guarantee that Jones will still be on the board, so this might be the kind of move that gets made while the Cowboys are on the clock.
Mel Kiper's latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft is fraught with unpredictability—he says it's "one of the more unpredictable top 10's [he] can ever remember"—but he still has Cam Newton going number one overall, suggesting rightly that if the Carolina Panthers want to make a transformational pick, a team-changing move, he's the one. Between that move and Blaine Gabbert falling to fifth overall, with the Arizona Cardinals, it seems like this might be a good recipe to get Julio Jones all the way to the St. Louis Rams. Unfortunately, it's apparently an even better way to get Julio Jones to the Cleveland Browns, at No. 6.
That's about as high as you'll see Jones go, and it's a scary move from the Mock Draft Kingpin this close to draft day. But it's always tough to predict the NFL Draft, even when your hair is both self-aware and clairvoyant. The Rams are unlikely to get Julio Jones, but I think they're at least as likely to end up with him as the Browns. When in doubt, it seems like a good idea to pick the field...
Todd McShay did something interesting with his latest Mock Draft at ESPN. He brought in two actual factual NFL scouts to help him put together his first round picks. I'm not sure how accurate it will prove to be, but it certainly feels a little more authentic than just some guy dishing out his opinions. But the pick they give the Rams is a little curious.
Despite being rated as the 16th best prospect in the Draft, McShay gives the Rams Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph at No. 14 overall. In most of the Mocks you'll find, Rudolph goes somewhere in the late first round or early second round area. This is much higher than I have seen him go in any Mock Draft. The scout who made the pick explains.
I gave TE Kyle Rudolph to the Rams at No. 14, maybe a bit high for someone who missed most of the season with a hamstring, but I just believe in the guy. Rudolph has a chance to be an impact player and longtime starter in the league, and I think he could do for St. Louis what Rob Gronkowski did for New England as a rookie.
If the Rams feel like he can make that big of an impact, than No. 14 is not too early to take him. It doesn't matter where you take a guy if you feel he is a great fit and a good player for your system. Rams fans might not be too excited about the pick on Draft day, but Rudolph could develop into a very good player for them.
For St. Louis Rams handicappers in the 2011 NFL Mock Draft game Aldon Smith Fever seemed to break just after the full effects of Julio Jones's 2011 NFL Combine explosion were made visible; after a brief run at the top of Rams mock-boards he's fallen behind Corey Liuget and Zombie Julio Jones in recent weeks. But two recent SB Nation mock drafts have given us a mild Aldon Smith resurgence, which should please the Missouri Tigers/St. Louis Rams combo-fan contingent.
Earlier this week Smith went to the Rams in Mocking the Draft's most recent crystal-gazing. (Julio Jones went at 12 to the Minnesota Vikings, while Corey Liuget stuck around all the way to the New Orleans Saints at 24.) MTDer Jon Dove considers Smith a potentially dominant pass rusher, but he's not quite sure where on the field he'll do it.
Meanwhile, at Turf Show Times, the community mock draft finally got to the 14th overall pick, and crashoverride1 chose Smith to general acclaim. Jones went especially early in this mock draft—sixth overall, to the Cleveland Browns—so you can't accuse them of pulling any punches for the Mock-Rams.
Nick Fairley's fall from 2011 NFL Mock Draft grace is well established by now—after beginning the year as a consensus No. 1-caliber pick following Andrew Luck's departure, he's fallen all over the place in recent mock drafts, falling to No. 8 in SB Nation's current mock draft, which isn't his worst showing. Turf Show Times has a great look at his current standing, which has him going as far as 19th in the 2011 NFL Draft's first round following continuous questions about his intangibles—his desire to play football, his character. He's fallen so far that the St. Louis Rams have to legitimately consider him on their draft board at this point.
The Rams are in the market for a Nick Fairley type, having been deluged by Corey Liuget picks of late, and TST is convinced that the Rams should at least think about taking a chance on a guy who is definitely not a conventional Four Pillars pick. Fairley could have deep character issues, but if a team believes in character enough they ought to think about whether they're able to build it, or just draft for it.
The NFL Draft is just about a week or so away, and the Mocks continue to pour in from all over the Internet. The latest from our Draft site Mocking the Draft has the Rams taking a local kid; Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith. Here is their rationale.
Unfortunately both A.J. Green and Julio Jones are off the board so St. Louis needs to go in a different direction. Aldon Smith represents someone with the potential to develop into a dominate pass rusher. However, there is still a lot of questions surrounding what position is the best fit.
No matter what position Smith ends up playing in the NFL, he is a ball of potential. He has all the physical tools needed to be a dominant pass rusher, and could evolve into one of the better players from this class. If the actual draft plays out this way and both of the elite wide receivers are off the board, I think the Rams would do well to take someone with such high potential on the defensive side of the ball.
The 2011 NFL Mock Draft momentum has shifted from Julio Jones to Corey Liuget in most St. Louis Rams-related mocks, but SB Nation's latest Mock Draft is a pre-NFL-Combine throwback, letting Jones fall all the way to the Rams at 14. Here's how it happens: A.J. Green falls to six, with the WR-hungry Cincinnati Bengals drafting Blaine Gabbert at four; the Washington Redskins take enigmatic DE Cameron Jordan at 10; and so falls Julio Jones, Sam Bradford's new favorite person.
Is it plausible? Turf Show Times says plausible, if not likely. For them it comes down to an early run on the draft's offensive tackles—if the Buffalo Bills pass on Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert in favor of Von Miller the Bengals can take a quarterback, and then A.J. Green can go to the Cleveland Browns, the first clear wide receiver-hungry team. Then it's a matter of the Washington Redskins drafting someone other than Julio Jones—which, for me, is where things become slightly less clear.
I wouldn't stop work on that homemade Corey Liuget jersey, but there are still other options on the NFL Mock Draft table—even Julio Jones.
The 2011 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching and the teams are starting to host the prospects they may be interested in at their facilities so that they can have a better opportunity to get to know them. According to Jim Thomas at STLToday.com, the Rams will host some of the biggest names who could be available when they are drafting at their facility this week.
Heading the list of scheduled visitors is Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones, but several other potential Rams selections at No. 14 overall are scheduled to visit Rams Park today and Wednesday. Among them are Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith, Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget, North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn and California defensive end Cameron Jordan.
The Rams will also reportedly host four running backs, which is interesting considering how good Stephen Jackson is. Maybe this is the time when they finally reduce his carries a little bit by finding him a suitable backup.
Yet another 2011 NFL Mock Draft has come and gone with none other than Corey Liuget on the board for the St. Louis Rams at No. 14 overall—this time it's WalterFootball.com, which selects Liuget for the Rams for the second week in a row. At the moment I think we're in the calm before the 2011 NFL Draft storm—until news leaks around the Carolina Panthers' first overall choice we've hit a kind of temporary stasis, and Corey Liuget is the guy who was standing nearest the Rams' chair when the music stopped playing.
Turf Show Times suggests in their latest draft coverage that this might be because of Liuget's status as a safe pick. The Rams definitely could use a young DT, and Steve Spagnuolo loves his defensive linemen; in the meantime, Julio Jones is out of reach in his post-NFL-Combine-canonization status, and Missouri alum Aldon Smith, one of a number of fine defensive ends in this first round, is a little raw, though he would look nice across from Chris Long.
With a bunch of kind-of-likely picks settling in for the last three weeks of draft speculation, Corey Liuget has become the kind-of-likeliest. Don't put too much stock in it, but that's definitely where the St. Louis Rams Mock Draft Prognosticators have settled.
As we've been documenting tirelessly on this 2011 NFL Mock Draft, Corey Liuget has, since late March, recently become the St. Louis Rams' pick-by-default in mock drafts. He'd always been lurking in the background, but in the period of a week-and-a-half he went to St. Louis in the Mocking The Draft mock and, of course, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay's ESPN-sanctioned mock drafts, as well as WalterFootball's most recent draft. It's happened all at once, and though there are still a few holdouts—SB Nation's last was a Julio Jones throwback—but it looks like the Fake Rams love the Illinois DT.
Of course, no player gets tied to one team exclusively at this point unless he's going No. 1 overall. So if you're interested in other suitors for Liuget, I recommend the New York Giants, picking at 19, who've gone the Liuget route in two separate bits of mock draft coverage in the last two weeks.
Giants fans don't seem especially enamored of him, so I can't imagine this being their equivalent of the Julio Jones situation. But there's only room in this de facto Liuget-employer business for one team...
Turf Show Times's own Community 2011 NFL Mock Draft has started, and with their first pick these St. Louis Rams fans had the Carolina Panthers go with... Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert is a popular pick recently, as it becomes more and more clear that people expect the Panthers to end the Jimmy Clausen era early and choose a quarterback; he's not quite as high-profile a pick as Cam Newton, but he's also less likely to become a schadenfreude magnet, which is important for a team that just drafted Jimmy Clausen.
Since then they've taken Patrick Petersen and Von Miller off the board. It'll be interesting to see what happens in the run-up to the Rams pick, since these guys have been following the Mock Draft tea-leaves so closely all year. Will Julio Jones go to the Washington Redskins? Will Corey Liuget go to the Rams for the 15th mock draft in a row?
In the meantime, TST seems to be Blaine Gabbert fans in aggregate—he's gotten 43% of the popular vote in the aftermath of the pick, ahead of the 35% of votes for "They shouldn't select a QB with the first pick."
Good news, everyone! Yet another 2011 NFL Mock Draft has leapt upon the Corey Liuget-St. Louis Rams bandwagon. This time it's WalterFootball, who's been all over the place with the Rams since beginning their Mock Drafting for this year. They think the Rams would take Julio Jones if he fell to 14, which should please our own Aaron Hooks, but they've been stuck on Jones to the Washington Redskins for some time now. Meanwhile Aldon Smith, another popular pick in the Rams' pre-2011 NFL Draft shenanigans, goes here to the Minnesota Vikings at 12, leaving Ryan Kerrigan—to the Jacksonville Jaguars at 16—as the only major DE left on the board.
With the 2011 NFL Draft less than a month away it's clear that the St. Louis Rams consensus has solidified around Corey Liuget. It's unclear whether this will tell us anything about the actual result of the draft; the 2011 NFL Mock Draft season has been exciting, but it's always difficult to tell whether it will be fruitful. Remember: Just a few months ago, the consensus pick for the Rams was... Michael Floyd, wide receiver lately of Notre Dame. Liugetimacy: Yet to be determined.
The St. Louis Rams need a wide receiver. The 2011 NFL draft is coming in mere weeks. So they are taking Julio Jones and being done with it, right?
Our 2011 NFL Mock Draft concerns have begun to coalesce around a few players in particular as we get closer to April 28—for the St. Louis Rams, with Julio Jones looming as a specter just outside the picture, it's become a question of defensive tackle, namely Corey Liuget of Illinois, or defensive end, namely Aldon Smith of Missouri. The local angle, they can only hope, will take some of the hurt away from their inability to get Sam Bradford his man with the 14th pick in then draft. (If Julio Jones doesn't drop they can only blame Michael Floyd and Justin Blackmon for staying in school.)
This question played itself out recently when Turf Show Times participated in SB Nation's network-wide NFL mock draft and selected Corey Liuget with their 14th overall mock-pick. It's become a popular pick elsewhere—Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are both on board, as you can see in our 2011 NFL Mock Draft storystream—but both Mocking the Draft and SB Nation proper were surprised the fake Rams went with Liuget instead of Smith, who was still on the board.
It's difficult to see where the Rams might go at this point, but it's only going to get more heated over the next two weeks.
Get used to it, St. Louis Rams fans: With Mel Kiper and Todd McShay each choosing him for St. Louis in recent 2011 NFL Mock Draft action, we're doomed to hear about Illinois DT Corey Liuget for the rest of mock draft season. Most recently, TST highlights a recent comparison Liuget got to the third pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Gerald McCoy. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might not be especially fond of any comparison that suggests their third-overall future star could be had at 14, and it turns out that most scouts and analysts are equally skeptical.
If Liuget's a top-five talent, after all, what does that make Nick Fairley?
The other option for interpretation is that this unnamed scout is suggesting that Corey Liuget is extremely likely to tear his biceps in December and end up on injured reserve. If you think about it, football scout would be a great job for a clairvoyant looking to maintain a low-key lifestyle, at least until he accidentally predicts out loud that a star prospect is five years from being busted for dog-fighting.
Both ESPN 2011 NFL Mock Draft experts have officially jumped on the Corey Liuget-to-the-St.-Louis-Rams bandwagon, with Todd McShay joining Mel Kiper in sending the Illinois defensive tackle to the Rams with the 14th mock pick in the mock draft. McShay even shares Kiper's concern for the Rams at outside linebacker, but is entranced by Liuget's motor, which, environmentalism be damned, never stops running.
Kiper and McShay both take wide receivers for the Rams in their mock second rounds, but they diverge here, a little; Kiper likes Senior Bowl star Leonard Hankerson, while McShay goes with Kentucky's Randall Cobb. Turf Show Times seems displeased by the pick—in the comments it seems like the consensus is that Cobb is a major reach, plucked out of the ether because McShay needed to make it clear that he knew the Rams needed a wide receiver.
It'll be interesting, once I've gotten over my Julio Jones-related angst, to see whether the Rams do end up skipping out on the 2011 NFL Draft's mass of interesting defensive ends in favor of Liuget, after all.
2011 NFL Mock Draft fixture and part-time Brylcreem model Mel Kiper remains a fan of Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget in his latest mock, sending him to the St. Louis Rams at No. 14 for a second straight draft. The Rams have long been expected to work on their strange defensive line if Julio Jones fails to materialize, with the question in that case coming down to whether the Rams should draft a bookend for Chris Long, like Aldon Smith, or a future replacement for Fred Robbins up the middle, like Liuget. Kiper expects, once more, that the Rams will take Liuget, who fills an "immediate need" and "locates the ball well against both the pass and the rush."
Liuget isn't the most dramatic pick the Rams could make, and Smith, late of the Missouri Tigers, remains the most compelling local-guy pick, but he really does fill a need, and Steve Spagnuolo really has never met a defensive upgrade he didn't like.
As for Julio Jones—well, you might want to sit down. He goes all the way at No. 6, just behind A.J. Green. It looks like the Rams offense just didn't suck quite enough to suck less next year.
Well, this is one way out of 2011 NFL Mock Draft hypnosis, though I don't know if the cure is any better than the disease—Turf Show Times is running a list of the Top 10 Draft Busts in St. Louis Rams history. Number ten on the list, Joe Klopfenstein, is near and dear to my heart—the year he was picked I decided to go cheap and homerish on my tight ends in fantasy football, so Klop ended up my week-one starter at the position.
Things didn't go well.
The Rams may not end up with Julio Jones or Robert Quinn when it finally comes time for them to use that 14th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. And that's fine with me, I guess. I just want to be sure that they won't pick Joe Klopfenstein or Jimmy Kennedy. As TST counts down to the worst draft bust in St. Louis Rams history I can only hope that the Rams braintrust is doing the same painful exercise—trying to figure out what it is that separates the draft stars from the future workout failures.
April is here, so the 2011 NFL Draft can't be too far away. Today, we're going to look at Walter Football, who is mocking the whole darn thing. For the purpose of this post, we're just going to look at the first two rounds, because looking anything past that is kind of a fool's errand (well, relatively speaking).
In the first round, they have the Rams taking Illinois DT Corey Liuget. Here is their rationale.
St. Louis has to find an upgrade next to Fred Robbins on the defensive front. At 285 pounds, Gary Gibson is just too overmatched.
They don't really talk a lot about how Liuget is a great fit for the Rams, or that they really want him or anything like that. It's almost like this is a "well, since there's nobody else on the board" kind of thing; which I don't think would inspire too many fans. Liuget is a nice player, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Rams went in a different direction. In the second round, they have the Rams taking Miami's Leonard Hankerson.
St. Louis' No. 1 goal this offseason is to find a play-maker for Sam Bradford. The Rams could not get anything downfield in the ugly season finale at Seattle because of their abysmal receiving corps. Drafting someone like Leonard Hankerson would fix that.
Hankerson would be a great pick in the second round if the Rams are unable to get one of the top-two receivers in the first round. He is a pretty big target and has great hands. He could be the exact type of reliable target that the Rams need to put next to Sam Bradford.
O, contrarian SB Nation 2011 NFL Mock Draft, how I'm contractually obligated not to resist your Julio Jones-bating ways. Back before the 2011 NFL Combine, when boys were boys, men were boys, and Julio Jones was just a boy who might actually fall 14 spots to the St. Louis Rams in the first round of the draft, the SB Nation mock always had the receiver-starved Rams pick a defensive stud instead. Now that everybody thinks Jones will go to the Washington Redskins at 10 they've swung to the other side—Julio Jones falls all the way to the Rams at 14 after the Redskins go contrarian-defensive and select Cameron Jordan.
The Rams could definitely use Julio Jones, who would immediately become one of Sam Bradford's prime targets, but it's hard to see a scenario, post-Combine, in which it happens, unless they trade up. In this case, it took a mock draft in which A.J. Green falls to the Browns at six, and then the Redskins pass at 10.
Definitely a possibility, but it's one I'd probably be healthier not considering. SB Nation's goal in its 2011 NFL Mock Draft coverage is to keep me from being mentally healthy.
The Rams have a few needs that will have to be addressed in the coming Draft and wide receiver is one of the biggest. SB Nation just came out with the latest edition of their 2011 NFL Mock Draft, and they fill that need with Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones at No. 14; likely a welcome sight for Rams fans. Here is their rationale.
For months, No. 14 overall has been the point everyone deems Julio Jones won't slide past. That still holds true today, even though the Rams' need at receiver may be slightly overhyped. Sam Bradford looks like a future star, but he'll need more help to get there.
The Rams need to add some talent around Sam Bradford, and Julio Jones is just about a dream come true. The only way I can see the Rams not taking Jones here is if some other team takes him before they have the chance too. He is an excellent receiving prospect, and would be a good fit with Bradford. But he had a big combine, and his stock may be a little bit too high for the Rams. But if he is on the board, it's just about a no-brainer.
2011 NFL Mock Draft bracketologists would do well to read TST's latest on the "gamesmanship" associated with pre-draft visits, which, in the 2010 NFL Draft season, didn't produce a single future St. Louis Ram, when it all came down to it. The Rams, as VanRam notes, went through the motions with a number of possible top picks, including Ndamukong Suh and Jimmy Clausen, and obviously ended up taking Sam Bradford anyway.
All that visiting is difficult to differentiate into actual interest, which limits the value of these pre-draft visits as actual tea-leaves, but TST concedes that it might be possible to divine a team's idea of its own needs when, for instance, two tight ends came down to Rams Park from among the 30 private visits teams are allowed. The Rams ended up drafting two tight ends that year—Michael Hoomanawanui and Fendi Onobun—just not the ones they had over for a visit.
My latest plan, with this bit of knowledge in mind: The Rams invite every plausible Top 20 player in for a private workout—except Julio Jones. This is like trying to force a cat to land on its back.
Mel Kiper, hair-helmeted Czar of the 2011 NFL Mock Draft, has undertaken the task of choosing backup plans for every team in the draft, and Turf Show Times had a look last night at Kiper's St. Louis Rams selections. Question number one: Is Corey Liuget a backup plan if, as Kiper (and VanRam of TST) has done lately, you've also chosen him as the Rams' initial plan? Or is he saying backup plan in relation to the Rams' all-too-unlikely plan A, which fans have for some time assumed to be drafting Julio Jones?
VanRam finds especially strange the idea that the Rams are also interested in an outside linebacker, given the Rams' heretofore-understood fascination with defensive ends like Aldon Smith.
The hair knows things we don't—this is my motto in most things. If Mel Kiper thinks the Rams need an outside linebacker, and he's not performing some kind of unfortunate Jedi mind trick on me, maybe I've been wrong all along? Man, that really wasn't the wide receiver I was looking for...
Your 2011 NFL Mock Draft top 10 depends in large part on how you feel about Cam Newton. And how you feel about Cam Newton is, unless you have the only moderate opinion about him in the country, on display in this WalterFootball draft mailbag. One writer suggests that Blaine Gabbert was playing pedestrian football while Cam Newton made the SEC "look like Pop Warner football" in the midst of a controversy that, for some people, apparently can be turned into a positive.
Another suggests that Carolina's "fascist" owner would never draft "$cam Newton", not right after he hoodwinked the Nationally Corrupt Athletic Association into allowing his cheating and defrauding to go on while they "scapegoated his old man." But the "2011 Akili Smith", "a tailback taking snaps", is another man's top-three pick, and the franchise quarterback the Buffalo Bills need.
Few players have engendered quite so much controversy as Cam Newton, and with the 2011 NFL Draft less than a month away I see no reason for that to abate any time soon, no matter where he's taken. So don't take that Google Alert off just yet, Jimmy Clausen.
The 14th pick of the Mocking the Draft 2011 NFL Mock Draft has come and gone, and the St. Louis Rams bloggers at Turf Show Times, foiled yesterday when Julio Jones went at No. 11, selected Corey Liuget, defensive tackle from Illinois. Their line of reasoning is one they've been talking up all season—Liuget could fill a hole at the three-technique specialty, not to mention shoring up a unit that is currently reliant on 34-year-old Fred Robbins continuing to play world-class football.
The Mocking the Draft guys think Aldon Smith—available in their mock draft, and likely still available at 14 in the real 2011 NFL Draft, on April 28—would be a better value at the position, but Liuget would absolutely fill a need, both in 2011 and in the future. He's not as exciting as a Julio Jones, to be sure, but if the Rams can't improve their offense in the draft they can at least make sure their already-solid defense stays that way indefinitely.
Robert Quinn, sometimes-Rams-pick in the more contrarian 2011 NFL Mock Drafts we highlight here at the sight, had himself quite a Pro Day, according to Draft Breakdown, making major improvements on his NFL Combine 40 time and impressing scouts from a number of teams and, in all likelihood, moving himself for good out of the St. Louis Rams' positioning at 14. Quinn has been a top talent in NFL Draft circles for some time, and having proven he's up to speed after a year out of college football should be all it takes to vault him toward the top 10.
Plenty of defensive help remains in the draft, if that's the direction the Rams end up going. The most popular pick in Mock Drafts to date has been Aldon Smith, Missouri's impressive defensive end; that pick's local flavor might be enough to soothe fans who were hoping the Rams could find somebody for Sam Bradford to throw to in the first round.
A minor surprise out of Mocking the Draft's 2011 NFL Mock Draft: Julio Jones went 11th, to the Houston Texans bloggers at Battle Red Blog. The Texans haven't been linked to Jones since the St. Louis Rams began coveting him, but the bloggers explain their pick by saying that, in spite of the Texans' historically bad defense, they had no choice but to take the best player available at 11. Unfortunately for our sister site Turf Show Times, picking 14th in our MTD mock draft, that happened to be the best wide receiver available, too.
The good news is that for the real Rams this seems like a relatively unlikely scenario. The Texans bloggers would have taken one of the pass-rushers they so coveted if they'd still have been around, and in the actual 2011 NFL Draft they could well be—not to mention that the Texans likely have a longer list of defensive types they covet.
And an obligation to the press. As BRB concludes, "with all the holes in their defense, the Texans would surely get KILLED by pundits and fans alike by taking an offensive player with the 11th overall pick." That's something NFL teams seem to find harder to stomach than we bloggers.
King of All NFL Mock Draft media Mel Kiper has been called a lot of things, even the King of All NFL Mock Draft Media. He's been praised and blamed for the accuracy of his picks, the strength of his endorsement, the sheer hold of his hairspray. But this is the first time I've ever seen him blamed for his loose spending habits. That's the story on Mocking the Draft, where 2005 third-rounder Channing Crowder told the radio station WQAM that "Mel Kiper... he lied to me, told me I was Top 20, had me go out and spend X amount of dollars and then owe the bank stuff."
I actually agree with the thrust of Crowder's point, which is that one can only take so much from the myriad 2011 NFL Mock Drafts we've been covering here all offseason, but if Mel Kiper is having rookies spend X amount of dollars, possibly (I'm reading between the lines) on hair products, the man simply must be stopped.
The St. Louis Rams' 2011 NFL Mock Draft star-crossed-love-connection with Julio Jones has always carried an unspoken element to it—the added danger that all star-crossed love connections require. In this case it's not a bitchin' motorcycle so much as trading up the draft board, which the Rams do in the latest mock draft from Wes Bunting. In short: The Rams trade first rounders with Jones-nemesis the Washington Redskins, giving up an extra pick to ensure they get Jones, while the Redskins hang back and take Missouri DE Aldon Smith at 14.
Well—that's one way of keeping the Redskins from drafting Julio Jones. It involves less subterfuge than my other suggestion, and fewer kidnappers.
The Turf Show Times, of course, has done the math, and VanRam can't quite see the Rams pulling the trigger on a trade that would apparently see them lose their third rounder. Wide receiver is the most obvious, most annoying hole on their roster, but there are others, and the post-Mike-Martz Rams have been risk-averse even at their most successful. Which hasn't, admittedly, been especially successful.
The 2011 NFL Mock Draft experts over at (appropriately and clearly titled) Mocking the Draft run, among other things, something called the BUST-O-METER, and this week none other than Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert was run through the most terrifying machine in mock-draft-website history. The result: A 7 out of 10.
As Jon Dove, the BUST-O-METER's Eli Whitney, notes, this series' definition of bust isn't a player who fails entirely but a player who "doesn't live up to their draft position." Given the increased likelihood that the Carolina Panthers will choose him or Cam Newton No. 1 overall, that puts Gabbert in a tougher position than most potential busts.
That said, I'm a little more sanguine about Gabbert's prospects than Dove—certainly any quarterback is a risk, but I think we're past the point in NFL history where it makes sense to ding a QB for growing up in a spread offense, given the NFL's increasing dependence on passing. There's plenty to ding Gabbert about, but if we're starting there I'm reluctant to worry about the rest of it.
Steven Jackson, the St. Louis Rams' starting running back and, until recently, their only interesting offensive player, is not especially fond of the idea of tandem-backs—he'd just as soon take all those carries himself. Unfortunately for him, the NFL, and NFL fans, are increasingly enamored of it, and throughout 2011 NFL Mock Draft season the Rams have been connected with various running backs. (Mark Ingram, the top running back in the 2011 draft class, seems to go one pick behind them, to the Miami Dolphins, as a matter of course.) Yesterday Turf Show Times considered the Rams' compatibility with Taiwan Jones, a more prototypical change-of-pace back.
I'm going to be honest—I'm a sucker for small, lightning-fast gimmick backs, and with hopes of running a 4.2 on his pro day Jones certainly qualifies. I don't know why, exactly, but I even have fond memories of the much-maligned Trung Canidate era.
Actually, on second thought, I do know why—it was the awesome name. So scratch that.
St. Louis Rams fans have had a front row seat to Julio Jones mania throughout the 2011 NFL Mock Draft season, but it looks like the post-Combine hysteria has finally reached the national media—on the NFL Network, reports Rotoworld, a talking head recently predicted the heretofore-unpredictable—that Jones would pass A.J. Green on the NFL draft board come April 28.
Yesterday's Mike Sando piece makes me less convinced than I might have been that this will happen. It reminds me, a little, of the brief, contrarian groundswell of support for Jimmy Clausen over Sam Bradford, only I won't be crushingly disappointed if the Rams anoint Julio Jones, come draft day, as their wide receiver of the future. (And who knows what exciting players will be available next year, when the Rams select another wide receiver of the future to replace him!)
Jones's 2011 has been better than any draft prospect's in the first round, but it takes more than a great NFL Combine performance to counteract months of draft-thought inertia. Come the actual 2011 NFL Draft, I think the contrarians won't be quite so loud in the war rooms as they are here on the internet.
The St. Louis Rams have been linked to multiple players since 2011 NFL Mock Draft season began, but it's usually been the same few—Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, more recently Robert Quinn. But Yahoo!'s latest mock draft throws a new tea-leaf into the crystal-ball mix, suggesting former consensus No. 1 Nick Fairley could fall the Rams' way at 14. Questions about Fairley's intangibles—namely his commitment, his maturity—have made him an enigma in draft discussions over the last few months, but I don't remember him ever falling this far.
At Turf Show Times they've discussed both the possibility of a Nick Fairley pick (somewhere between impossible and very implausible) and its feasibility, given the way his character concerns—he's supposed to have "taken plays off" as a college man—intersect with Steve Spagnuolo's by-now infamous concern about the Four Pillars of Rams football, which can be summarized as 1. Don't take plays off; 2. Never take plays off, even when you want to; 3. If you're taking plays off, stop doing that; and 4., Don't be the kind of guy who takes plays off.
I think this is all academic, given what an unlikelihood it is that he falls this far, but I'd be hard-pressed, if I were the Rams, to pass up on a player so talented.
SB Nation just came out with their latest version of the 2011 NFL Mock Draft, and they have a local product going to the Rams. With both of the elite receivers already off the board, they give the Rams Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith with the 14th pick overall. Here is their rationale.
There's a good chance that Smith goes higher than this pick; if he's available, he'd make a superb complement to Chris Long as the open-side speed rusher in Steve Spagnuolo's defense.
The Rams need a few more impact players on the defensive side of the ball, and Smith could develop into one of the best players from this draft. If there is one thing we know about coach Spagnuolo from his time in New York is that he knows how to utilize pass rushers, even if they might not be traditional fits to his defensive scheme. His defenses work best when he has a stable of athletic pass rushers to throw at the opposing offense. Smith would certainly provide some depth there, along with some serious potential.
A.J. Green has usually finished well out of the St. Louis Rams' range across 2011 NFL Mock Draft season, but recently he's been running neck and neck with beloved mock draft possibility Julio Jones, which leaves me more confused than ever. Mike Sando takes a look at that confusion and gets down to business, selecting real experts to talk to him about Green's superiority re: Jones.
What it comes down to is superior route-running, superior "game speed", and an ostensibly tangible advantage in catching ability. Green seems like a finished product, while Jones has improvements still to make—which would explain his superior NFL Combine performances, and why those haven't pushed him permanently past Green.
A.J. Green remains unlikely to fall to the Rams, but if he falls just enough to go to a team with a chance at selecting Julio Jones he could still have a serious impact on the 2011 St. Louis Rams' season. If he's just unfinished enough to fall to the Washington Redskins at 10 I'd be especially happy, but there are a number of scenarios in which the Rams could still grab Jones.
Just about a month from draft day, things on the 2011 NFL Mock Draft front have begun to stabilize, but there's still movement on WalterFootball.com's 2011 NFL Draft Consensus Big Board. Patrick Peterson remains the consensus best player available, but with St. Louis Rams fans typically mock drafting on a needs-based basis it's worth noting that, as A.J. Green remains steady at third overall, Julio Jones continues his rise up fake draft boards everywhere; he moves from ninth to eighth, thanks to a sudden drop from Prince Amukamara.
Robert Quinn, another played tied to the Rams in recent mock drafts, is a step higher than Jones thanks to a stronger consensus on his value—he's ranked from fifth to 10th by the experts WalterFootball has collated, while Jones varies from third to 17th. It's that variability that has tantalized NFL GMs and Rams fans all offseason, and it's anybody's guess as to which side of the big board he finally falls down on.
For what it's worth, I don't think TST's VanRam dropped Julio Jones to our own St. Louis Rams with the 14th pick in his Mel Kiper-y 2011 NFL Mock Draft just to avoid being deposed in a bloody blog-commentariat revolution, although I'm hearing rumors that an 86-year-old woman is already claiming to be his last living descendant and the true heir to the Turf Show Times Throne. His draft, which features Blaine Gabbert going to the Carolina Panthers at No. 1 overall, Cam Newton going third to study with former Harvard (and St. Louis!) quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the No. 10 Washington Redskins grabbing Robert Quinn instead of a wide receiver, is totally plausible.
I'm just saying that it's a nice side-bonus that he won't be assassinated during tomorrow's link-post. One thing it is missing: A.J. Green, which is probably an oversight but serves as a nice confidence-boost to a Rams fanbase that's grown increasingly despondent about Julio Jones's overwhelming post-combine momentum. If you can create a mock draft with Jones to the Rams in which A.J. Green, a surefire top 10 pick, doesn't even figure, there's certainly still a chance a first-round receiver will end up as Sam Bradford's combined birthday and Christmas present.
The St. Louis Rams' dream-pick in every 2011 NFL Mock Draft since the draft was destabilized by the defections of Andrew Luck and wide receivers Michael Floyd and Justin Blackmon has been Julio Jones, but according to Turf Show Times it's looking increasingly unlikely that the Rams will manage to get it done, with the Atlanta Falcons apparently interested in trading up to get one of the two coveted receivers still on the board. They join the Washington Redskins, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Cleveland Browns as teams interested in A.J. Green and Julio Jones who either draft or would like to draft before the Rams come in with the 14th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Such is the problem of having a comeback season with a rookie star: You don't get a chance to draft that rookie star's sidekick. The Chicago Bulls solved the problem by trading Olden Polynice for the rights to Scottie Pippen. I don't think anybody's going to trade Julio Jones for Aldon Smith, unfortunately.
At Mocking the Draft, SB Nation's NFL Draft-centric superblog, they've got a new 2011 NFL Mock Draft out, and to put you out of your misery right away I'll mention that Julio Jones goes, as ever, to the Washington Redskins at number 10. The St. Louis Rams, instead of eating an entire carton of ice cream and watching the "Casino Night" episode of The Office like I might—I actually might do this no matter how the 2011 NFL Draft goes—take the opportunity to shore up their aging defensive front, grabbing Robert Quinn out of UNC.
Quinn is an especially strange case, declared ineligible for the 2010 season after taking $5642 in benefits from an agent. That would be enough off-the-field intrigue for the average draft pick, but he's also well known for having dealt with a benign brain tumor as a senior in high school in the middle of wrestling season. Quinn was a top-five-type talent before he was suspended, and taking gifts from an agent seems Four Pillars compatible, or at least forgivable, to me.
On the list of possible Rams draft picks who are unlikely to catch passes from Sam Bradford he's rapidly moving up, at least if you believe the mock drafts.
In our 2011 NFL Mock Draft coverage it's come to this: Deciding which teams seem the most worrisome as Julio Jones traps, teams that could decide they need a wide receiver as much as the St. Louis Rams do, even though they've never had to run stories about Danario Alexander's knee. The Washington Bengals are the Rams' most common enemies on this front, picking Jones at 10 in a number of post-Combine mock drafts, but the Cincinnati Bengals are the latest threat—at fourth overall—after Peter King intimated that they have Jones higher than A.J. Green on their draft board.
The good news is that the Bengals still have to deal with Carson Palmer's retirement-backed trade demand; Julio Jones is great, but it would be easier to pull the trigger that early if the team had some idea of who might throw to him. A report on Twitter has Bengals coach Marvin Lewis saying that "the QB need is greater" than at wide receiver, but before you take that without salt keep in mind that he began it by saying "we have options at wide receiver that include Chad Ochocinco."
The 2011 NFL Mock Draft doesn't typically cover the NFL Supplemental Draft, which exists to keep players who find themselves somehow locked out of both the 2011 NFL Draft and the 2011 college football season gainfully employed, but Michael Floyd's DUI over the weekend left him suspended from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish indefinitely, which could lead him back to the NFL, a path he spurned earlier in the year. To make things more interesting: The St. Louis Rams were often linked with Floyd when it was assumed he'd enter this year's draft, instead of going back to school for his senior year.
The Rams would likely have to bid a second or third round pick to pick up Floyd, but for Steve Spagnuolo and the St. Louis Rams the troubled receiver would require yet another testing of their vaunted Four Pillars philosophy. Vincent Jackson is one thing; are the Rams ready to pick up a rookie who doesn't embody their values?
Floyd could yet return to Notre Dame for his senior year. Two players were selected in last year's supplemental draft, with Harvey Unga and Josh Brent each going for seventh-round picks to the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys, respectively.
The latest SB Nation 2011 NFL Mock Draft was rolled out Monday, and despite Blaine Gabbert's excellent Pro Day performance and Jimmy Clausen's continued existence the mothership thinks the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton will be yoked together forever come NFL Draft day, or at least until they draft another quarterback in the first round in 2012. Newton is definitely the easiest hyped of all the candidates, but putting an already-famous quarterback into an ugly situation in Carolina seems like a recipe for disaster on this end.
The St. Louis Rams luck into Julio Jones for another week, after a stretch following the NFL Combine that saw him chosen ahead of them every time. In this week's scenario A.J. Green, fresh off his poor Wonderlic scores, falls to the wide receiver-hungry Washington Redskins at 10, an infamous Julio Jones trap-spot, leaving the Rams free to select the receiver of Sam Bradford's dreams.
But anything can happen more than a month away from draft day. Whoever the Carolina Panthers pick—be it Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, or anybody else—will set off a chain reaction that could drastically alter the landscape by pick 14. Mock draft accordingly.
Whenever you consider looking too closely at the 2011 NFL Mock Draft updates we've been writing about for months now, remember that just before the 2010 NFL Draft there remained a large contingent of analysts, including Mel Kiper, who were in love with Jimmy Clausen. Sam Bradford? A risk. Clausen? NFL ready. After a momentary lull when Andrew Luck announced his intent to return to school, his year's mock drafts have begun, once more, suggesting that the Carolina Panthers will and should select another quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick, be it Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert.
Clausen was, admittedly, about as bad as a quarterback can get in 2010. He averaged 5.2 yards an attempt—only mediocre, which was a positive considering his awful completion percentage—and compounded that problem by throwing nine interceptions against just three touchdowns. Worse yet, there's no point in his season where you can say he was beginning to figure it out. There were flashes of adequacy—his 13-for-19 performance with 141 yards and a touchdown in the Panthers' win over fellow doormats the Arizona Cardinals among them—but they weren't really strung together. His last five games by adjusted yards per attempt: 4.97; 4.46; 8.47; 1.17; 4.76.
But the Panthers were awful as a unit last season; Matt Moore was even less successful in his five games in the starting role. It's always tempting to select a quarterback in the first round—they're the most important player on the field in today's game, and a guy like Cam Newton would create unparalleled fanbase excitement. But the Panthers have a lot of problems, and it might make sense, with Gabbert and Newton exciting but no more sure things than Clausen was, to try to address another, in the hopes that Clausen shows a little of the competence that led them to choose him less than a year ago as their franchise quarterback.
Turf Show Times has the latest fuel for your 2011 NFL Mock Draft fire: A.J. Green, consensus No. 1 wide receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft before Julio Jones solved childhood obesity at the NFL Combine despite playing with a broken foot, scored a nine on the Wonderlic test. Nine is not especially high, and after Vince Young's flameout career and single-digit score we're at a high tide in terms of public opinion toward the test.
But A.J. Green has spent the entire mock draft season at or near the top of most boards, and his sheer talent means the test would have to spook a lot of teams to get him to the St. Louis Rams at 14. It's different with Julio Jones; he may have introduced democracy to Eritrea and made Rolling Stone relevant again (and his foot was broken!), but all it takes is a team or two in need of a wide receiver—think the Washington Redskins—to go in another direction to see him at 14. With Green, teams won't just be thinking of need; they'll have to come up with solid reasons to avoid taking the best player available.
2011 NFL Mock Draft mavens take note: The St. Louis Rams scheduled their third pre-draft workout on Saturday, and while one of them, Missouri DE Aldon Smith, has long been a mock draft favorite at the 14th pick of the first round, two of them are offensive linemen. Lehigh's Will Rackley, "one of the top sleeper prospects in the country", is the latest; he joins Danny Watkins, who's already worked out for the Rams.
Neither is a first-round pick—Watkins was a first-round pick in the CFL last year, if that counts—but both suggest the Rams might have different ideas of making Sam Bradford's life easier if drafting Julio Jones with their first round pick doesn't work out. The Rams have yet to show any interest in Florida's possible first-round guard, Mike Pouncey.
There's no truth, I'm told, to the rumors that the Rams are working both Watkins and Rackley out at wide receiver. But the stuff about them trying Aldon Smith out at wide receiver is all true.
The 2011 NFL Mock Draft is typically a long-form work—each team, each player, sometimes all the way to Mr. Irrelevant himself. But sticking to one team—in our case the St. Louis Rams—gives us a number of possible forms to work with. Recently a Turf Show Times fanpost looked at the Rams' first three draft picks by offering an ideal option, a settle-for option, a whiff, and a Jay Zygmunt-centric choice. Read the whole thing, especially the WWJZD picks, but if you're looking for a spoiler I can confirm that Julio Jones remains the ideal pick to end all ideal Rams Mock Draft picks.
The author of the fanpost isn't high on any of the second or third-round wide receiver options in the draft, but elsewhere on TST there's talk of middle-round types like Terrance Toliver moving around draft boards across the NFL, along with Greg Little failing a number of teams' four-pillars tests. The Rams might be a little shy about taking on another project wide receiver with Mardy Gilyard still a non-factor going into the second year of his Rams career, but if they don't get Julio Jones they might have a favorite kind-of-prospect waiting in reserve.
With Julio Jones out of 2011 NFL Mock Draft reach the St. Louis Rams have been linked, increasingly frequently, with defensive linemen, among them Missouri's own Aldon Smith, whose Pro Day was yesterday. Turf Show Times reports on the divided grades Smith received there, noting that "the guy from the 3-4 team loved what he saw, and said that as Smith bulks up he'll be an outstanding rush linebacker. The 4-3 guy had a different opinion"—one that has him falling as far as the second round, which would be a shock to Mock Draft types everywhere.
I don't see him going that far, and considering that the Rams, at 14th overall, have a meeting scheduled with the guy and nobody else exactly in mind it seems like a fair bet that he'll get first round consideration from a number of teams. I'm still not ready to call off the Julio Jones mock draft jagiographizing, but when the time comes for me to realize I can't always get what I want, Aldon Smith might prove close enough to what the Rams need.
For Rams fans a 2011 NFL Mock Draft can be thrown into one of two piles—Julio Jones goes to the Washington Redskins at 10, or Julio Jones goes to the St. Louis Rams at 14. The latest Shutdown Corner mock draft goes in the first pile—Jones, with his "unreal combine performance", is gone to the Redskins. But the Rams get a surprise in this particular case, when UNC DE Robert Quinn is still available at 14. Gone before that of late in Mel Kiper's well-coiffed mocks, Quinn is one of the best defensive ends available in the first round, and Turf Show Times considers him a "very interesting pick indeed."
It wasn't as obvious as the wide receiver problem thanks to Fred Robbins's astounding season, but the Rams could certainly use some youth on the defensive line to supplement Chris Long, and Steve Spagnuolo has never met a defensive weapon he didn't like. If the real NFL Draft turns out to fall into the Jones-to-the-Redskins pile the Rams could do much worse than Robert Quinn.
The latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft from Mocking The Draft is out, and with Julio Jones going at 10 to the Washington Redskins in what seems to be the increasingly approaching conventional wisdom, the St. Louis Rams are left to improve their offensive line, reaching to draft Mike Pouncey at 14 in the first round. But MTD, at least, thinks this could be a prime NFL Draft trade spot, should the Rams find that a wide receiver or defensive difference-maker is out of their reach at the position.
At that point, all bets are off. The Rams could trade up to try to get Julio Jones, or they could trade down with the knowledge that nobody they really want is available at 14 anyway. They could keep the pick and go after one of numerous defensive prospects floating around the second half of the top 20, but it's hard to say, a month out, which of those players in particular would still be around at 14.
Only one thing is certain—whatever they do, people will find some way to be disappointed by it.
The 2011 NFL Mock Draft, a cone of NFL lockout-related silence, is back on SB Nation, and for the second straight week it's given Julio Jones to the St. Louis Rams at 14, which is enough to make even the most war-weary lockout-watcher breathe a sigh of relief before he complains about not being able to watch Julio Jones and Sam Bradford until 2012, at the rate the negotiations are going. Head Mocker Brian Galliford likes the idea of Jones with Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton, and it says a lot about the state of the Rams' current wide receiving corps that that ostensible starting three combined to play five games in the NFL last year.
Jones is too talented not to be in play earlier, and the Washington Redskins remain a serious threat to pick him off at 10. But with the hype from his incredible NFL Combine performance beginning to recede into the background ahead of the real draft, 2011 NFL Mock Draft-heads across the internet have begun to let him drift into Rams range. I'm as big a Danario Alexander fan as the next guy, but that's excellent news.
There are a few ways, when reading the 2011 NFL Mock Draft tea leaves, to tell if your team has stumbled upon a particularly bad run of draft luck. One is when your GM has made so many bad decisions that mock drafters have begun picking as though they had the same fetish—even now, with Matt Millen banished for good from the front office, I'm surprised when mockers don't saddle the Detroit Lions with a malcontent wide receiver with great physical tools. Jonathan Baldwin is still on the board! Another is when one of your picks becomes a negative comparison of first resort. Enter the St. Louis Rams—Wisconsin workout star J.J. Watt is being compared to none other than Adam Carriker.
It's almost flattering that the Rams come up so quickly. Carriker still has a lot of career left, and a change of scenery typically entitles a former bust to at least a year-and-a-half without being labeled, well, a bust. So maybe Wes Bunting isn't suggesting that Watt is the kind of player who's especially likely to be played out of position and then get hurt.
Put this in your 2011 NFL Mock Draft filing cabinet: Mel Kiper recently talked with a number of outlets, including the St. Louis Rams' official blog, about—well, about the NFL Draft. It's Mel Kiper; he wasn't talking about Libya. In any case, while Kiper is still a little worried about Julio Jones's ability to catch the ball—not to mention stay healthy—he sees him as a player worth trading up from 14 for. And a player, he added, pessimistically, that one would need to trade up from 14 for. Kiper likes him as a talented receiver who also blocks, which jibes with Jones's NFL Combine buzz about his love for knocking defenders flat on their, ah, pads.
The Rams have shown no particular interest in trading up yet—the Mock Draft Rams haven't even considered it, the short-sighted jerks—but we're still six weeks from draft time, so any conventional wisdom is bound to spoil about as quickly as conventional wisdom about the internet circa 1994. I've been unable to confirm with Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo as to whether 640k ought to be enough for anybody.
Add Don Banks of Sports Illustrated to the ever-lengthening list of sportswriters' whose 2011 NFL Mock Draft doesn't let Julio Jones slip past the Washington Redskins at 10. The Redskins need wide receivers nearly as badly as the St. Louis Rams, and "Let us have him so we can see what Sam Bradford does with a real receiver" isn't going to be as persuasive an argument, I think, as I'd like it to be. With that in mind Banks likes Aldon Smith, with the caveat that he'll have to supplement his indifferent NFL Combine performance with a superior pro day at Missouri.
The Cincinnati Bengals might prove to be the difference between Julio Jones and a defensive lineman for the Rams come draft day; their reaction to Carson Palmer's announcement that he'd never play for them again could manifest itself as choosing a quarterback, as it did in a recent SB Nation mock draft, or it could end in them taking A.J. Green, with Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton each off the board.
As a Mizzou alum there's something to be said for Aldon Smith, but I'm wary of his ability to be a deep threat in Josh McDaniels's system, at least right away...
Mel Kiper's latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft has the St. Louis Rams losing out on A.J. Green and Julio Jones; instead they pick Corey Liuget, DT from Illinois. With the Rams' defensive line aging aside from Chris Long they've definitely got a need for some young talent at the position, however you feel about the excitement-value of a draft pick who Sam Bradford will never throw to on purpose.
Defensive line is a major position of strength in the 2011 NFL Draft, which means the Rams will have a number of choices at end or tackle. Some of the commenters on Turf Show Times raise an interesting point—if it comes to the defensive line on the Rams' draft board it suddenly becomes plausible that they might trade down for a later first round pick, unless they have a name brand they're looking to grab with the 14th pick.
Kiper likes Blaine Gabbert as his number-one overall pick, with Nick Fairley—who's fallen in several other mock drafts since filling the Andrew Luck vacuum early—going second to the Denver Broncos.
At SB Nation St. Louis we've covered seemingly every possible 2011 NFL Mock Draft scenario in which Julio Jones falls to the St. Louis Rams, and for good reason—he's the dreamiest wide receiver in the Rams' draft range, and has been all year. But SB Nation's latest mock draft is one I don't think we've dreamt about yet; in it, both Jones and A.J. Green fall farther than they have in recent weeks.
This seems more plausible than most Jones scenarios because it's less specific; rather than falling to the Rams because his broken foot isn't quite right, or his perfect NFL Combine gets ruined by Jim Joyce after 26 outs, the draft climate just happens to be cool on the two available wide receivers that day.
The end result, then, is the opposite of the canonical fantasy draft run on tight ends or kickers—just a slight decrease in interest on Green could leave both receivers available deeper in the draft than we have any other reason to expect. New NFL Draft, of course, shows the other option—no matter how deep Green gets, it's easy to see the Washington Redskins snapping up a wide receiver, leaving the Rams with one of a glut of interesting defensive ends.
Blaine Gabbert didn't throw in the NFL Combine, but it's done nothing to hurt his status as we reach the home stretch of 2011 NFL Mock Draft season. With the Carolina Panthers' number-one overall pick being handed to a quarterback more and more frequently of late—WalterFootball.com likes Cam Newton, while SB Nation has picked Newton and Gabbert in recent weeks—Gabbert has become a frequent pick atop draft boards the internet over.
Despite playing his entire career in the kind of spread offense that can flatten the sheer-talent difference between Chase Daniel and, well, Blaine Gabbert, he's emerged as the kind of Safe NFL-Ready Quarterback of choice in the Panthers' debate relative to Newton, who brings with him star power, a high ceiling, and more risk.
As for Gabbert's development, Mocking The Draft thinks he'd be best served falling to the San Francisco 49ers and their quarterback-friendly new offense. Other solid spots include the Buffalo Bills, where he could intern for a year or so under Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the Washington Redskins.
After Julio Jones's performance at the Combine it's been hard to imagine a lot of scenarios in which he falls to the St. Louis Rams at 14, but in the latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft from SB Nation Brian Galliford offers a hazy view of a scenario in which some gutsy picks ahead of the Rams in the first round lead to Jones being available at that spot. Here's what happens: Cam Newton goes first overall to the star-crazy Carolina Panthers; the Cincinnati Bengals, convinced Carson Palmer really will retire rather than play for them, pick Blaine Gabbert; the Washington Redskins, a top wide receiver spot in mock drafts to date, take DE J.J. Watt. And finally, after a mini-run on defensive ends, the Rams find themselves with Julio Jones at 14.
In spite of all this, Galliford isn't convinced, with Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery ostensibly healthy next year, that the Rams really need a wide receiver. I think Josh McDaniels will likely prove to be their most important offensive acquisition in 2011, but nobody like Julio Jones ever been justifiably blocked by anyone like Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery. If the 2011 NFL Draft plays out like this mock-scenario, the Rams will have finally found Sam Bradford somebody to key in on.
I think if you were to conduct an informal poll of Rams fans and asked them who they would like to see the team draft in the first round of the NFL Draft, Julio Jones would probably win in a landslide. He makes a lot of sense in the St. Louis offense, and he has the upside to become one of the best players in the class.
But a strong performance at the Combine might have moved Jones too far up the draft board for the Rams. They pick 14th, and Jones proved that he is worthy of being picked well before that. But after the Combine we found out that Jones had a broken foot. That makes his combine performance more impressive, but it also means surgery which could scare teams off. That is why, in their latest edition of the 2011 NFL Mock Draft, SB Nation has Jones falling back to the Rams at 14th.
Most consider this Jones' worst-case-scenario landing point, and with good reason: Sam Bradford needs more weapons. I'm just not sure it's as huge a need for the Rams as perceived; Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery return to full health next season, after all.
That may be true. The Rams might need some other positions more than they need a wide receiver. But Sam Bradford does need help, and the Rams might not be able to justify leaving a potential game-breaker like Jones on the board if he is available when they are drafting. He and Bradford could form a successful tandem for years to come, and that has to be a pretty exciting prospect for those in charge of making the pick.
Just in time for the climax of 2011 NFL Mock Draft season the BUST-O-METER has returned to Mocking the Draft, profiling as its 15th-bustiest player recent consensus-number-one Nick Fairley. Fairley's bust-worthiness, according to the article, comes from his limited track record as a community college transfer; MTD's Jon Dove thinks that one year is about as good a bit of draft evidence as one year can get, but as a general rule it's fair to wonder how his number-one plaudits will go up if Fairley turns out to have peaked at 22.
Last year's BUST-O-METER—the capital letters seem to offer it the right amount of foreboding—correctly picked Jimmy Clausen as someone who might not be franchise quarterback material, just a year ahead of the Carolina Panthers' attempts to replace him with a franchise quarterback. Its number-one pick was New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had a solid rookie season in 2010 out of the 15th overall spot.
So Nick Fairley needn't worry about being smitten by the NFL Mock Draft Gods, but the unrelated Small Sample Size Gods are never shy about asking for new object lessons; maybe that has something to do with his recent and unprompted slide down certain mock draft boards.
After a sizzling NFL Combine performance we should have known the St. Louis Rams' most consistent 2011 NFL Mock Draft choice, Julio Jones, would prove a little too good to be true. But it seems now, from looking at WalterFootball.com's "2011 NFL Draft consensus", that he's even too-good-er than we thought. A.J. Green remains the top wide receiver, the consensus second-best player in the draft, but Julio Jones is eighth on this collection of big boards—this even-bigger-board, I guess.
Of course, if you're an especially optimistic type, there's still room for it with news like this. It just goes to show, after all, how inexact an art mock drafting is—and how draft-position so frequently diverges from actual measurements of talent. Jones, after all, is five spots higher on this list than Blaine Gabbert, who's extremely likely to go earlier; Patrick Peterson, the LSU cornerback, is the highest player on the board, mainly because nobody's especially negative on him, while Gabbert, unranked in Wes Bunting's estimation, suffers for that lack of certainty.
Jones has a wide variance of his own—Bunting ranks him third, while Tony Pauline, of Sports Illustrated, drops him all the way to 17th.
So far as I can tell this 2011 NFL Mock Draft season, there are two ways for a quarterback prospect to get a lot of press. One option that Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert has demonstrated is to be the best pro-style quarterback in your class. People like Gabbert because he throws the ball a long way, does it with a certain likable accuracy, and looks very much like a quarterback. The other option—Cam Newton is this year's example—is to be an interesting quarterback prospect who is also a publicity magnet. Tim Tebow is the classical example, in the news this afternoon because he revealed the kind of underwear he prefers. (Hint: Briefs!)
Gabbert is the post-Combine winner of SB Nation's own mock draft, soaring up to number-one not on the strength of his Combine performance but on the Carolina Panthers' continued hesitance to call Jimmy Clausen Their Guy. But he would be well-advised to keep his underwear preferences a mystery until such time as he needs a late publicity boost, maybe when Nick Fairley returns to the top of the draft board wondering what happened to get him knocked down to nine, or when Julio Jones finds a way to cure cancer that involves running really fast on a broken foot.
With Julio Jones's prospects of slipping to number 14 looking ever dimmer, it might be worth looking, in this week's 2011 NFL Mock Draft, at players who could replace newly departed St. Louis Rams stalwart safety O.J. Atogwe, who signed a five-year deal with the Washington Redksins on Thursday. "Freak athlete" Patrick Peterson is arguably the top draft prospect in the defensive backfield, but Rahim Moore out of UCLA, the top safety in the draft, is an early second-rounder in the latest WalterFootball.com mock draft.
It's looking increasingly like the Rams will have to consider second-round type wide receivers like Jonathan Baldwin and Leonard Hankerson with Julio Jones ending most of the world's wars during the NFL Combine, but with Atogwe gone for good the real Rams have one more problem to solve in 2011 NFL Mock Drafts, and the opening safety will now become a part of both real and mock draft boards everywhere until April 28. I don't envy real or fake Rams GMs at this point in time.
If you were looking for some kind of St. Louis Rams-benefitting discount in the Julio Jones sweepstakes thanks to his recent foot injury—even after he ran a 4.39 on it—the most recent 2011 NFL Mock Draft scuttlebutt probably disabused you of that notion. But if that didn't dissuade you from dreaming big, I'd like to offer as evidence the current timetable for his recovery, which suggests he should be healthy by the end of April. The end of April, you'll recall, is when they hold the NFL Draft.
Nevertheless, Turf Show Times offers as counterexamples the cases of Michael Crabtree and especially Demaryius Thomas, whose foot injury dogged him throughout his rookie season under the watchful eye of one Josh McDaniels. If it means that Julio Jones could slip to 14, which hasn't happened in a Mock Draft in some time, it seems, I would be inclined to subscribe to their newsletter.
In any case, Jones's foot injury is less useful for the Rams in the coming months than, say, trying to find a way to convince the Washington Redskins that drafting a wide receiver is a sucker's bet. I'm open to any and all suggestions about this.
The new SB Nation 2011 NFL Mock Draft is out with the NFL Combine finally in the books, and while Julio Jones is off the board early the major national story would be Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert cutting through the top 10 all the way to number one, to the Carolina Panthers. That’s quite a move for a guy who didn’t throw in the Combine, though he did almost outrun Cam Newton in the 40.
Gabbert is a seriously talented quarterback, and at just 21 he’ll have plenty of time to develop in whichever system drafts him. (It’s interesting that the prejudice against spread offense quarterbacks like Gabbert appears to be finally receding, now that NFL teams are looking more and more like their high-scoring college counterparts.) But I’d worry, if I were a Panthers fan, about Gabbert getting thrown into the fire early when Jimmy Clausen continues to scuffle; in terms of NFL-readiness he’s not quite Sam Bradford.
Cam Newton, if you’re interested, falls to the Minnesota VIkings at 12 in this latest mock draft. Because two years with Brett Favre wasn’t enough of a circus atmosphere for the Metrodome faithful.
SB Nation just came out with their latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft, and it looks a lot like the the Walter football mock draft we just described below, at least in terms of the Rams and their potential interests. They have Julio Jones, who has been one of the favorite prospects among Rams supporters going tenth to the Redskins after his dominant Combine performance. All of which happened on a broken foot.
As for the Rams, they also have them taking Aldon Smith, the defensive end out of Missouri. Here is their rationale.
Wide receiver is the Rams' most pressing need, but with the top two receivers off the board, defensive end becomes the next point of focus. Smith, a sophomore, is very raw, but is a great physical complement to Chris Long and a nice fit for Steve Spagnuolo's defense.
Smith would be a nice project along the defensive line, but I'm not sure the Rams can afford to miss on another a prospect first round pick at that position. Unfortunately, if you look at the next few picks on the board, they are all defensive and offensive lineman. If the two main wide receivers are off the board, defensive line may be the direction they choose to go in.
The first post-NFL-combine 2011 NFL Mock Drafts are coming out, and things do not look good for the St. Louis Rams—particularly the St. Louis Ram in charge of throwing footballs to people who try to catch them. Julio Jones, coming off his near-perfect combine performance, jumps up to No. 10 in the latest WalterFootball mock draft, going to the Washington Redskins, who have similar wide receiver needs with Santana Moss a free agent.
This is something less than an exact science, of course—they have on-and-off consensus No. 1 Nick Fairley slipping all the way to No. 8, and Blaine Gabbert, who didn't throw at the combine, is off the board at No. 7.
Their pick for the Rams is Aldon Smith, who would at least offer a local angle with which to assuage our wide receiver anxieties, not to mention giving Chris Long somebody to high-five after particularly awesome sacks. I enjoy mock drafts as much as the next guy, but I think it's important to remember that all it takes for a player to begin sliding is one unorthodox pick that unsettles things in the top five.
Julio Jones, the star of the NFL Combine last week, will spend this week as the fastest-moving player in the 2011 NFL mock draft season. With A.J. Green's stock unchanged from before the combine, either wide receiver could emerge a top-five pick in this week's SB Nation Mock Draft. And it looks increasingly likely that they'll be the only two wide receivers in the first round.
Jones's outstanding 40 times and great reviews from scouts and bloggers were only made more impressive when it was revealed that he played through a broken foot all week. A.J. Green's 4.50 40 disappointed some observers, but a middling showing at the Combine isn't enough to dent a draft stock that's proven so solid to date.
Whoever comes out on top can only mean bad news for the St. Louis Rams, who appear ever less likely to pick a wide receiver with their awkward 14th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Jonathan Baldwin, the receiver most likely to sneak into the first round with a great showing at the combine, only compounded his recent problems with a distinctly unimpressive week.
Jonathan Baldwin, lately at the back of the average 2011 NFL Mock Draft first round, was touted ahead of the NFL Combine as a player who could push deep into the first round with a performance that showed off his immense physical talents. The Pitt wide receiver might well have run himself out of the first day, putting together a 4.52 40-yard dash and apparently falling down during a receiving drill.
Baldwin, who's had to answer questions about his work ethic since a contentious relationship with coach Dave Wannstedt became public, was widely expected to run a 4.3 40, which would have, given his 6-5, 230-pound frame, allayed a number of potential character concerns. But a weak performance at the Combine makes him extremely likely to fall to the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, held April 28-30.
In the last SB Nation mock draft before the Combine he had fallen out of the first round entirely; his performance so far means he's unlikely to reenter it, let alone soothe the St. Louis Rams' concerns about Julio Jones' rising draft stock.
VanRam of Turf Show Times continues to pound the NFL Combine pavement, and Saturday he caught up with 2011 NFL Mock Draft Hero Julio Jones for a few questions that only confirmed, to him, that the St. Louis Rams need to draft Julio Jones if they can get him. About his occasionally maligned hands he said he was learning to "play fast but not hurry"; about what he liked to do on a football field he said something that will endear himself with the Smash-Mouth Football types as much as any wide receiver can.
"I love to hit defenders," he said, "take them out of their comfort zone." Well—I guess I can't begrudge him that. With the Rams picking at 14 in the first round of the NFL Draft, there is such a thing as Jones having too good a Combine; thus far he seems to be pressing all the right buttons that might end with him going ahead of the team's near-playoff pick.
Follow TST for all the latest Julio Jones-related coverage from the NFL Combine.
VanRam of Turf Show Times is at the NFL Combine, covering the imminent destruction of 2011 NFL Mock Drafts the world over, and he's got comments from possible wide receivers Jonathan Baldwin and Leonard Hankerson, who stand as possible upgrades for the St. Louis Rams should Julio Jones be gone before their first pick of the draft.
Baldwin, whose draft stock is being pushed up by his incredible physical skills at the same time his contentious relationship with his coaches at Pitt pushes it down, had little to say about his make-up but a lot to say about his skills. To summarize: "I'm fast. I'm smart as well... I'm flexible. I can do all of those things." He's good enough; he's smart enough; and gosh darn-it, people aside from Dave Wannstedt like him.
Hankerson forced his way into the second round of most mock drafts with an excellent Senior Bowl showing and could end up near the back of the first round, depending on how things go from here. He was more laconic than Baldwin, offering as a sales pitch his size, his ability to run good routes, and his ability to catch the ball. These are all important things, although I doubt the teams at the Combine will take his word for it.
The 2011 NFL Mock Draft Destroyer known as the NFL Combine has descended upon Indianapolis, which means that SB Nation has briefly transitioned from running actual mock drafts to running stories about players whose stock might rise in the next one. On that list: Julio Jones, St. Louis Rams pick of first resort, and Mizzou quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who isn't even throwing at the Combine.
Brian Galliford suggests that Jones could chase erstwhile mock-number-one-overall A.J. Green down with a strong Combine performance thanks to his superior route-running abilities, which would be bad news for a Rams team whose shot is dependent on the second-best receiver in the draft, whoever it is, staying exactly where he is. If a good Combine means Jones moves up in future mock drafts, and a bad one means he moves down—well, start looking at defensive upgrades, I guess.
Gabbert's case, I suppose, is dependent on Cam Newton's attempt to wow Combine scouts falling flat on its face. This feels a little like benching yourself after you've won the batting title to me, although Newton could remain ahead of Gabbert even with a so-so performance.
With the NFL Combine in progress, 2011 NFL Mock Draft mavens have one last chance to predict the future before everything blows up in their faces. Jon Dove of Mocking The Draft graded Fanhouse's last pre-Combine mock draft, and their predictable Julio Jones pick for the St. Louis Rams grades, predictably, as high as any in the draft. Few teams have such obvious needs as the Rams, and few players are better matched to them to Jones. Perhaps more interesting—Jonathan Baldwin has sneaked back into at least one mock first round ahead of the Scouting Combine, where he's expected to show off outstanding speed for his size. (Or else.)
Baldwin's an overdraft in the Rams position, and he's falling specifically because he wouldn't fit Steve Spagnuolo's much-talked-about four pillars. But the Mock New England Patriots' pick of the Pitt receiver at 28 earns a B+ from SB Nation's mock-drafter-in-residence, even though that 4.3 speed remains strictly theoretical at this hour.
A combination of a great Combine performance from Baldwin or another second round-ish receiver, not to mention the possibility that Jones is off the board by the time the Rams have a chance to draft him, could still lead to the Rams trading their awkwardly positioned pick.
Over at SB Nation the 2011 NFL Mock Draft has long since moved on from linking Julio Jones and the St. Louis Rams—for novelty's sake, if nothing else—but elsewhere on the internet the admittedly organic connection remains pretty strong. At WalterFootball.com, now doing five rounds, Jones remains tops on the Rams' list, with defensive upgrades Aldon Smith and Corey Liuget close behind. Elsewhere in the WF draft—some added protection for Sam Bradford in the form of Penn State offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski.
Jurrell Casey of USC is their third round choice for the Rams, another attempt to bolster an aging defensive front, with the team's fourth and fifth round picks going to Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State running back and the latest attempt to keep Steven Jackson ambulatory as long as possible, and OLB J.T. Thomas of West Virginia.
Of course, this is all so nebulous, and so dependent on the Rams snagging Jones in the first round; if another team picks him off before 14th overall, I'd expect the Rams to take a flyer on a Leonard Hankerson type as soon as they can manage it.
The last 2011 NFL Mock Draft before the NFL Combine is out from the mothership at SB Nation, and with Julio Jones still off the board the Mock Drafters have finally given St. Louis Rams fans the defensive end they want—Missouri's Aldon Smith. With teammate Blaine Gabbert moving up the board to the Buffalo Bills at number three, Smith falls just enough to land in the Rams arms ahead of the Scouting Combine, where all of this will be rendered completely irrelevant.
Smith would make a great bookend with Chris Long, who finally showed, in 2010, that he was a player who could be built around, instead of atop, and the local flavor makes him more intriguing than Cal's Cameron Jordan. This offseason's big offensive pick-up might remain Josh McDaniels; in this case at least Steve Spagnuolo would get his man.
In case you were wondering, Brian Galliford, our mock-drafter of choice, doesn't have a single wide receiver going in the first round after Jones, leaving popular high-risk athlete Jonathan Baldwin out entirely. Few players could benefit more from an outrageous Combine performance than Baldwin, so that's likely to change in our next mock draft; elsewhere on the reach front, Leonard Hankerson's Senior Bowl onslaught appears to have not been quite enough to push him into the back of the first round.
2011 NFL Mock Draft mavens are generally in agreement about the 14th pick in the draft, but they have had something of a hard time deciding what the St. Louis Rams might do if Julio Jones doesn’t fall their way. With the NFL Scouting Combine one week away Jones is still the only consensus future-Ram
On SB Nation’s mock drafts they briefly settled on Cameron Jordan as the Rams’ fallback pick—they think Jones will go in the top 10—but recently they sent Jordan to the Detroit Lions at 13, leaving the Rams with another defensive end, Ryan Kerrigan, in their spot. Aldon Smith, perhaps the most popular defensive option among Rams fans, is currently picked to go 11th to the Houston Texans.
This isn’t just an example of how unsettled the 2011 NFL Draft still remains with just a week until the Combine; it’s an example of how light the wide receiver class is beyond Jones. The Rams’ defensive-line fallbacks, per mock drafters, go something like four or five deep at the 14th spot in the draft. But there’s only one Julio Jones, and then a bunch of early-second-round complementary picks.
Turf Show Times‘s 2011 NFL Mock Draft coverage moves on today to Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft, which offers a tough scenario for the St. Louis Rams. A.J. Green and Julio Jones are gone, in this scenario, and TST favorites Mark Ingram and Aldon Smith aren’t his choice—it’s Illinois DT Corey Liuget.
Offensive-minded Mock Draft watchers—Kiper “suspects” that the Rams would target Julio Jones in any scenario in which he’s still on the board. With that in mind, he offers them a chance to pick up some depth on the defensive line with Fred Robbins and James Hall not getting any younger.
TST’s 3k, for his part, can understand the coiffed one’s reasoning, but with Smith and other defensive ends on the board he can’t quite justify going after an interior lineman. In any case, it looks like the consensus pick if Jones leaves the board early is a youth-infusion for the defensive line, be it a matched bookend for Chris Long or a youthful rotation partner at DT.
SB Nation's latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft goes to the second round for the first time all year, and for their first attempt at the St. Louis Rams they've solved the lack of first round wide receivers available beyond A.J. Green and Julio Jones by... not taking a first round wide receiver! In the second round they picked none other than Leonard Hankerson, whose Senior Bowl performance has vaulted him into discussions he hadn't been a part of before.
Hankerson, if you haven't been thinking about the second round yet, is a Miami receiver who Turf Show Times describes as a smaller Danario Alexander with better route-running skills who didn't, it should be said, ruin his knee at the Senior Bowl.
Fantasy Football Toolbox describes Hankerson as a guy who could "sneak up" on players like Jonathan Baldwin, who could end up at the end of the first round; he could be a tough get with the Rams' mid-second-round pick, but a likely target if they trade down out of their perch in the middle of the first.
SB Nation has been rolling out one round mock drafts for well over a month now, but now they've expanded into a two round format. Twice the speculation, at least five times the fun. For St. Louis, the objective goal is to add talent to a young foundation. We know Sam Bradford is going to be here, and there are pieces on the defense capable of contributing to an elite defense. The next step is to add complementary pieces around them.
In the first round of their latest mock draft, SB Nation has the Rams taking Ryan Kerrigan, a defensive end from Purdue. Here is their rationale.
Chris Long finally showed signs of life in 2010, but he needs a bookend. Kerrigan's motor would make him an excellent complement.
Kerrigan is a good player, but I'm not sure they can afford to take a "bookend" when there are so many other positions on the field that need filling. As for the second round, they have the Rams taking Miami wide receiver Leonard Hankerson.
The Rams still have deep threats Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery returning; Hankerson is a high-upside complement.
Hankerson is the kind of player that would be an excellent fit with the Rams. He is a sure handed possession receiver, and even though he doesn't have elite speed, he should be able to make plays in the NFL. Hankerson could be a great player in St. Louis for a long time.
The 2011 NFL Mock Draft season has officially gotten under way—we now have our annual counterfactual report about two players’ draft stocks. Last year there was Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh, not to mention Jimmy Clausen and Sam Bradford; this year Turf Show TImes notices some talk about Julio Jones and A.J. Green, with apparently one scout apparently preferring the “more physical” Jones against the “more athletic” Green. Well, if you say so.
As Clausen and Bradford demonstrated for us St. Louis Rams fans in 2010, I don’t put a lot of stock in this late-stage revisioning. Jones could yet blow Green out of the water at the NFL Combine, but until then he’s in the Rams’ territory and Green remains the possible number-one pick.
TST also brings up the continued possibility that the Rams might trade down if both receivers are gone by the middle of the first round, so as to take Jonathan Baldwin or Leonard Hankerson. Number-14 isn’t an especially valuable spot, but if the Rams can get something extra out of it and still give Bradford a new weapon to develop it’ll be a worthwhile move.
The 2011 NFL Mock Draft-apalooza is back in full force with the Super Bowl diminishing in the rear-view outside Titletown, and SB Nation's latest mock draft has the St. Louis Rams taking Cameron Jordan, DE from Cal, in the event that Julio Jones goes earlier than the 14th pick.
Jordan is unlikely to catch 90 passes any time soon, but he would look nice lined up across from emerging quarterback-terror American Dragon Chris Long. The mothership's reasoning for passing on Jones isn't quite convincing—whether they resign Mark Clayton or not they still don't have a number-one receiver—but there are plenty of teams looking for a wide receiver ahead of the Rams, and it's not a sure thing that Jones will be available. Past him: The wide receiver wasteland left by Michael Floyd and Justin Blackmon.
Mocking the Draft suggests Jordan isn't a "hair-on-fire kind of player"; the negative is that he won't work all over the line, but the positive is that his helmet won't melt and fuse to his skull. They finally suggest he's not a top-five talent but is a first rounder, which sounds almost exactly like the number-14 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Pretty much every football related blog on the SB Nation network has coverage about the upcoming NFL Draft, but only one blog covers it full time. Mocking The Draft is populated with prospect profiles, draft related news and of course, all the mock drafts you can handle. Their latest mock came out a few days ago, and they have the Rams taking Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones with the fourteenth overall pick. Here is their rationale.
The tandem of Jones and Bradford has the potential to be very special. The Rams need to focus on giving their star quarterback weapons and Jones has good size and speed.
The Rams are a team that is in need of help at many positions on the field, but none arguably more glaring than wide receiver. After Mark Clayton went down last year, Sam Bradford didn't have a player who could be considered a legit number one option.
Jones could definitely provide that. If A.J. Green wasn't in this draft, Jones would likely be a top ten pick as the best wide receiver prospect in the draft. In fact, coming out of high school, Jones and Green were similarly touted prospects. Jones might even be a better fit with the accurate throwing Sam Bradford given his ability to run after the catch. He would represent good value at this pick at a position of need for the Rams. Can't do much better than that. Here's hoping he's available when that pick comes around.
The Rams played better last season than anyone could have expected, narrowly missing out on a playoff spot behind rookie quarterback Sam Bradford (I know it was the NFC West, but still). Therefore, they will be drafting a lot later in the first round than they might have been expected to when the season began. But that doesn't mean they won't have a good opportunity to improve the club with the 14th overall pick.
SB Nation just released their latest mock draft, and they have the Rams taking Cameron Jordan, a defensive lineman out of Cal. Here is their rationale.
A receiver would be nice for the Rams, but there's at least a solid chance the team will re-sign Mark Clayton. There's nothing across from Chris Long at defensive end, and Jordan's stock is hot after an outstanding week at the Senior Bowl.
It seems like the Rams are looking for a defensive lineman every year about this time. Jordan had an excellent week at the Senior Bowl and sky rocketed up draft charts. He went from a borderline first round pick to someone nearly guaranteed to be taken in the top 20. If he plays as well as he did there in the NFL, he could be a big difference maker for the Rams. But the question has to be asked, Why didn't he show that kind of ability before the Senior Bowl practices?
The Rams could still use some help at the offensive skill positions, and there are other spots on the defense that could use help. But there should be a lot of players available that could fit into the Rams system. They should have their pick of the litter.
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