NFL Draft Countdown: A Look Back At The Mock Draft Rams

The Rams got a great player in Sam Bradford through the draft last year. Who will they take this year with the 14th overall pick?

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NFL Draft Countdown: A Look Back At The Mock Draft Rams

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. 

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Julio Jones Reemerges For St. Louis Rams In Final Hours

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.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Corey Liuget Still St. Louis Rams' Julio Jones Fallback

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.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Rams Have Share Of Draft Busts

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. 

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Michael Floyd's Supplemental Draft Chances

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. 

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams Schedule Pre-Draft Workouts

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. 

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Robert Quinn A St. Louis Rams Gift

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. 

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Julio Jones And St. Louis Rams Connect Again

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.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper On Julio Jones And The Rams

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. 

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Julio Jones, Aldon Smith Figure In Latest

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...

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton Gather Buzz

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

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Blaine Gabbert, Tim Tebow, Underwear Secrets

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.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Julio Jones Could Be Healthy By Draft Day

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.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Blaine Gabbert, Carolina Panthers In Post-Combine Shuffle

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.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Julio Jones Grades Out, Jonathan Baldwin Sneaks In

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. 

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Aldon Smith St. Louis Rams' Pre-Combine Projection

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.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Julio Jones The Only Popular Pick

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.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper's St. Louis Rams Scenario

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.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Will Julio Jones, A.J. Green Switch Places?

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.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Cameron Jordan SB Nation's St. Louis Rams Pick

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. 

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