The 2011 NFL Draft had a bumper crop of wide receivers a few weeks ago—with the NFL's prospective labor problems in the background underclassmen were expected to show up for their bonuses by the truckload before rookie salary inflation became one of the major talking points between the owners and the players who'd already taken advantage of rookie salary inflation. The Rams backed their truck up to the number-14 spot in the draft and waited for the harvest. Enter: An inexplicable blight. Mock Draft favorites Michael Floyd and Justin Blackmon decided to stay in school, Andrew Luck's departure shook up the top of the draft, and the Rams find the pickings slim between sure-fire top-tenner A.J. Green and the rest of the 2011 draft's suddenly spartan receiving corps.
Floyd and Blackmon had been trading places on the Rams' mock draft board for weeks, so it was a little fitting that they left it together. Floyd is an especially confusing absence for me—barring a poor season Blackmon could find himself in Green's shoes for the 2012 NFL Draft, but Floyd would be hard-pressed to improve on the middle of the first round.
Without them, the Rams find themselves adrift in a wide receiver dead zone. Green is unlikely to drop past six, and unless he drops that far door-number-two Julio Jones is likely to join him in the top 10. After Green and Jones sat Floyd and Blackmon, right in the Rams' range—and after that Pitt's Jonathan Baldwin, who, in the latest SB Nation Mock Draft, goes to the Kansas City Chiefs at 21 as Dwayne Bowe Insurance.
The Rams, in that mothership scenario, punt on offense entirely—a not-unfamiliar sight for Rams fans—and pick a defensive end, Justin Houston. But the Rams' defense is already ready for prime time—they finished 12th in the NFL in points allowed despite playing on the other side of an offense that couldn't stay on the field to save its own life, let alone theirs. Improving on their play with a rookie addition will be much tougher than augmenting the offense, even with a less-than-ideal pick.
If Baldwin has a great performance at the NFL Combine, or the Rams decide that maybe Steven Jackson shouldn't be the last every-down running back kind-of-standing, they'd be well-served by closing their eyes, thinking of Laurent Robinson, and drafting for offense. The crop might be less than ideal, but the Rams are still starving for points.