The 2011 NFL season has only a scant six games remaining, so as the college football year ties up and the pros finish out the regular season, the 2012 NFL Draft begins to come into clearer focus.
Teams have begun to separate into general areas of strength, giving draft experts and analysts their first shots at the possible draft order for next year's big day. So far the standings, sorted by record and then point differentials, looks like this:
|2||St. Louis Rams||2||7||.222||113||223||-110|
|12||Kansas City Chiefs||4||5||.444||141||218||-77|
|13||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||4||5||.444||156||233||-77|
|15||San Diego Chargers||4||5||.444||216||228||-12|
|19||New York Jets||5||4||.556||215||200||15|
|22||New York Giants||6||3||.667||218||211||7|
|25||New England Patriots||6||3||.667||259||200||59|
|29||New Orleans Saints||7||3||.700||313||228||85|
|31||San Francisco 49ers||8||1||.889||233||138||95|
|32||Green Bay Packers||9||0||1.000||320||186||134|
Peter Schrager, one of the first draft gurus to come out with his 2012 draft predictions, thinks the Rams will bolster their offense with an OSU junior who has a nose for the endzone:
2. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: It would take a few days to wipe the smile off Sam Bradford’s face if the Rams land Blackmon. Yes, St. Louis spent a few later round picks on receivers Greg Salas and Austin Pettis last year, but neither guy is an elite talent like Blackmon. For Bradford to fully develop, he needs a go-to, game-breaker on the outside. That guy’s Blackmon.
The Rams presently have Brandon Lloyd, who led the NFL in receiving yards in 2010, but who also turns 31 next July. Lloyd has over 500 receiving yards this year in his time with both the Denver Broncos and the Rams, by far leading all other Rams receivers. The next closest is the injured Danario Alexander with a shade under 300.
Moreover, Greg Salas, who was seeing more playing time and more success as the season went along, is now on the IR with a broken tibula. The Rams clearly do not have a need at running back or quarterback, so if they want the biggest and fastest impact on their offense, they may not find much better than Blackmon at number two.
According to Dan Kadar of Mocking the Draft:
[Blackmon] showed in 2010 that he's perhaps the most consistent superstar in college football. Had more than 100 yards receiving and at least one touchdown in every game last season. His efforts earned him the Biletnikoff Award.
Interestingly, Schrager -- who must make his own prediction for the end-of-season standings -- appears to agree with the current standings above that suggest the Rams will have the second pick in the draft.
Justin Blackmon, who stands only at 6'1", has over 1100 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns through 11 games with the Oklahoma St. Cowboys and last year finished the season with over 1700 yards and 20 touchdowns.