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2011 NFL Draft Grades: Austin Pettis A New Direction For Desperate Rams

For the St. Louis Rams, Austin Pettis's selection in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft is a chance to start over—to wipe the NFL Draft grades at wide receiver clean. Last year's middle-round gamble didn't pay off; Mardy Gilyard, a dynamic playmaker at Cincinnati, struggled to learn the playbook and disappeared with the Rams, even after injuries decimated the team's wide receiving corps, and nobody's quite sure where his future lies, even with a new playbook to learn or not learn. 

Pettis is a big target with average speed who caught 39 touchdowns in four years at Boise State. He's not going to appear on highlight reels for his work in the open field, but he's more likely than Gilyard, at this juncture, to actually get on the field.

Last year Sam Bradford's only consistent targets were short-yardage specialist Danny Amendola and the tight end flavor of the week. If Pettis gets up to speed faster than Gilyard he could give Bradford a slightly deeper option to trust, and a red zone target to acquire. That's worth a tentative B according to my rubric, especially if it means fewer bullets behind the line of scrimmage in Josh McDaniels's new offense.