This is the second year in a row the St. Louis Rams have attempted to revamp their wide receiving corps through the NFL Draft. Results of the first attempt: Somewhere between Not Great to Super-Terrible. Austin Pettis, drafted in the third round, caught 27 balls, made some ugly drops early in the season, and will have to fight his way into the roster picture in 2012. Greg Salas caught 27 balls, made some even uglier early drops, and will have to do the same after missing the end of the season with a broken leg. So what will Brian Quick and Chris Givens, the 2012 draft's receivers, have to do to avoid a similar fate?
1. Oust Danny Amendola as Sam Bradford's go-to receiver. Pettis and Salas weren't able to do this and Danny Amendola didn't even play last year. One of Quick or Givens, to make this year's draft class appear successful, will have to become Bradford's No. 1 option by the end of the season.
In theory, this shouldn't be so difficult-Amendola is a steady receiver with good hands, but a quarterback is going to get out of him no more and no less yardage than he puts in.
1a. (Quick, for his part, as the raw/high-upside guy, could probably count it as a success if he just managed to oust Danario Alexander as Bradford's go-to deep option.)
2. Don't lose any games with glaringly bad drops. Part of what doomed Pettis and Salas was that both of them made brutal drops late in games back when people still believed the Rams would compete, or at least not go 2-14, and back when Sam Bradford was a golden-god-in-training and not a franchise-quarterback fixer-upper.
Quick and Givens-especially Givens, who won't have so much slack-will have to, at worst, stay out of the way early in the season. Not so much that they fade into the ether like Mardy Gilyard, but no news, for a while, will be good news.
Danny Amendola's presence will actually help them in this respect; with the game on the line Bradford's going to rely on him, anyway, to the exclusion of everyone else, especially in short yardage situations.
3. Give the fans someone to expect good things from. Not even great things-just good things. Since Torry Holt's exit the Rams have never had a receiver they can consistently expect to make things happen. Donnie Avery looked like he might become it; Mark Clayton and Brandon Lloyd did it as rentals; and Danario Alexander does it two or three times a season. But if Brian Quick or Chris Givens can give Rams fans even the promise of future above-averageness, they'll react loudly and often, because it's been a while.
And if they can't do that-well, Austin Pettis and Greg Salas, jobs on the line, will be able to tell them all about that scenario.