Coming off of a seven win season where the Rams found themselves one win from the NFC West title and a playoff berth a major question lingered heading into the offseason. Where are the weapons for franchise QB Sam Bradford?
This question seemed to overshadow the glaring needs for a backup to Steven Jackson and plugging up the Rams porous run defense. The Rams first attempt to arm their new QB started in 2011 by bringing in Mardy Gilyard, Danario Alexander and Mark Clayton. Well between the three of them they only caught 49 passes last year. So many of their games last season shined the spotlight on the glaring need for a playmaker at WR.
Though DX put on a good show in limited action for the Rams in 2010 the Rams, understandably, decided to bring in more help. New to the roster (for now) are Austin Pettis, Greg Salas and Mike Sims-Walker and back (again for now) is Donnie Avery. Add them into the mix with Amendola, Alexander, Gilyard, Gibson, Curry and rookie Greg Matthews and according to my math that gives the Rams ten WR’s on the Roster.
Though Clayton and Bradford connected early, out of the three Danario showed the most big play potential. He lead the team with 15.3 yards per reception and had caught the longest pass of the season by a WR for 46 yards. Despite playing in only eight games the DX Missile finished 4th amongst Rams WR’s & TE’s in YAC with 120 yards and 5th in Targets. So while it may have been Clayton early on Alexander and Bradford clearly developed their own chemistry as the season went along.
The consensus for now is the Rams are likely to keep seven WR’s. Three games into the preseason and Amendola appears to be the only lock. After that it gets dicey. Sims-Walker looks to be safe as does Avery, assuming health. From there the final four will most likely come from a group including Alexander, Gilyard, Salas, Pettis and Gibson.
Amongst that entire group Alexander has intangibles that you cannot teach, that you either have or you don’t. At 6-5 and 215lbs he is the biggest WR on the roster, a huge bonus in the red zone. Perhaps more importantly he has big play potential. He can stretch the field which is something that cannot be said for the others in contention excluding Avery.
There are health concerns, you cannot ignore them. That being said I believe the reward outweighs the risk when it comes to Danario. The Ram do not have the luxury of keeping a WR on the roster simply because of where he was drafted. The Rams need to be better and deeper at every position, talent must win out.
Danario Alexander has the talent and will be a strong weapon for the Rams. Look for him to make the team…and some noise in 2011.