The Protection Or The Playmaker

This week’s great debate, chicken and egg style. Which comes first, the protection or the playmaker? Does a great OT make the QB and WR combo or does the Play-maker at WR make the QB and tackle look better. It’s an age old question. And with USC OT Matt Kalil declaring for the draft an important one for the St. Louis Rams.

The Rams have their QB of the future. Whether you agree with this or not is beside the point. Sam is here to stay.  Stan Kroenke and the Rams are not going to eat his contract just two years into his career. Nor should they.

But Bradford needs help. Lots of help. The Rams’ goal heading into the offseason ought to be to accumulate as many picks as they can. If they can trade out of the top three picks, still end up with a game-breaking receiver (Justin Blackmon) and pick up more elite talent, they have to do it. And if it means conning folks to do it, do it. Please.

The top of the 2012 draft is full of intriguing talent that could immediately help the Rams: big offensive tackles who can block out the sun (Matt Kalil, Jonathan Martin, Riley Reiff); a receiver who can be a big-play threat for this offense (Blackmon); a couple of lockdown cornerbacks, too (Morris Claiborne, Dre’ Kirkpatrick).

So as the season winds to its close it looks to be a lock the Rams will be picking in the top 3.  So the discussion comes down to two players.

Matt Kalil or Justin Blackmon…Who do you want? Who do the Rams need more? Yes the Minnesota Vikings could mess it all up and take away the choice entirely by picking Kalil themselves. But assuming the choice is there which direction will the Rams decide to go.

The Protection

Matt Kalil is seen as one of the best LT prospects since Jake Long, though most do not grade him quite that high that is still quite a statement. He looks to have all the qualities of a franchise LT, something the Rams desperately need if they ever want to receive full value of the Sam Bradford pick. And it is time to call Jason Smith a bust, it’s true, then there is the possibility he may never play again given his recent concussion history and Rodger Saffold took a big step backwards this season, but still has a good enough skill set to start. Should the Rams decide to go with Kalil a move over to the right side for Saffold should not be that difficult.

Of course investing another $20 million plus into what is already the most expensive offensive line in the NFL is a deterrent for some. To alleviate the stress here an option could be to move Harvey Dahl over to RT where he has been playing, keep Saffold on the left side and try Jason Smith out at guard where his foot work won’t be as exposed.

The Playmaker

justin-blackmonHad Justin Blackmon come out of Oklahoma State in 2011 he would have been a first rounder last year, and most likely gone to the Rams with 14th pick. By deciding to stay at school for another year he put himself in position to go in the first five picks of the 2012 draft.

Said by some to be a better prospect coming out of college than Dez Bryant he has been uber productive and even dominant in college. Before the upcoming Fiesta Bowl Blackmon already has 113 catches, 1336 yards, and 15 TDs. His production cannot be questioned, but what will be is; is he the product of a pass happy Big 12 and the spread system at OSU or is he a legit top 3 prospect. I defer to Dez Bryant’s transition to answer this question.

Whichever direction the Rams go they will be filling a big need and making the team better. And neither pick is the wrong one. But for a team that needs to win, and win now deciding which player will get them there sooner makes all the difference.