Many Rams fans had their heart set on wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Many were willing to settle for the second-rated WR on the board, Michael Floyd.
When the Rams drafted neither, many fans freaked out. Perhaps this was all too familiar to the ways of one Billy Devaney. Well this is a different regime.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead really wanted running back Trent Richardson, but they weren’t willing to spend extra picks to get him. They liked Blackmon, but not enough to sacrifice a pick to assure themselves Blackmon.
They achieved their goal of trading down to add a second-round pick, but they moved out of Floyd’s range in the process. They added LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers — a player they clearly coveted — and set themselves up for a very busy day today.
But scores of long-suffering Rams fans failed to see the wisdom in this. But guess what…this is a deep wide receiver draft and it’s not time to panic.
Interestingly, NFL experts had a generally more favorable view of this: Here is a sampling.
Mike Sando, ESPN.com: “Defensive tackle was a position of critical need for the Rams. Brockers projects as an instant starter with the versatility to play more than one position on the line. The Rams added a second-round choice for moving back from sixth to 14th overall. That was more than other teams trading back secured. Yes, the Rams still need a No. 1 receiver, but one school of thought says this draft didn’t feature a sure-fire one. No one can accuse the Rams of reaching. They got bigger and stronger on their defensive line. Having three second-round picks puts them in position to help the offense Friday.”
Wes Bunting, National Football Post: “The Rams needed to upgrade their level of talent at the DT position and Brockers has what it takes to mature into one of the league’s best. He’s a former 4-start, 255-pound SLB prospect out of high school who has since gained over 70-pounds and developed into one of the SEC’s top linemen. He needs to mature as a pass rusher, but he has the skill set to do so and should be able to anchor the run at a high level early on.”
Don Banks, SI.com: “Boy do the Rams now occupy the catbird seat going into Friday night’s second round. St. Louis owns the No. 33 selection, the first pick of the round, which is always coveted by teams that didn’t get the player it wanted in the first round and are entertaining a trade back up to land that spot. In addition, St. Louis has the No. 39, a pick acquired in the Redskins trade, and No. 45, which the Cowboys sent them for the right to move up eight spots to sixth. So far, this rebuilding program in St. Louis is unfolding at warp speed in the Jeff Fisher coaching era. The second round could be a bonanza for the Rams, perhaps setting them up with at least three new starters.”
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com, giving the Rams a “B” grade: “They trade down and add picks and end up with a top-level tackle. Yes, he’s raw. But he is perfect for Jeff Fisher’s teams.”
Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports: “Given that Fisher and Snead went into Thursday’s first round high on the potential of numerous players they felt were likely to be available in the first half of the second round – and with clear needs at, among other positions, receiver, running back, linebacker and cornerback – picking up an additional second-round selection was a clear goal. Yet the Rams would have been far less motivated to trade that sixth overall pick had Richardson or Blackmon been available. Despite the presence of three-time Pro Bowl halfback Steven Jackson on the roster, Fisher and Snead viewed Richardson as a potential star with rare talent and would have celebrated had he slipped to six.”
John Clayton, ESPN.com: “Trading out of the top six is usually a bad idea. But when you have as many holes as the Rams, you have to consider it, particularly when the Jaguars traded ahead of them and took wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Of the eight trades, the Rams were the only team to get a second-round pick, and they got it from the Dallas Cowboys. They now have three second-round choices for Friday, and two first-rounders each in 2013 and 2014, thanks to the pre-draft trade with Washington. The Rams filled a key defensive need by getting defensive tackle Michael Brockers. In a deep receiver draft, the Rams now can concentrate on getting wide receiver help. If they don’t use some of those extra seconds on receivers Friday, they will be placed among the losers in Friday’s column.”
Nate Davis, USAToday.com: “After trading down twice . . . St. Louis beefs up its defensive interior with the raw but hugely promising Brockers. At 6-6, 322 pounds, Brockers is a formidable presence who should disrupt the pocket and/or draw double teams away from pass rushing DEs Chris Long and Robert Quinn. The Rams now have three choices in the second round and perhaps that’s when they’ll start enlisting offensive support for QB Sam Bradford and RB Steven Jackson.”
John Czarnecki, FoxSports.com: “Michael Brockers is the best run-stuffing defensive tackle in the draft and would have been a top 10 pick next season at he stayed at LSU. He’s basically a third-year sophomore. Brockers is a solid young man (6-5, 320 pounds) with a bright future if he remains grounded. He was an extremely hard worker for the Tigers and never disappeared in the big games. With three quality defensive ends, led by Chris Long, the Rams needed a defensive tackle to hold down the middle. When everybody thought the Rams were going to end up with Justin Blackmon in order to help Sam Bradford, Brockers may be disappointing to the fans but it makes sense to coach Jeff Fisher. The Rams need so much talent and they are stockpiling picks, adding the Cowboys 45th pick. This draft is extremely deep between Nos. 20 to Nos. 55 and the Rams will be making three more selections in that range, so they should be getting some quality talent tomorrow.”
Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly: “Jeff Fisher recognized that he needed two defensive tackles upon his arrival and signed Kendall Langford to fill one post. Brockers gives the Rams another stout inside presence to stuff the run and force offenses to beat the Rams on the perimeter. Although young and still developing as one of the draft’s youngest players, Brockers has a huge upside.“