This year's crop of receivers, according to touts and scouts, is broken into three groups: "AJ Green and Julio Jones"; a second tier of potentially exciting players that includes Maryland's Torrey Smith, Pittsburgh's Jonathan Baldwin and Miami's Leonard Hankerson; and everyone else.
These three tiers not only passes the eyeball test, but it also makes sense from a historical perspective. We just completed an analysis of the last 30 years of wide receivers in the draft, weighing the level of impact as compared to the order each player was taken. And the "boom/bust" risk breaks very neatly between the first two receivers taken and the next group.
After his brilliant Combine performance, there's a good chance that Julio Jones is now unreachable for the Rams. And while signing free agents — even their own, like Mark Clayton — is on hold, the Rams are doing their due diligence by working out other options at the WR position, like Torrey Smith.
The open question, though, is whether their chance of finding a true "impact" player from this second tier is good enough for them to make the pick?
Click through to see the full analysis and a monster infographic, after the jump.
All these players were picked in the first two rounds of their respective drafts. And as you can see, the chances of drafting a bust remain pretty constant (roughly 40%) throughout. But the chances of getting that "impact" player drops significantly after the first two WRs are off the board.
In fact, those chances drop almost in half. From a 1-in-3 chance of landing a game changer, the next tier offers only a 1-in-5 chance. Of course, there are exceptions, such as Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison, and players such as Isaac Bruce, Roddy White and DeSean Jackson that were drafted 5th or later among their WR cohort. But those exceptions are rare — only one every few years or so.
What you're left with instead is lowered expectations and much more average performance across the board. And given the young and still untapped talent already on the roster, several scouts aren't convinced that wide receiver is a "must-draft" position for the Rams.
So what would you do if you're Billy Devaney and both Green and Jones are gone, you have your best available player in hand with pick #14 (perhaps Aldon Smith, perhaps Robert Quinn?), and you enter the second round with three or four receivers already off the board?
It's a tough question.