It is pretty clear to any St. Louis fan that Julio Jones, or any top receiver, is not the ticket to the 2011 Super Bowl. The team still has many needs on both sides on the ball, and some of the key players are still young and need to be completely developed (Sam Bradford, Rodger Saffold, Jason Smith, Bradley Fletcher).
So the Rams are not Super Bowl bound with, or without a top receiver. However, the team could literally be one receiver away from winning the NFC West.
If you watched the Rams’ devastating season finale loss to the Seattle Seahawks, then you know the team was one wide receiver away from winning the division in 2010. They passed for only 155 total yards during that game, the longest offensive play of the game was a 20 yard reception by running back Steven Jackson, and the team was kept out of the end-zone the entire game.
The receivers were physically stopped from running by the secondary, and the few receivers that did make it through the secondary were completely smothered by the Seattle defensive backs.
Unfortunately for the Rams, free-agency is not lurking on the horizon, thanks to the lack of a CBA; and barring any miracles, the team has virtually no chance of landing A.J. Green or Julio Jones, who are widely considered the top receivers of the draft.
However, Jones is expected to come near the Rams’ reaching distance. He will probably slip out of the top five, but he won’t make it past the Washingon Redskins (No. 10 overall). Given the Rams’ desperate need for a receiver, this situation forces the tempting question- Would it be worth it to trade up for Julio Jones?
The clear answer has to be ‘Yes’. Trade up to No. 9 overall with the Dallas Cowboys, assuming it does not cost more than a 3rd round pick (rumors indicate that Dallas wants to trade down). And here is why…
We’ve all heard about how “deep” the 2011 draft is. But we hear that every year, about every draft. Do you know why this draft is being sold to us as “deep”? Because it is the current draft. It is the only football event going on in the spring, and the NFL wants to sell the draft to us fans as a product. The truth is that the Rams are not more likely to find a 3rd round starter in this year’s draft than any other draft.
Sure, we hear about the possibilities of John Moffitt, Allen Bailey, Davon House and Quinton Carter in the 3rd round, and it’s exciting to picture one of those guys wearing the horns. But in reality, the popularity of most 3rd round players peaks on draft day, and it turns into the highlight of their career.
The Rams cleaned up the front office, and did away with poor drafting, but even current General Manager Billy Devaney has not been a star drafter in the 3rd round. Devaney has been involved in three of the Rams’ drafts (2008-2010), and has managed to find only John Greco, Bradley Fletcher and Jerome Murphy in the 3rd round, with Fletcher being the only starter.
So given the situation the Rams are in this year, and considering that they could literally be one receiver away from a division championship, it is in this writer’s opinion that ‘quality’ is slightly more valuable than ‘quantity’. If a 3rd round pick is all that it costs to bring in Jones, then they need to jump on it.
After all, is the 3rd round really going to produce a player that the Rams can’t replace via a mid-level free-agent signing once a new CBA is done? Probably not.