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NFL Arizona Cardinals

The Best Player Available

Assuming that the Rams do not trade up for Julio Jones (which they should seriously consider doing), it is likely that they will settle for the highest ranking player on their draft board (that is not a quarterback or offensive tackle).

We’ve all heard about the scenarios involving Corey Liuget, Aldon Smith, or even Ryan Kerrigan and Cam Jordan. In fact, Rams Nation is collectively assuming that the team will certainly be selecting a defensive lineman at No. 14 overall.

But what some of us are not considering is the fact that some high ranking players shockingly slip out of the top 10 every single year. We saw quarterback Jimmy Clausen take a nose dive last year, and we saw the same happen to Brian Orakpo and Michael Crabtree in 2009 (although Crabtree was still selected No. 10 overall).

So who are some guys that might slip this year, making them the best player available for the Rams?

Nebraska's Prince Amukamara will likely be a top 10 pick, but there's a chance he could slip to the Rams at No. 14.

Prince Amukamara CB Nebraska: LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson is considered the best overall player in this year’s draft class, and Amukamara is just a hair behind him. He is a pure cover corner, and his abilities will give the defensive line more time to get to the quarterback. And although it’s very unlikely that an elite prospect such as Amukamara will make it to No. 14, it’s certainly a possibility.

The Rams don’t have an immediate need for a cornerback, but they will find a way to make room in this scenario. They would likely move Ron Bartell to free-safety (he has experience at safety from early on in his career), which would fill the void left by O.J. Atogwe; and that would leave Amukamara and Bradley Fletcher as the starting cornerbacks. Having all three of those guys in the secondary would not be too shabby.

Robert Quinn DE North Carolina: Quinn should probably be the top defensive end on every team’s draft board. That fact makes it extremely unlikely that he will be available for St. Louis, but given the fact he didn’t even play in 2010 makes it possible.

Quinn was among the handful of Tarheels that were suspended by the NCAA in 2010. But at 6’4″ and 265 pounds, he is a ferocious pass rusher with great speed. With Chris Long and Robert Quinn, the Rams could be in possession of possibly the best defensive end duo in the league by 2012.

He is considered a likely top 10 pick, even without playing in 2010. Had he played in 2010, then he would likely be a lock for the top five. If he is available when the Rams are on the clock, then he has to be the pick.

Auburn's Nick Fairley was a potential candidate for the No. 1 overall draft pick, but his questionable character hurt his draft stock.

Nick Fairley DT Auburn: General Manager Billy Devaney does not enjoy taking risks on players with character concerns, so it would really be a reach to expect him to invest the No. 14 overall pick on Nick Fairley.

However, despite club policy, the team should really consider making an exception if Fairley slips to them. He fits their defense, and he is a dominating pass rusher up the middle, which is a necessity in a Steve Spagnuolo defense.

A few months ago, Fairley was considered a serious candidate for the No. 1 overall selection. So if the Rams make this pick, they are probably getting the best tackle in the entire draft (yes, even better than Marcel Dareus). And there are plenty of high character players on the team already, so that would put Fairley in a constructive environment that could help him get over his character issues.

Others: If the draft goes as expected, with no major surprises, then the top rated available player on the Rams draft board will likely be one of the following- Corey Liuget DT Illionois, Aldon Smith DE Missouri, Ryan Kerrigan DR Purdue, Cam Jordan DE California, J.J. Watt DE Wisconsin, Mike Pouncey OG Florida

-Steven Gerwel