Selecting wide receivers early on in the NFL Draft is far from an exact science. While players with the last name Johnson have done alright (Keyshawn Johnson 1st overall in 1996, Andre Johnson 3rd overall in 2003, Calvin Johnson 2nd overall in 2007), there are plenty with different names who haven’t fared so well (Peter Warrick 4th overall in 2000, Charles Rogers 2nd overall in 2003, Troy Williamson 7th overall in 2005). Even though today’s league is trending toward an all out aerial assault more often than not, taking a wideout early in the draft is still a risky proposition.
For the St. Louis Rams, this year will be a true test for the team as it prepares to make a push for the playoffs on the heels of a successful reclamation effort by new Head Coach Jeff Fisher. Doing that will likely entail adding some new weapons for signal caller Sam Bradford who hasn’t been very well supplied during his three seasons so far with the team.
While that doesn’t necessarily mean that the team will address the receiver spot in the opening round, they do hold two first rounders and could easily afford to spend one on an offensive weapon. Combine that with the fact that of their top three receivers in 2012, two of them are impending free agents and the other will be entering his second year. The numbers may not have been all that impressive with Chris Givens going for 698 yards, Brandon Gibson for 691, and Danny Amendola 666, losing both Gibson and Amendola would severely impact this offense.
The addition of Titus Young could just as easily be a complete whiff as it could be a home run so there is no reason to think that this team is set at receiver. Brian Quick will have some serious expectations heading into his second season, but there are no guarantees that his production will increase either.
As a solution, the Rams may opt to take a wideout in the first round this year which could mean the team goes offense with its top two picks in April. Most expect offensive line to be one of those selections and if Alabama Crimson Tide guard Chance Warmack is available as expected at 16 overall, there is no possible way he isn’t the pick. At number 22 overall however, if a value like Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee were to present itself, the club would be hard-pressed to pass it up. Patterson is the consensus number two receiver prospect, but is not far behind the lead dog in Keenan Allen of California. The two have very similar skill sets and have the potential to be number one receivers with terrific hands and the ability to stretch the field vertically as well.
It may not be the ideal offseason for the Rams, but if Amendola and Gibson both get offers they can’t refuse elsewhere, it may be their reality come April. Even though the track record for taking receivers has been a real hit or miss proposition, the Rams have to take a gamble this year and find an impact player for their offense in 2013.