NFL St Louis Rams

St. Louis Rams: 2012 Draft Class Members Ready to Become Elite in 2013

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St. Louis Rams 2012 Draft Class Members Ready to be Elite in 2013

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 draft class is one that will be remembered for quite some time with the St. Louis Rams. The team’s current top wide receiver, top cornerback, top defensive tackle, first and second string running backs, and kicker as well as punter all arrived last season. This group has clearly already proven itself to an extent at the NFL level, but which players are primed to take that next step into the elite category in 2013?

Certainly valid arguments could be made for any of these guys given their achievements and first impressions from year one. Every one of these guys are slated to be starters for a reason in 2013; they contributed at least in some manner during their rookie seasons, and some actually offered borderline Pro Bowl performances right out of the gate.

Some of these positions offer easier transitions than others coming out of college while others are very difficult to learn the nuances of the pro game. Obviously most of these guys had little to no trouble doing that last season, but it could take a while for them to actually get to an elite level of play.

None of these rookies were named to the Pro Bowl last season, but it generally takes quite a rare performance for a first-year player to earn that type of honor. These guys will all be asked to take on expanded roles in their second seasons in the league as each of them will have some serious work to do as established veterans in 2013.

It’s going to be a different feeling in year two for every player in the coming slides with new expectations on their shoulders. Let’s see which guys are ready to take that next step into elite-hood in the coming season.

Anthony Blake is a Senior Writer/Copy Editor for Rant Sports. You Can Follow Him on Twitter, on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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Daryl Richardson -- Isaiah Pead, Running Backs

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

At running back, the competition is going to be fierce between a trio of backs with Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardson, and 2013 draftee Zac Stacy. Regardless of who eventually (if anyone) garners the lion’s share of carries, the Rams figure to have a timeshare in their backfield this season so neither of these two look ready to attain elite status just yet.

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Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle

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Michael Brockers was dominant in stretches last season, but he never really seemed to sustain that level of play for weeks at a time. This year will certainly see an improvement from the interior defender given the fact that both of the ends playing outside of him (Chris Long and Robert Quinn) will be wreaking havoc all season long. Still, becoming an elite defensive tackle might be a year away for the former first round pick.

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Chris Givens, Wide Receiver

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

It may not have come with much fanfare, but Chris Givens put up some serious numbers as a rookie. His remarkable streak of five straight games with a catch of 50 yards or longer was breathtaking for fans as he continually beat defenses deep week after week. Things might not be so easy for Givens this season with Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson both gone, and he will have to find a way to offer more than just a deep threat in 2013.

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Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback

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Obviously this guy made a serious impact as a rookie. Janoris Jenkins had four interceptions in his rookie campaign and scored three defensive touchdowns. Those types of numbers aren’t going to happen every year, but it’s clear this kid has a nose for the football. He could easily find himself making big plays on the regular this year which may lead to Pro Bowl consideration in his just his second NFL season.

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Johnny Hekker, Punter -- Greg Zuerlein, Kicker

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If you didn’t see the amazing trick kick video these two teamed up with Dude Perfect on, you must check it out here. In addition to these stunt kicks, however, these two were flat-out impressive from day one. Both guys immediately claimed the starting gigs at punter and kicker and there was never doubt as to why as the year progressed. Johnny Hekker can boom it and Legatron a.k.a. Greg Zuerlein has range that most kickers only dream of. It isn’t outrageous to think that both of these guys could find themselves on the 2013 Pro Bowl roster.

Anthony Blake is a Senior Writer/Copy Editor for Rant Sports. You Can Follow Him on Twitter, on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.