(FootballStL) -- In their second year of rebuilding under the Les Snead-Jeff Fisher regime, the St. Louis Rams enter the 2013 NFL Draft with eight selections, including two picks in the first round.
That’s the only thing certain for the Rams in this year’s draft.
Things are different than in previous years. For starters, the Rams don’t have a top-five pick and the overall draft class is widely considered weak, especially compared to last year. A weaker draft class can cause early surprises from the start.
The Rams’ first selection this year is No. 16 overall. While most believe St. Louis would like to select Tavon Austin, the top wide receiver in the draft, it isn’t a guarantee that he will still be on the board at No. 16, and the Rams may not use a first round pick on a wide receiver.
“Receivers, historically, to me, it’s the toughest transition from college football to the NFL,” Snead, who is in his second draft as general manager of the Rams, said. “I think it’s a sexy position, but I can say that a lot of good receivers have come in the second and third tier and fourth tiers of the draft. As Jeff has said, he’s looked at receivers. I really haven’t.”
Fisher quickly replied, “that’s because the corners are covering them.”
For Snead, there are a lot of variables to consider when drafting a wide receiver.
“I think receivers, typically in college a lot of corners are scared of them so they don’t get a lot of tight coverage,” Snead said. “People back off, let him catch the ball, probably doesn’t have to be as detailed in his routes, and offenses are changing. They’re not running traditional NFL routes, which not saying that’s good or bad because those guys are successful down there. It’s a timing thing with your quarterback here.”
The wide receiver position hasn’t been a focal point in the first round for the Rams, a team that has drafted only eight wide receivers in the first round in team history. The last coming when the Rams selected Torry Holt sixth overall in the 1999 draft.
With the departures of Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, it’s inevitable that the Rams will go with a wide receiver at some point in this draft. It’s only a matter of when.
“It’s a good class. There’s going to be receivers that can help you throughout the draft,” Fisher added.
When asked if the team is willing to trade up to draft a highly-touted player, Fisher responded, “possibly.”
Snead added, “How many phone lines do we have in there? We have three or four or five. We’ll definitely take calls. We’ll have fun.”
So could a small wide receiver, like Austin, who stands 5-foot-8, be of use for the Rams this draft?
“I think they have a chance to play if you have a tall quarterback because he can find him,” Fisher said. “If you have a shorter-style quarterback it’s tough to find a shorter receiver.”
Sam Bradford stands at 6-foot-4. It’s only a matter of days until we find out if the Rams are hungry enough to go after him. ESPN draft guru Todd McShay sees the Jets using the 13th overall pick to nab Austin.
On an interesting (and irrelevant) note, there hasn’t been a wide receiver taken 16th overall in the last ten years. But there have been three wide receivers taken 22nd overall, St. Louis’ other first round pick this year, in the last ten years, including Demaryius Thomas, Percy Harvin and Mark Clayton.
The so-called experts have the Rams selecting Chance Warmack, an offensive guard out of Alabama, with the 16th overall pick and DeAndre Hopkins, a wide receiver from Clemson, with the 22nd overall pick, which came in last year’s trade with the Washington Redskins. Additional players to watch will be safeties Eric Reid, from LSU, and Kenny Vaccaro, from Texas.
With this draft class, anything can happen.