Craig's Corner: Rams Need To Make Draft Difference - The Missourian: Opinion

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Craig's Corner: Rams Need To Make Draft Difference

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Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 10:00 am | Updated: 1:07 pm, Wed Apr 25, 2012.

Another NFL Draft, another top 10 pick for the St. Louis Rams.

The draft begins Thursday night and runs through Saturday.

Remember the Rams traded the No. 2 overall pick to Washington for the Redskins’ first-round pick this year (No. 6 overall), their second-round pick this year plus their first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.

Not a bad deal for the Rams, who need help at many positions. The extra picks in the future will certainly help.

The trade ensures that the Redskins can select Baylor quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.

Even after the trade, the Rams still sit in a good position with the No. 6 pick.

Most draft experts say there are six players in this year’s draft who are clearly the cream of the crop.

So really, the Rams should have an easy choice in the first round. The final “top six” player still on the board will fall right into their lap.

But who will that be?

The top two overall picks are pretty much set in stone.

Indianapolis already has announced it will select Stanford quarterback Robert Luck with the first pick.

Washington will then go with Griffin III.

The four remaining players who figure go next are Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, Alabama running back Trent Richardson and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne.

All four of those players would look great in a Rams uniform. Let’s face it, the Rams need the most help on the offensive side of the ball.

Things start to get interesting when Minnesota is up with the No. 3 pick. My guess is the Vikings will go with Kalil. They need someone to protect their young quarterback, Christian Ponder.

With the fourth pick, all signs point to Cleveland going with Richardson. The Browns need a running back after Peyton Hillis signed with Kansas City.

That leaves Claiborne and Blackmon to Tampa Bay and St. Louis.

The Bucs did sign all-world San Diego free agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson over the offseason, which gives them a legitimate No. 1 target for quarterback Josh Freeman. For that reason, I think the Bucs will go defense and select Claiborne.

That leaves the Rams with Blackmon, which works out great for the organization.

Had the Rams not made the trade with Washington and kept the No. 2 pick, there’s a good chance they would have selected Blackmon.

So the Rams would get the extra draft picks and still the player they wanted all along.

As we all know, the Rams haven’t had a big-play wide receiver since the “Greatest Show on Turf” days. Blackmon would finally give them a legitimate downfield threat. Sam Bradford needs help and Blackmon could be that guy.

Of course, there always could be a trade where another team jumps up to the top six, but that’s the way I see the beginning of the draft taking shape.

The Rams and Colts tied for the worst record in the NFL last season at 2-14.

The Colts got the first pick due to worse opponents won-loss record.

Interestingly, the Colts receive the first pick in rounds one, three, five and seven. The Rams have the first pick in rounds two, four and six.

I’m anxious to see how Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead handle the draft.

What happens after the first round will go a long way in determining if this team is able to turn things around in the near future.

If somehow the Rams don’t get Blackmon in the first round, they need to target a wide receiver in the second or third round.

Many experts say this year is a deep draft for wide receivers.

Other top needs on the offensive side of the ball are a tackle and maybe a running back to come in and learn from Steven Jackson for a couple of seasons.

Jason Smith, who figures to start at right tackle, has struggled with injuries and has been inconsistent with his performance.

Defensively, the Rams need help at tackle, outside linebacker and cornerback.

Chris Long and Robert Quinn both are solid defensive ends. Someone to go in the middle would be nice.

Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis needs help on the outside.

Cornerback Ron Bartell was released and has since signed with Oakland. Bradley Fletcher has struggled with injuries.

The next few days are extremely crucial for the Rams.

There have been some nice picks in the recent past, such as Bradford, Long and Laurinaitis.

But there have been so many busts, including Adam Carriker, Tye Hill, Alex Barron, Eric Crouch and Trung Canidate, just to name a few.

Fisher and the Rams need to get this year’s draft right. The future depends on it.

/opinion