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Draft King Analysis
April 23, 2012
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

Reader feedback is always welcomed here on Draft King. Sound off with your thoughts on Twitter (@LouPickney) or via email at LouPickney@gmail.com.

The 2012 NFL Draft is less than 72 hours from starting in New York City. This might be a good time to open the Draft King mailbag.

From: Clint Butts
To: LouPickney@gmail.com
Date: Mon, Apr 16, 2012 at 1:23 PM
Subject: Tampa Bay #5 pick

Site is amazing like I have come to expect. As a Bucs fan I know I should be excited about the opportunity for the team to pick up such a tremendous athlete like Morris Claiborne in the 5 slot, but living in Indiana I am use to watching the Colts draft smart players that aren't always as gifted physically. With Tampa being in the same division as Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, both could be described as highly intelligent quarterbacks, shouldn't this be a concern about drafting a player with such low outlier on the wonderlic? Is this a selection by default? He is the top corner and the best available player based upon almost everyone's ratings.

Lou: Claiborne's leaked Wonderlic score is part of the dirty pool that has sadly become a tradition at this time of the year. I'm not concerned at all with how he did on that standardized test, which he reportedly had trouble with due to a learning disability. Claiborne proved himself in the school of hard knocks: the SEC. He's the top cover corner prospect in the draft -- I like Janoris Jenkins better on the field, but as I wrote yesterday on here, Jenkins has tremendous baggage off the field that will likely keep him out of the first round of the upcoming draft.

If Claiborne goes up off the board before Tampa Bay's #5 overall pick comes up, I would anticipate the Bucs selecting Alabama RB Trent Richardson. Though, with their need at corner and value of elite man-to-man cover corners being at an all-time high in the NFL, the Bucs will likely be holding their breath on Thursday night hoping that Claiborne stays on the board until they have a shot to draft him.

@Seahawk_Talk 4/22/2012, 2:51 p.m.
@LouPickney Carroll's job is not in any danger at all.

@weekendscott 4/23/2012, 8:14 p.m.
@LouPickney Pete Carroll on the hot seat? Huh wha? #mostinsanetweetoftheday

Lou: My thought process was as follows: the Seahawks didn't sign Carroll to a five-year, $33 million deal to post three straight losing seasons out of the chute. Yes, Seattle won a playoff game in the 2010 season after they made the playoffs in a fluke situation with a losing record, but if the Seahawks go 5-11 or 6-10 this year... then what?

Typically, when a passionate fan of a particular team contacts me with a dissenting point of view on something I've written or said, he or she usually ends up having a valid point. So, with that in mind, I asked my good friend Scott who lives in Seattle for his opinion on the situation. His response:

"he is NOT EVEN CLOSE to the hot seat now... folks here are pretty amazed at how drastically he's madeover the roster & i think most fans know that kind of heavy lifting can produce serious dividends.. but THESE THINGS TAKE TIME... i think people know how much better this roster is, and they're in a spot for the draft where they're picking best pass rusher (coples) or player available"

That settles it for me -- it appears my perception about Carroll being on the hot seat was inaccurate.

Brandon Gibson
Rams WR Brandon Gibson started in nine games in 2011. (US PRESSWIRE)

@TheRamsFan 4/23/2012, 5:21 a.m.
@LouPickney Not exactly compelling evidence as to why the Rams wouldn't pick Cox. Still a great need at dt. Cox a better prospect than JB.

It's difficult to say with any level of certainty exactly what the Rams will do. If my explanation for why WR over DT makes sense to me seemed flimsy, that's in part because there isn't much definitive evidence to go on with a new administration in place in St. Louis and the Rams keeping their draft plans very close to the vest. Jeff Fisher coached for many years in my hometown of Nashville, but I don't exactly have a direct line to him.

But I look at it like this: last year's leading receiver for the Rams, Brandon Lloyd, left in free agency for New England. Danny Amendola returns from a 2011 season where he made only one catch for five yards before suffering a torn triceps in his left arm. He is expected to be back at 100% for 2012 and fill a slot receiver role with the team, provided that he signs his restricted free agent tender extended to him by St. Louis. The Rams signed former Giants and Eagles WR Steve Smith (born 1985, not to be confused with Carolina WR Steve Smith who was born in 1979), but he is coming off a 2011 season where he made just 11 receptions for 124 yards and one touchdown.

Other receivers returning to the Rams from 2011 include Brandon Gibson (36 receptions for 431 yards and one TD) and Greg Salas, who made 27 catches for 264 yards and zero TDs before fracturing the fibula in his left leg this past November.

In short, the Rams lack a top-tier wide receiver. And with the passing game being more important than ever before in the NFL, it's imperative that St. Louis lands an elite wide receiver in the upcoming draft. They very likely will have their choice from the entire wide receiver crop should they go in that direction, so even if the Rams aren't bullish on Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon, perhaps they will instead be inclined to draft Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd.

Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox is a strong prospect with great pass-rushing skills as an interior 4-3 defensive lineman, but the need at wide receiver is considerable for St. Louis. Had the Rams been major players in free agency going after a top free agent wide receiver, I might have been inclined to think they wouldn't go for a wideout at #6. But instead the Rams, as I mentioned yesterday, forked over $12 million guaranteed to Miami DL Kendall Langford with the intent of having him play 4-3 DT.

Does that entirely eliminate the possibility that the Rams would draft Cox at #6? No. But there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that the Rams will take a wide receiver at the six spot, perhaps the same player they would have selected at #2 had they not traded that pick to the Redskins.

Maybe I'm right on this or maybe I'm not, but we'll all find out either way on Thursday night.

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