Monday, October 11, 2010

What happens now at wide-receiver?

The Rams' top receiver, Mark Clayton, was removed from the game on Sunday against the Lions after obtaining a knee injury. The injury will be season-ending, and the specific injury was a torn patella tendon. Before entering the game Sunday, Clayton was on pace for a 1200 yard season; which would've made him the Rams' first 1000 yard receiver since Torry Holt in 2007.

Obviously, the Rams now have a major void to fill at wide-receiver. General Manager Billy Devaney is not known for blockbuster moves (to say the least), so that leaves the Rams' options very limited. The Rams' immediate response to Clayton's injury was moving Denario Alexander from the practice squad, to the 53-man roster. Alexander is a rookie out of Mizzou, and he led the NCAA in receiving yards in 2009, with 1781 yards. Alexander was widely expected to receive a draft grade anywhere between the first round, to the third round. A recent knee surgery (which is just one of several knee surgeries in Alexander's career), and failed physicals, turned the NCAA's top receiver into an undrafted free-agent. Alexander ran a 4.4 40-yard dash, and has the size that the Rams' are craving, at 6'5" and 215 lbs.

However, since an undrafted rookie, with major knee issues, seems like the exact opposite of a practical solution, here are some other options that have been rumored:

WR Lee Evans- Buffalo Bills  - Lee Evans seems like the best option. Since the Buffalo Bills are the new "Rams" of the NFL, it is believable that Evans might want out of Buffalo. Evans is very similar to Mark Clayton is size, and style of play. Evans is only 5'10" and 197 lbs., but he has been very productive throughout his seven year career. Evans has 40 touchdowns since his rookie year in 2004, and he has two 1000 yard seasons. He is 29 years old, and Evans should have plenty to offer the St. Louis Rams. If the price is right, Billy Devaney, and the Rams, should seriously pursue Evans.

WR Steve Smith- Carolina Panthers - At one time, Smith was one of the most dominant receivers in the league. Smith is a four time pro-bowler, has five 1000 yard seasons in his career, and 52 touchdowns. Smith is another small receiver at 5'9" and 185 lbs., but his size has never stopped him throughout his career. Due to injuries, Smith has been slowed down the past couple of seasons; in 2008 he received a concussion, and in 2009 he received a broken forearm. Smith seems to be healthy again; he has 174 yards and 2 touchdowns this season, despite a very flat Panther's offense. The downside to Smith (besides his age, and potential cost) is his attitude. Though Smith's antics aren't nearly as publicized as T.O.'s, he has been known to cause problems; one example is the training camp fight between him and Ken Lucas in 2008.

If I were Billy Devaney, I would not be too thrilled with my options. Both Evans and Smith are worth having, but neither are long term solutions. It would be hard to justify giving up top draft picks for receivers that are 1) Not elite talents, and 2) old. Of course, there is always the OBVIOUS option. You know, that 6'5" pro-bowl receiver... the one that is only 27 years old, the one sitting at home right now, waiting for a team to make a trade with San Diego. Of course I'm talking about Vincent Jackson. But why make that trade? I guess it makes too much sense. It is such an obvious option that Billy Devaney must be suspicious about a hidden catch involved. But it's OK Devaney; just keep on signing 5'9" practice squad receivers, the ones that only last four games. That should get it done.    

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