Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Brandon Lloyd: How the Trade Helps the St. Louis Rams in 2011

ESPN and the NFL Network have been updating us all day on the trade the St. Louis Rams made to acquire All Pro wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. 

The trade came just a day before the NFL trade deadline (Tuesday, Oct. 18) and came as a result of the Denver Broncos announcing over the weekend that their Pro Bowl receiver is on the trade block.

It was reported Sunday night that the San Francisco 49ers were showing the most interest in Lloyd, but now it's clear that the Rams always had the most interest. Perhaps Denver thought they could convince St. Louis that their division rivals were about to make a move.

The Rams got Lloyd for sixth-round pick, at least for now. If Lloyd pulls in 30 or more catches in a Rams uniform, then it will be upgraded to a fifth-round pick.

Fitting In With the Rams

As recently as Sunday, the Rams oldest receiver was the 26-year-old Mike Sims-Walker, who was just released in order to make room on the roster for Lloyd. 

Now all of the sudden the Rams have acquired the 30-year-old veteran Lloyd, as well the 29-year-old Mark Clayton who was just reunited with the team after spending six weeks on the PUP list. In the matter of one day, they went from having zero veteran leadership at the position to having two capable players who have been in the league for a while. 

That added experience is invaluable when so many of their receivers are so young, such as Danario Alexander (23), Brandon Gibson (24), Greg Salas (23) and Austin Pettis (23). The Rams receivers have been struggling with mental errors, such as multiple dropped passes, so it's good that they now have a pair of veterans to turn to for advice. 

What Lloyd also does is knock everyone down a peg. 

Lloyd will obviously face the opposing team's top cornerback, while Danario Alexander (who has been very good already this season) will now face No. 2 corners. Mark Clayton and Greg Salas will see a lot of nickel backs and outside linebackers, while Lance Kendricks will see middle linebackers. As a result, everyone should be able to produce slightly better by facing lesser talent. 

Another thing the Rams have been greatly struggling with is pass blocking. 

If Lloyd can make an impact and become the legitimate receiving threat he was in Denver, then there's a greater chance that either him or another receiver will be able to get open quickly, which Rams receivers have not done very effectively up to this point. 

A better receiving corps means better routes; the better the routes, the quicker the quarterback can throw the ball; the quicker he throws the ball, the less he gets hit; and a quarterback who gets hit less makes the offensive line look a lot better. 

Brandon Lloyd is a good pick-up for the Rams, but it's also important to maintain expectations.

Despite leading the NFL in receiving yards in 2010 (1,448), Lloyd is not a Calvin Johnson-caliber receiver. He's a very good receiver, but he's not capable of carrying an offense on his shoulders. It's going to take solid production from the other 10 members on offense for him to reach his potential. 

If the other offensive players can play at a higher level and give Lloyd some support, then he should be very productive for the team and will help them win football games.

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