Friday, April 20, 2012

Rams report, 4/20: Fletcher Cox at #6?

* Most of the draftnik world believes the Rams are going to get either Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson or Morris Claiborne next Thursday night with the #6 pick in the draft. Or maybe Matt Kalil. Those four have been considered four of the top six players, along with the top two QBs, and then there's a dropoff. The Rams wouldn't stray outside the Big Six at #6, would they? Would they? Certainly they wouldn't pass up on an offensive skill player to take a defensive tackle, would they?

But Pro Football Weekly's draft expert, Nolan Nawrocki, has already painted a scenario in his mock draft where the Rams actually pass up Justin Blackmon and take Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. And Jason LaCanfora is jumping aboard the Fletcher Cox bandwagon on

I'm looking at the St. Louis Rams, who possess the sixth overall pick, as one of the teams that could throw a major curveball. Conventional wisdom has them taking Richardson, who coach Jeff Fisher has gushed about, Claiborne or a wide receiver. But look back on Fisher's time in Tennessee. Few teams loaded up on more defensive linemen than Fisher's Titans. Richardson is special, but the Rams still have Steven Jackson. Plus, we're in an age of devaluing running backs and they abound in the middle rounds and late stages of free agency. Claiborne is special ... but the Rams just gave Cortland Finnegan $33 million over the next three years. And sure, they need weapons for Sam Bradford, but this draft is deepest at wide receiver -- the Rams can find a starting wideout at the top of the second round.
What you won't find outside of the top of the draft is a game-changing interior defensive lineman. And it says here Fletcher Cox is the guy for the Rams. The Mississippi State defensive tackle is exactly the kind of guy Jim Washburn, Fisher's longtime defensive line coach in Tennessee, would covet.
I like Fletcher Cox, but I really hate the idea of passing on badly-needed offensive skill players to take a DT. If this move made enough sense best-player-available-wise, you'd have thought a lot more people would have been talking about a Big Seven all this time, with Cox as one of that group. Has not happened, though. If Miami suddenly got interested in the #6 pick and I could get Fletcher Cox at #8, though, I'd happily do that. Again, though, not a very realistic scenario.

And where were all these "Rams should take Fletcher Cox" people in 2010 when I wanted to take Ndamukong Suh?

* Some good injury news for the Rams at this week's OTAs:
- Sam Bradford says the sprained ankle that ended his 2011 season early "feels ten times better."
- Bradley Fletcher's recovery from a torn ACL is well ahead of schedule. He is already working out on a limited basis and is expecting to be at full speed for the start of training camp.
- Rodger Saffold is close to full recovery from his pectoral muscle tear. The Rams held him back this week.
- Jason Smith appears to be fully recovered from his concussions and neck injury from last season.
- Danny Amendola and Greg Salas were both full participants in minicamp.
- Michael Hoomanwanui is not apparently all the way back from his knee injury, but it sounds like he is close.

That's already far more good injury news than Steve Spagnuolo got all last season, so Jeff Fisher should count his blessings.

* RamView mock draft tweaks: assuming I get it out this weekend, I now have Quinton Coples to Seattle at 12, Luke Kuechly to the Big Dead at 13 and Riley Reiff to da Bears at 19.

And Fletcher Cox not to the Rams at #6.


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