If the St. Louis Rams are going to improve on their 7-9 record of last season they’re going to need a strong wide receiver core. But at the moment it doesn’t look like it’s going to be much better than last season’s and there’s cause for fans to worry.
The team picked up a couple of wide receivers in the draft when they took Austin Pettis from Boise in the third round and Greg Salas out of Hawaii in the fourth. Tight end Lance Kendricks was selected in the second round.
The 6-foot-3 203 lb. Pettis had decent junior and senior years. He gained 951 yards on 71 receptions last year and scored 10 touchdowns, but he wasn’t too impressive at the Combine and NFL.com ranked him as just a a solid backup WR.
The 6-foot-1, 210 lb. Salas also looked pretty good as a junior and senior and he gained 1,590 yards in 2009 on 106 receptions with eight touchdowns. He improved on those numbers in 2010 with 1,889 yards on 119 receptions and 14 touchdowns. But he didn’t impress the scouts much at the Combine either and NFL.com said he doesn’t have the physical traits to compete at the next level.
Josh McDaniels is the Rams new offensive coordinator and he’s got a bit of a traffic jam now at tight end and wide receiver as he attempts to introduce a more wide-open attack next season. The only sure things at those positions right now look to be unrestricted free agent Mark Clayton, slot receiver Danny Amendola, and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. But there’s definitely going to be a lot of competition due to the sheer number of candidates at wide receiver. The Rams opened last season with six of them.
Pettis and Salas would have to have poor training camps to be put on waivers as rookies and Donnie Avery will also be thrown into the mix if he’s healthy. After that, the Rams have Danario Alexander, Brandon Gibson, Mardy Gilyard, and Laurent Robinson and Dominique Curry. This might give Curry the edge because the last wide receiver spot usually goes to somebody who can contribute there to make the 45-player roster. St. Louis could still go after an experienced free agent wide receiver, such as Sidney Rice or Plaxico Burress, if he gets out of prison.
When looking at each WR candidate on the Rams, fans need to ask questions about them.
Will Alexander stay injury free?, is Amendola a one-year-wonder?, will Gilyard be back and can he get a grip on McDaniels play book?, can Gibson improve in his third season?, will Robinson be 100 per cent healthy after breaking his leg in 2009 and can he overcome a poor 2010?, can Avery bounce back from his torn ACL and will McDaniels even want him? will Clayton re-sign with the club and will they want him after last season’s injury?
If all of these questions can be answered positively and Pettis and Salas perform better than NFL.com predicts, the Rams should improve over last season. But that shouldn’t be too hard considering Amendola led the wide receivers with just three touchdowns and only once did one of them manage to reach 100 yards. It looks like it could be another disappointing year for their fans.