Originally posted on Rams Herd  |  Last updated 1/16/13
There is no other position on the Rams roster where one player can have a significant impact on overall performance as wide receiver. Yes, Craig Dahl is terrible, but I do not expect a rookie safety to improve our overall defense in 2013. On the other hand, a receiver who can reliably catch the ball and routinely get open could cause the metamorphosis on offense that the Rams need. First, Gibson finally takes his rightful space on the bench. Second, Amendola is a second option, not the only guy who can get open. If he isn’t the primary target, he might actually make it through 16 games in 2013. (Of course, I am assuming we resign Amendola). Third, Quick can be given a limited role that he can learn to master. Finally, what happens if Sam Bradford can review the entire field because he knows that one guy will be open or at least catch the ball in traffic?  With that introduction, the question now turns to whether there is a reliable wide receiver in the 2013 draft that can routinely get open in his rookie year, thus being worthy of a first round pick from the Rams.  Here are the candidates: Name Height Weight School Proj. Speed CBS Sports Rank Walter FB Rank B/R Rank Keenan Allen 6’3” 210 Cal 4.49 1 (1st rd) 1 (top 25) 1 (1st rd) Terrance Williams 6’2” 205 Baylor 4.50 6 (2nd rd) 2 (rd 1-2) 5 (2nd rd) Cordarrele Patterson 6’3” 200 Tenn 4.40 2 (1st rd) 6 (rd 1-3) 2 (1st rd) Tavon Austin 5’9” 176 West Virginia 4.39 3 (1st rd) 3 (rd 1-2) 3 (1st rd) DeAndre Hopkins 6’1” 200 Clemson 4.40 5 (rd 1-2) 4 (rd 1-2) 4 (2nd rd) Robert Woods 6’1” 180 USC 4.40 4 (rd 1-2) 9 (rd 2-3) 6 (2nd rd) Justin Hunter 6’4” 200 Tenn 4.48 7 (2nd rd) 5 (rd 1-3) 7 (2nd rd) Da’Rick Rogers 6’3” 206 Tenn Tech 4.48 8 (2nd rd) 7 (rd 1-3) 9  (3rd rd) Markus Wheaton 6’0” 182 Oregon St. 4.40 9 (2nd rd) 12 (rd 2-4) 8 (2nd rd) In my opinion, Keenan Allen is the best route runner and he may have the best hands.  Patterson may have the best size speed ratio.  Da’Rick Rogers may be the strongest guy in the bunch.  Tavon Austin has the best special team potential and can add an Az Hakim element to our offense.  So, do the Rams take a wide receiver in the first round with either the 16th or the 22nd pick? If yes, there really is only one option: Keenan Allen. I simply don’t think Williams, Patterson or Austin will work for us in the first round. Williams has been unable to convince all of the experts about his NFL potential. Patterson is exciting, but raw. We already have raw in Brian Quick. We don’t need another. Finally, we don’t have the luxury of taking a tremendously undersized highly specialized wide receiver in the 1st round. Teams that have a legit number one receiver may covet the unique skills that Austin brings, but that is not the Rams. Therefore, the question becomes: Is Keenan Allen that much better than the wide receivers that may be available with the 46th pick in the 2nd round?  In many mock draft, Williams, Hopkins, Woods, Hunter and Rodgers are still available.  Of course, waiting until the 2nd round also means one or more of these names may not be there.  For me it all comes down to the combine numbers for Allen. As a general rule, I do not raise players on my draft board based on combine numbers. However, I will lower players. When Mark Ingram ran a 4.6 at the combine, I knew he would never be a star in the NFL. With a wide receiver, I want three things: 1 – Catch the damn ball. A WR must have reliable hands. 2 – A superior route runner. Getting open is not just quickness or size. Isaac Bruce was always open because he was an extraordinary route runner and he could switch directions on a dime at full speed. 3 – Superior athletic ability – I am not looking just at 40 yard dash times. I also want to know 10 yard numbers, cone drill numbers, broad jump and vertical leap. From his college career, I already know that Keenan Allen can run routes. I already know Allen can reliably catch the ball. I already know he has good speed for college. However, I don’t know if he has the speed to become an elite receiver in the NFL. The Rams have one luxury. They do not need a burner. They already have Givens who has proven that he has superior speed. At the same time, Allen needs to show that he has sufficient speed and quickness to get separation in the NFL. I also want to know if he can out leap cornerbacks for a high pass in the end zone. After the combine, I will supplement this article with my thoughts whether Allen is worthy of the Rams 16th or 22nd selection. For those of you that want to see with your own eyes, here is a highlight video for Keenan Allen:
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