Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 4/26/12
Getting a handle on how the Rams will approach the draft, at least in the first round, is as unpredictable as the usual smokescreens that are sent up every year by NFL teams. After moving down to the sixth slot in the opening round following their March deal with the Redskins, the Rams also own the first and seventh picks in the second round. But the first-round choice is what has everyone's attention. Will the Rams move up with Cleveland to get the fourth choice in the round? Unlikely, considering that they would likely have to give up some of the extra ammunition they acquired from the Redskins. Will they move down again, especially if running back Trent Richardson is still on the board? Possible, because stockpiling more picks would be a good result. That could result in the Rams going for the best receiver, defensive tackle or cornerback still available. The biggest looming question is whether the Rams would select Richardson if he is available, given the presence of Steven Jackson on a roster that has numerous needs. Picks three through six could fall in many different orders, leaving the Rams with what might be a difficult decision. Nice Fits: Wide receiver Justin Blackmon, defensive tackle Devon Still, cornerback Chase Minnifield TEAM NEEDS Wide receiver: The Rams are looking for talent outside the numbers that can support quarterback Sam Bradford. Brandon Lloyd was an unrestricted free agent the Rams say they were interested in bringing back, but Lloyd followed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to New England. Danario Alexander has shown the ability to make plays down the field, but injuries have kept him off the field. Steve Smith was signed as a free agent, but there remain questions about his surgical knee, although Smith said he felt good at the team's minicamp. Defensive tackle: This is a strong year for the position in the draft, and the Rams could be tempted, especially if they trade out of the sixth overall pick in the first round. Fred Robbins and Justin Bannan were released. The other main players in the rotation last season were Gary Gibson and Darell Scott and Gibson is an unsigned free agent. The Rams did sign Kendall Langford and Trevor Laws as free agents, but they are still shopping. Cornerback: Injury questions muddle the evaluation of this position going forward. Ron Bartell was cleared to play late in the season after suffering a broken bone in his neck in the first game but was released. Bradley Fletcher suffered a torn ACL in October during the team's bye, and it's unknown when he will be cleared to play although he said he expects to be ready for training camp. Jerome Murphy missed the entire season with a broken ankle suffered early in training camp. Cortland Finnegan was signed, but more help is needed. Running back: Steven Jackson will be 29 in July, and even though it is believed there's a lot of life left in his legs, a quality backup to him remains a priority. Safety: There are currently only three under contact on the roster - Quintin Mikell, Darian Stewart and Craig Dahl - so depth is obviously needed. Cornerback Brian Jackson can play some safety, but depth is still a necessity. -- Throughout the offseason, the expectation has been that, at some point, something would happen with Rams tackle Jason Smith's contract. It finally did Tuesday (April 17), the day the Rams' first minicamp under coach Jeff Fisher opened. Smith participated at the minicamp, taking the reps at right tackle, and it was clear Fisher was subtly revealing more about Smith than initially realized when the coach said after being asked about him, "Yeah, he's good. He's been here, he's been working. He's been working very well inside and his condition level is excellent. We're excited about a new start for him, if you will." Fisher acknowledged that Smith and Rodger Saffold (on the left side) are the team's tackles, saying, "That's the way we're going to line up and play. That's the way I think they're better suited right now. They're both excited about working with 'Boo' (line coach Paul Boudreau) and vice versa. He's a very, very good coach and he's going to get the most out them." If Boudreau does, especially with Smith, there could be another contract renegotiation next March. If not, Smith will depart and the Rams will absorb a relatively minimal cap hit of 3,267,500. Mac's Football Blog broke the story late Saturday afternoon, and the numbers have been confirmed. Prior to the restructuring, Smith was scheduled to be paid 10 million for 2012 with 1 million of that guaranteed. His salary-cap charge was 13,267,500, including 3,267,500 as proration from an option bonus of 16,337,500 paid in 2010, his second season. For this year, his salary was reduced to 4 million plus a 500,000 roster bonus. In 2013 and 2014, his salary was to be 12 million and 3.325 million, respectively. The restructured deal eliminates 2014 from the contract and slashes his base salary to 750,000 in 2013. However, there is an 11.25 million roster bonus due, likely early in the 2013 league year. If paid as a roster bonus, which won't happen, his cap hit next year would be 15,267,500. The cap charge for this year, despite the 5.5 million less in cash being paid, was only reduced 2,232,500 because the prorated bonus from the eliminated 2014 year accelerated into this year. If Smith can step up his game and stay healthy during the 2012 season, another restructuring with an extension beyond 2013 would eliminate the roster bonus and significantly reduce the 2013 cap charge. Of course, Smith won't be forced to sign a new deal. He would know that if his game is rehabilitated, he will become a free agent after the non-payment of the roster bonus. Still, Smith has to be thankful the Rams recognize his ability by agreeing to guarantee all of his 4 million salary. One story about the Smith signing said he showed off his character by signing off on the new contract. What he showed off was common sense because he knew he was unlikely to receive 4 million guaranteed from any other team this year. Had the Rams simply released him now, they would have saved 10 million in cash and 3.465 million against the cap. But they also wouldn't have a viable option at right tackle for the 2012 season. After the team's first minicamp practice, Smith told reporters, including the Post-Dispatch, "I have a new outlook on life by faith. Write that. I'm so happy. It's hard to explain ... I'm happy they decided to keep me around. So I'm a new face. I'm a new type of guy here. I expect a change in my performance." Boudreau told the Post-Dispatch why he likes Smith on the right side. He said, "Jason is a powerful guy. You put him next to Harvey (Dahl) and you get the double-team combinations in your runs. A little more physical there. We're trying to put the guys in the best position for them to succeed."
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Todd Gurley says Rams believe they can win Super Bowl

Seven players who stood out in Rams' thrilling win over 49ers

Rams WRs Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin evaluated for concussions

Alec Ogletree throws 49ers player to the ground

WATCH: Pierre Garcon tips his toes for beautiful highlight reel catch

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Aaron Donald called for horrible roughing the passer penalty

Brilliant pass-and-catch from Goff, Watkins highlight TNF

Gordon Hayward: Isaiah Thomas had big role in recruiting me to Boston

Arkansas RB Whaley will play despite reported fight with teammate

Pockets of empty seats for Rams-49ers on Thursday

Clippers hire Bruce Bowen as TV analyst

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

College football 2017 Week 4 predictions

10 teams that can unseat the Warriors in 2018

NFL Referee Hotline: Mike McCarthy is sick of these calls

The 'Kevin Durant has mad (Twitter) handles' quiz

Baseball's most underwhelming teams of 2017

Rams News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

10 teams that can unseat the Warriors in 2018

College football 2017 Week 4 predictions

NFL Referee Hotline: Mike McCarthy is sick of these calls

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker