After Three Reaches, Rams May Have Drafted The Right WRs
In the past four years, the Rams have had the luxury of one of the league's top stables of wide receivers. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt have a combined seven 1,000 yard seasons in over that span. Behind them, clutch possession receiver Ricky Proehl and (until last year) speedy slot receiver Az Hakim gave the Rams a four deep wideout set that made nickel backs cringe.
In this league, however, luxuries are often fleeting. And, now in 2003, Hakim and Proehl have left for greener pastures. Meanwhile, Isaac Bruce is getting older and veteran acquisitions have ranged from the promising, but unfulfilled potential of Troy Edwards to the complete bust of Terrence Wilkins.
The Rams knew this day would come, and have made some effort to find the next generation of wide receivers through the draft. However, having greater needs on defense, these efforts were, until this year, relegated to reaches for diamonds in the rough.
Milton Wynn was the first. He of the great size/speed combination that made Ram fans dream of fade patterns in the red zone becoming automatic points. But the warning signs were there from the beginning - an inconsistent college career ending with a failed attempt to withdraw from draft eligibility - and, ultimately, Wynn failed to even crack the roster. The Rams also took a flyer on Francis St. Paul, a supposed Hakim clone, who never rose above the practice squad.
Last year, the Rams really reached for a solution with the drafting of Eric Crouch. Perhaps, with the right heart for taking hits, Crouch would have made a good wide receiver. But this theory will never be proven, as Crouch retired and then unretired for a chance to hold Brett Favre's clipboard.
Finally, this year, the Rams did it right. After addressing the defense in rounds 1 and 2, the Rams selected two wide receivers in rounds 3 and 4, Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald.
Curtis is a smart, fast and polished wide receiver. What's more, he played on a team that runs an offense that mimicks Air Martz - even borrowing from the Rams' own playbook. McDonald is the latest Hakim clone - but he actually produced in a big time college program, unlike his practice squad predecessor.
The early returns are raves. Some have McDonald as the frontrunner for the third WR spot. Others have quoted Martz as describing Curtis as a future "household name."
If the Greatest Show is to go on, it will be drafts like this that will ensure its repeated encores.
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