BY HOWARD BALZER
ST. LOUIS -- It's the dawning of a new day at Rams Park, with general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher in command.
In the first month of the league year, the Rams added 10 unrestricted free agents, headed by cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who adds attitude and toughness to the defense.
Most important, the Rams engineered a trade with the Washington Redskins that landed them an extra second-round pick -- giving Snead and the Rams the 33rd and 39th overall selections in the draft -- and pushed their first selection to sixth in the first round from second.
They did acquire first-round picks in 2013 and 2014, but barring a big move back up in the draft, those won't help this year as the Rams look to fill several remaining holes on a team that has won a total of 15 games over the last five seasons.
The most popular positions being scrutinized as the Rams conducted their 30 pre-draft visits were wide receiver, cornerback and defensive tackle. With the sixth choice, the Rams could be faced with deciding whether to add running back Trent Richardson when they still have a consistently productive Steven Jackson -- who turns 29 before the start of the season and has eight seasons and 2,138 carries worth of tread worn from his tires -- or find a partner for another trade down.
Five picks Les Snead should contemplate:
WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (NFLDraftScout.com overall ranking: 6)
The Rams need playmakers for quarterback Sam Bradford, and Blackmon appears to be the best in this year's class. He might not be A.J. Green or Julio Jones, but Blackmon would instantly upgrade a receiving corps that has been searching for a top talent for several years. If the Rams trade down, Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd could be in the mix. Fisher is not averse to selecting players that have had off-field issues.
CB Morris Claiborne, Louisiana State (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 5)
Ron Bartell was released and Bradley Fletcher is trying to come back from his second ACL surgery in three years. Jerome Murphy, a second-round pick in 2010, is also returning from a season-ending injury. Despite the addition of Finnegan, depth is suspect and the Rams showed last year a team can never have enough corners. Interest has been shown in Janoris Jenkins, which could be an option should he slide to the second or even third round also because of off-field concerns.
WR Rueben Randle, Louisiana State (NFLDraftScout.com overall ranking: 33)
It would be shocking if the Rams failed to add a receiver in the first three rounds. Randle has excellent size and has also shown toughness as a blocker. If a pass-catcher doesn't arrive in the first round, one of those two second-round selections could land Randle if he lasts that long.
RB Doug Martin, Boise State (NFLDraftScout.com overall ranking: 34)
Jackson will be 29 this summer and at some point the Rams have to add in a significant way a player that can be his backup and potentially take over the position. Martin is gaining a lot of traction in the run-up to the draft with some predicting he could be selected in the first round. If that doesn't happen, the Rams could be tempted to spend one of their second-round picks on a runner.
DT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington (NFLDraftScout.com overall ranking: 81)
Unless one of the group of top-rated tackles like Jerel Worthy slips to the second round, the Rams will be looking for a young interior force in the later rounds. Ta'amu is huge and has excellent athleticism for his size. The question is whether he can be coached into being consistent with his effort.