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Report: Rams liked WR AJ Jenkins almost as much as Justin Blackmon in 2012 NFL Draft

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com
The Rams begin the second round with a clear need at wide receiver. (Getty Images)

A brief recap of the Rams' first round: by virtue of going 2-14, St. Louis had the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but in a blockbuster trade last month, they moved down to No. 6 so the Redskins could take Robert Griffin III second overall. Then, on draft night, the Rams traded down again, this time to No. 14, allowing the Cowboys to grab Morris Claiborne.

In the weeks leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft, conventional wisdom had Justin Blackmon going to the Rams because a big-play wide receiver is exactly what quarterback Sam Bradford needs in an offense that could kindly be described as anemic last season. Blackmon went fifth overall to the Jaguars, which likely prompted the Rams to trade down, in the hopes of landing the No. 2 wideout on most team's boards: Michael Floyd.

Problem: Floyd went to the Cardinals one pick before the Rams were to go on the clock at No. 14. Foiled again … except that, according to a report from Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis had Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins rated as highly as Blackmon.

"League sources told the Post-Dispatch on Thursday afternoon that the Rams liked Jenkins so much that his grade wasn't much different than the one given Blackmon by the team's personnel department," Thomas wrote Friday.

So why didn't the Rams grab Jenkins at No. 14? Our theory: no one expected Jenkins to go in the first round, much less midway through the first round. Instead, St. Louis, with plenty of needs on both sides of the ball, took the best player available on their board: LSU defensive end Michael Brockers. And they'd grab Jenkins with the first pick in the second round (33rd overall).

The 49ers ruined those plans when they drafted Jenkins at No. 30. So now what?

The Rams could target Stephen Hill, the 6-4 burner long on athleticism but short on experience (in Georgia Tech's run-heavy offense last season, Hill had just 28 receptions … but averaged 29.3 yards per catch). But St. Louis might not want to wait for Hill to develop, an understandable position given that they were one of the league's worst teams in 2011.

Which is why Thomas thinks that St. Louis could target either LSU's Reueben Randle or Appalachian State's Brian Quick early on Day 2. We'll know one way or the other in a few hours.

Follow every pick of the 2012 NFL Draft with the CBSSports.com Draft Tracker.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.
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