Rams load up, draft WR, CB, RB in second round
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Getting bounced out of Florida was not the end of the world for Janoris Jenkins. The St. Louis Rams are willing to give a cornerback they rated a first-round talent a shot in the NFL.
Jenkins finished his college career at North Alabama after getting dismissed by the Gators following his third marijuana-related arrest in less than two years. He was taken with the third of the Rams' second-round picks on Day 2 of the NFL draft on Friday night.
"I'm pretty sure it hurt, but that's my past," said Jenkins, who waited until the 39th pick to be called. "I've got a new chapter and I'm happy to be a Ram now."
Coach Jeff Fisher felt comfortable taking Jenkins after the franchise did extensive homework including scouting reports, combine interviews, a player visit to St. Louis and staff trips to Florida and Alabama to check on him.
"We talked to many, many, many people that had crossed paths with him since he was a young boy growing up in Pahokee, Fla.," Fisher said. "Every person we talked to said, `Take him.' He made a few mistakes at school, obviously has a young family, but he's got all that stuff under control."
The 5-9, 190-pound Jenkins had been considered one of the top cornerbacks in the Southeastern Conference. As a junior he had shutdown efforts against Julio Jones and A.J. Green, who both had big rookie years in the NFL last season.
The low point for Jenkins may have been in May 2009, when police used a stun gun while arresting him, and he was charged with arrest without violence. Florida coach Will Muschamp kicked Jenkins off the team in April 2011.
"That was my past, that was a year ago," Jenkins said. "I took my second route to go to UNA for a reason, to show people I wasn't a bad kid and I wasn't running from my problems."
Jenkins joins a defense minus its coordinator, with Gregg Williams indefinitely suspended for his role in the Saints' bounty scandal. Fisher, himself a former defensive coordinator, has said the defense will be run by committee and said veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan has already called ready to work with his new teammates.
Fisher has past experience dealing with troubled cornerbacks. Unlike Jenkins, Adam "PacMan" Jones, chosen sixth overall by the Titans in 2005 when Fisher was coach there, had problems after joining the NFL. Jones was suspended for the 2007 season for violating the league's personal conduct policy after several arrests and has bounced around the league.
"Pac, he checked out pretty good with all our background checks, he had one minor issue as a freshman," Fisher said. "Janoris, we're not concerned about him."
The 23-year-old Jenkins, who has three sons and a daughter, was taken with a pick acquired from the Redskins in the deal for the second overall pick. Jenkins had an evasive response to a report by NFL.com that he used marijuana at North Alabama.
"Rumors are going to be rumors," he said. "You've got to deal with it, just prove it on the field week in and week out."
Asked whether was confident he could straighten himself out with the Rams, Jenkins answered "I'm super positive."
Third-round pick Trumaine Johnson, a cornerback from Montana, also was stun-gunned in college. Police subdued Johnson last October at a weekend party.
The Rams addressed their greatest area of need with the first pick of Day 2, taking wide receiver Brian Quick of Appalachian State and giving quarterback Sam Bradford a big weapon. Backup quarterbacks Kellen Clemens and Tom Brandstater threw to Quick last weekend, and as the St. Louis contingent left for the airport Fisher said both had a one-word assessment: "Wow."
Counting the combine, general manager Les Snead saw the 6-3, 222-pound Quick four times in person and said, "three of the four was a wow."
Quick had 71 receptions for 1,096 yards and a 15.4-yard average and 11 touchdowns his senior season with seven 100-yard games.
"He's got rare hand-eye coordination, so he can go snatch it," Snead said. "That same big man can cut on a dime and get off the ball really fast."
The Rams were foiled in their efforts to draft a wide receiver in the first round when Jacksonville traded up and snatched Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State with the fifth pick. The Rams traded down eight picks with the Dallas Cowboys, getting the Cowboys' second-rounder, and missed a shot at a second wide receiver, Michael Floyd, by one pick.
There was no doubt they'd address that need right away on Day 2. Fisher joked that he wouldn't allow Snead to take a phone call from teams wanting to trade up, and that he wouldn't take a call, either.
"We jumped up and down last night when the draft was over," Fisher said. "It rang a little bit but it wasn't worth it. Nobody was home."
The third of the second-rounders went to Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead, a potential backup behind two-time Pro Bowler Steven Jackson. The 5-11, 200-pound Pead ran for 1,259 yards with a 5.3-yard average and 12 touchdowns last year with five 100-yard games. He added 39 receptions with an 8.2-yard average and three TDs. Pead also rushed for 1,000 yards his junior year.
Pead was the Big East offensive player of the year and was the Senior Bowl MVP after punt returns of 68 and 30 yards. Jackson is coming off his seventh consecutive 1,000-yard season and has showed no signs of slowing down. But the Rams have lacked a quality change of pace back for several years.
"He's just a great change of pace runner that we need here now for Steven," Fisher said.
The Rams took defensive tackle Michael Brockers of LSU in the first round, making the defensive line perhaps their strongest unit. Brockers joins a pair of former first-rounders, ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn.
The Rams traded down with Chicago before taking Pead, and got the Bears' fifth-round pick.
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