The St. Louis Rams will be on the clock during the 2012 NFL draft in less than two weeks. Mock drafts are presenting a plethora of possibilities as the smokescreens arise, various scenarios abound and speculation runs almost out of control league-wide.
Many times we will not know exactly which teams really like which players until the cards are finally turned in on draft day.
If the Rams do not trade out of the No. 6 pick (which certainly is a possibility, as head coach Jeff Fisher admits), there is one player and one player alone who the Rams should select without any hesitation whatsoever.
With a roster with more holes than a golf course and more faulty areas than San Andreas, there is only one option that should be considered there.
When considering this team is almost certainly at least another year away from potentially competing for a Lombardi Trophy after winning three games or less in four of five seasons during the worst five year run in NFL history (15-65 record), the choice is easy.
If the Rams were truly just a proverbial player or two away, the considerations might be different. However, St. Louis is almost certainly a little further away than that (and I am as optimistic as they come, in general.)
What should make the decision even clearer for the St. Louis decision makers is the fact that the Rams possess two first round picks in both 2013 and 2014 via the historic Robert Griffin III trade.
Looking at the Rams in regard to the big picture and when considering St. Louis will own twice the options in the first round in the two subsequent drafts as almost everyone else while also possessing two early second-round choices this year to help fill needs, there really is but one prudent choice.
At No. 6, St. Louis should absolutely select this player: whatever player the Rams have rated as their best player available, period.
Unless there is a trade-down option that they like, the discussion should end there.
It really should be that simple for St. Louis.
This team needs elite players to set as cornerstones and foundational pieces. They are not a player or two away nor are they in a position (as a bona fide contender) where they can or should risk reaching in any manner.
If St. Louis were in fact a legitimate Super Bowl contender (and I hope I am wrong and we win it all this year as we did in 1999), then it could theoretically make sense to make more of a need pick and go for that perceived missing piece.
However, the Rams have more missing pieces right now than a raided art gallery. Filling one need is not going to fill the bill or make the difference.
There is no real reason for the Rams to even consider reaching beyond whomever is at the top of their draft board as BPA.
With those two first-rounders in 2013 and 2014, St. Louis will have four opportunities to grab elite players from four different positions in those upcoming NFL drafts within its most prestigious and productive round.
They will have more chances to grab someone of an elite status in the next two drafts regardless of who they pick at what position this year.
Players like Robert Woods, Jarvis Jones, D.J. Fluker, David Amerson, Keenan Allen, Sam Montgomery, Jonathon Hankins, Marquess Wilson, Tyrann Mathieu, Marcus Lattimore and Xavier Rhodes will all be coming available at some point.
The Rams have a realistic shot at drafting in the top 10 in both of the next two years due to owning the former first-round picks of the Washington Redskins.
As good as rookie Cam Newton was last year, his team still finished 6-10 and will be picking at No. 9. St. Louis could easily be picking in the top 10 in 2013 and/or 2014.
The possession of two early second-round picks this year further puts the Rams in position to grab none other than the BPA at No. 6 and take whatever prospect they are convinced presents the most long-term value to the franchise knowing they have not one but two shots in the second round to meet multiple needs.
This is very unlikely to be a one-year fix for the Rams, so there is no need to risk the future in any way by grabbing anyone other than the BPA early.
Some suggested that St. Louis reached a bit in grabbing converted tight end Jason Smith with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft.
Others, admittedly, felt otherwise.
The point is, though, that teams who reach when drafting in the top 10 rather than maintaining a strict adherence to their draft board run the risk of setting their franchise back and prolonging the struggle that saw them limp into the top 10 to begin with.
If Trent Richardson is the clear BPA when St. Louis goes on the clock, he should be the selection.
If it is Matt Kalil, then Matt Kalil should be the easy choice.
If, in fact, it is Morris Claiborne or Justin Blackmon, then Claiborne or Blackmon should be the guy whose name is called by the commissioner on April 26.
If it is someone else then whoever that someone else might be should receive a phone call from Jeff Fisher or Rams general manager Les Snead asking that player if he is ready to make a football home beneath the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
I am not suggesting the Rams take any particular player at No. 6. I am, however, strongly urging St. Louis to take whatever player they have at the top of their board when it is time to make their first pick.
The Rams have too many needs to fill to reach to meet just one of those inside of the top 10.
With the possession of a beautiful six picks within the first 39 slots over the next three drafts, St. Louis will have ample opportunities to fill more holes and can best do so by sticking to their draft board throughout that process.
That will make it most likely that the Rams end up with the highest total of elite players going forward and help cement a strong, long-term winning tradition with a roster comprised of several Pro Bowl type players.
St. Louis needs to start the whole Fisher/Snead draft era off correctly by taking the BPA at No. 6.
If so, in the end, the Rams will up the odds to the highest point possible that they come away with an exceptional football player.
In less than two weeks Jeff Fisher's Rams will start constructing their football house, so to speak. And the best way to build anything solid, long-lasting and of top-notch quality is to start with the best building materials available.
If money were no real concern, would you want a contractor to build your dream home by simply grabbing whatever came up first every time they went to the building supply center?
Or would you want them to make sure that, even if they had to wait longer than desired, that they get the very best items and building materials they can find, regardless of the order in which they get those items, for each detail of your dream home?
In many ways St. Louis is about to start building their house from the ground up, as we are truly still at the initial stages of the Fisher/Snead building process.
It is critical, then, that they start constructing the foundation with the very best building block that they can find, whoever that building block might ultimately be.
Shane Gray covers the St. Louis Rams daily as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You are encouraged to check out the rest of his work here. Gray also owns and operates stlramscentral.com.
Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com