NFL team needs in the eye of the beholder

PHOENIX -- Conventional wisdom says the St. Louis Rams have significant needs at running back and wide receiver after parting with Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson in free agency. That is not necessarily how the Rams see things.

"Let's take our running back situation," general manager Les Snead was saying recently from the NFL owners meeting.

2012 Rams Leaders: Scrimmage Yards

First, the conventional wisdom part.

Jackson left the Rams after posting his eighth consecutive 1,000-yard season. Daryl Richardson, a 2012 seventh-round pick, had 98 carries for 475 yards. Another rookie, second-round choice Isaiah Pead, carried 10 times for 54 yards.

Jackson has 10,135 career rushing yards, most in Rams history. Richardson and Pead have 529 yards combined.

Big disparity, right?

"Hey, I've got a picture of Steven Jackson hanging on my wall," Snead said, "but at the end of the day, the two rookies that we had had better yards per carry than him. A lot of times, the guys you drafted last year get lost because, where are they at in the world?"

Snead wasn't making an empirical case for yards per carry over one season as an air-tight measure for future running back production. He was saying what the Rams' decision to let Jackson out of his contract had already said. The Rams like some of their young players.

"Build, develop and coach," Snead said. "We are in the development stage. We drafted wide receivers last year. I mean, Brian Quick had one less touchdown than Danny Amendola. I love Danny Amendola, but there is a bright spot there and it is our job to develop that talent. That is how you become successful. You work to make the decisions you make work."

The Rams could still draft running backs or receivers this year. Teams routinely select players they value with less regard for position. But if they fail to emphasize those positions in the early rounds, we'll have a good idea why.