The Combine Report train moves on with another offensive position that the Rams should have increased interest in: running backs. As far as this group goes, I thought there was really only one guy who has the potential to be a franchise-type back and a bunch of other guys who could be decent NFL players or solid third-down backs. As far as the Rams go, it’s no secret that I think this team badly needs another back, but I’m not sure using a fairly high pick in this draft is the answer. There are some guys that would be excellent fits as a change-of-pace back for Steven Jackson, but those guys will probably be available in the mid-to-late rounds.
Player I Was Most Impressed With: Mark Ingram (Alabama)
Ingram isn’t the greatest running back to ever enter the NFL Draft, but he is without a doubt the cream of the crop in this year’s class. His Heisman Trophy speaks for itself, but I was really surprised at how quick his feet were during the drills. He is a pretty big boy, but his speed was impressive and you could tell during the workout that he is far more elusive than most bigger backs. He’s probably not an option for the Rams unless he falls out of first round, and the chances of that happening are slim to none.
Honorable Mention: Mikel Leshore, Ryan Williams, DeMarco Murray, Roy Helu Jr., Allen Bradford.
If there’s another guy in this class that has the potential to be a major success at the next level, it’s Leshore (Illinois). The comparisons to former teammate Rashard Mendenhall is valid, and I think whoever gets this kid is going to be very happy with him. Williams (Va Tech) is a guy I have been keeping an eye on, and I thought he pretty much showed what I expected during workouts. Murray (Okla) might be a nice fit with the Rams depending on how late he is still there, and Helu (Neb) and Bradford (USC) were guys who looked much better than I expected in both the measurables and the drills.
Player I Was Most Disappointed In: Daniel Thomas (K-State)
I don’t know if it’s really fair to make Thomas my biggest disappointment since he didn’t really participate due to injury, but he was the guy I was most looking forward to seeing at the RB position heading into this thing, so I was very disappointed when he wasn’t able to go. Thomas is a guy I think might be on the Rams’ radar come April, so his Pro Day will be of great importance.
Dishonorable Mention: Kendall Hunter, Jaquizz Rodgers, Evan Royster, Vai Taua
Hunter (Ok St.) is another guy I think the Rams might have some interest in, but I was really expecting a better performance. He didn’t look outstanding in the drills, especially in the pass-catching portion. I still like him, but I want to see a better performance at the Pro Day. Quizz (Ore St.) is a guy I really liked in college, but he was very unspectacular as well. I think he might be a guy that is more impressive in game situations, but he is small and he didn’t stand out at the Combine. Royster (Penn St.) had a pretty nice college career, but I didn’t even remember seeing him when I went back to watch it for the second time. Taua struggled a bit during the drills, and he wasn’t overly impressive in any aspect.
I think the Rams desperately need to use an early pick on an heir-apparent to SJ39 at some point, but I don’t think this year is that time. I have no problem with the team looking for a change-of-pace guy on the third day, but there just aren’t enough great players in this class to use an early pick on a running back, in my opinion.
Tags: 2011 NFL Combine 2011 NFL Draft Allen Bradford Combine Report Daniel Thomas DeMarco Murray Evan Royster Heisman Trophy Jaquizz Rodgers Kendall Hunter Mark Ingram Mikel Leshore Rashard Mendenhall Roy Helu Jr. Running Back Ryan Williams SJ39 St. Louis Rams Steven Jackson Vai Taua