The NFL beauty pageant (known to many as the combine) has finally come to a close, and every year we have “winners” and “losers”. I want to point out the names of a few winners the Rams will likely keep their eyes on. It’s important to consider players and talent above draft position- mainly because, this year more than ever, the Rams picks in the draft are far from certain. If that’s not clear enough- breaking news, the Rams will almost certainly trade their 2nd overall pick for a kings ransom ( I predicted this months ago).
Robert Griffin blew everyone away at the combine, so teams won’t be trading for the #2 overall pick, they will be trading for RGIII. This means that St. Louis might have a strong abundance of top 64 picks. Those picks could fill a lot of holes, and save the Rams some money in free Agency.
St. Louis needs a lot of help in 2012-2013, and that means finding certain kinds of players to fill positional needs. Some of these future players may have further defined themselves this weekend, so let’s see who they are.
Starting With Offense:
Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: Few players helped themselves more than Hill who ran a 4.36 40 yd dash at the combine. The Rams desperately need a tall deep threat with some play-making ability, and he should immediately be on the radar. He is likely a late 1st/early 2nd round pick, but will need to be developed because of the scheme he played in college. The tape on him looks good. Many were touting him as a 1st round pick even before the combine. The Rams could do worse than add Stephen Hill to the roster in the late 1st or early second round.
Cordy Glenn, OG/OT, Georgia: They grow them big, strong, and apparently fast down in Georgia. Glenn ran a blazing 40 time for a 345 pound man, and showcased incredible strength during the bench press. His tape already had him in the late first round discussion, now that stock is surely cemented. This is the kind of guy that can become a Jahri Evans-Carl Nicks quality guard in the NFL, and God knows the Rams could use that type of impact player. If the Rams were to pick around, I don’t know…#22 overall, Glenn would certainly be in the conversation.
Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: Martin actually didn’t need to have a great combine, his film speaks for itself. Martin is very quick and has elite lateral movement, but on top of that he posted one of the best speed/size scores among runningbacks at the combine. Martin is being mentioned as a possible 1st rounder, but I don’t know who is going to pull that trigger. I think he could be available in the middle, or possibly late, second round. He reminds me of a young and healthy Cadillac Williams. The Rams will be a 2-back team this year, and I’m willing to bet that Steven Jackson will be the veteran of the two. I believe the Rams will be in play here.
Marvin Jones, WR, California: Jones is another guy that didn’t really need to have a great combine, but had one anyway. He blew a lot of scouts away at the Senior Bowl, which had many going back to double-check his film. Many came away sure that he is a early second round pick. His fast 40 time, and dynamic display during positional drills, have almost certainly confirmed that evaluation. Jones not only has great route running skills and terrific hands, it is now confirmed that he has the speed to be a deep threat as well. Scouts had wondered if he “played fast”, or simply was fast. Now they know it’s both. Trust me, the Rams know it too, and they will keep an eye on Jones. If he were to slip into the late second, early third, that may be too much value to pass up.
Finishing With Defense:
Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis: How many folks watching the combine spit out their coffee when the 6’5 350lb Poe ran a 4.87 40 time? I couldn’t be the only one, right? Poe demonstrated that not only is he a raw talent worth developing at 1st round price, but that he is a necessity for a team the needs help at DT. Poe may go in the top 15 picks because of his insanely rare physical talent, but apparently what makes him even more desirable is that fact that many teams were impressed with him during the interview process as well. Guys that are built like Poe are extremely hard to find, and if he has a good head on his shoulders and checks out medically I don’t see a team in the NFL that wouldn’t want him on thier team. I think the Rams may have a very strong interest here because of Greg Williams affinity for huge nose tackles, and Fishers success with developing small school DT’s into stud NFL players. This would be upset pick for the Rams if they were to pick between #7-15 in the draft.
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama: Did Kirkpatrick have the best combine possible, no. Did he showcase 4.30 speed and incredible strength, no. What he did do was show that everything scouts have seen on his tape is real. He is fast, physical, fluid, and isn’t a major character concern (he reportedly handled interviews surrounding his arrest well). Kirkpatrick is proving that he is a very reliable pick. He is probably a late 1st round pick at this point. Many have unwisely dropped him to the second round, I think his reliability as a first round pick is a strength and I don’t see him getting past Houston. The Rams badly need help at the cornerback position, all the possible starters for 2012-2013 are coming off of injuries, so adding Kirkpatrick in the middle/late first round makes perfect sense.
Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama: I’ve never seen a guy with so much talent plunge from the 1st round without any reason like I have with Hightower. Here is a guy who has been significantly productive throughout his collegiate career, and showcases a suitcase full of skills that all NFL teams desperately need. To top it all off, I think he did a very good job silencing concerns at the combine around his speed, mobilty, and dexterity. The Rams new scheme will need a strong-side linebacker that can rush the passer and play down hill on the run. This is Hightower to a “T”, plus Williams has a history converting college middle linebackers to strongside backers in the NFL. He is probably going to go somewhere in the second round, and I’m sure the Rams will keep a close eye on him.
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State: Wait, what? Have I lost my mind? Burfict was clearly a loser at the combine. He interviewed terrible (blamed his college coaches for lack of production in 2011), ran slow, and was lackadaisical in drills. Many scouts took him off their board completely. But his film doesn’t lie, and he has elite…ELITE talent. He just needs to be coached, and coached by someone who demands his respect, who can get him to fall in line and follow directions. There are few NFL coaches willing to take a chance on Burfict, and I believe Fisher would be one of those few. With all that being said, he is only worth a chance after the 4th or 5th round at this point. That would be a heck of a bargain if it panned out, and a minscule loss if it didn’t. the Rams will have an abundance of picks this year which will afford them the right to take a high-risk/high-reward pick like Burfict in the middle/late rounds of the draft. I believe he is still on the Rams board.
Thanks for reading,