2011 NFL Draft
will be kicking off today at eleven central. Four more rounds to go, four more chances for the Rams to try and add talent as they continue their rebuilding effort.
There is still plenty of talent on the board, plenty of useful players who could help the Rams in 2011 and beyond. By the time you get to the middle rounds, though, generally all the players left are going to have their warts, whether they're too small or too slow or they scored a three on their Wonderlic or they like to party like Rick James. At this point teams are going to be drafting more for position and less for talent; best player available is much less of an imperative past about round two.
So with that in mind, here's a brief list of some players I believe would (or should), be of strong interest to the Rams on day three. Note this is not a best player available list; this is more about matching up what the Rams still need with the guys who might offer a fit.
Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State --
A mid-sized back, Hunter is bigger and more durable than the micro backs that are so in vogue at the moment. (Darren Sproles and his ilk.) Hunter is very elusive, has good speed, and is strong enough to potentially carry a full season's load if asked to do so. He's also very good out of the backfield. Of the running backs left on the board, Hunter would be my choice.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State -- Rodgers is a smaller back than Hunter, cut more from the scatback mold. His small stature (5'6", 195), as well as some immaturity concerns could knock him well down many draft boards, but he's shown great elusiveness and an excellent burst in his college career.
Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington -- Taiwan Jones is fast. Actually, let me rephrase that. Taiwan Jones is fast. He's fast enough you have to put the word in italics. He's actually big enough you could see him as a feature back as well, at 6'0" and right around 200 lbs, and he runs a 40 in the low 4.3 range. Again, fast. He's also noted for having outstanding hands in the receiving game. Actually, I take back what I said above about Kendall Hunter being my choice of the running backs left. He's been the better player so far, but Jones's talent is too scintillating for me to say no to.
Greg Jones, LB, Michigan State -- One of my favourite players in the draft, I can't believe Jones is still on the board. He didn't have a great combine, and I suppose that bumped him down significantly. Still, he would be a great fit for the Rams' weakside weakness, as he's a sideline-to-sideline tackler who's active on every single play. Gifted with a nonstop motor and excellent instincts, Jones would present an outstanding complement to James Laurinaitis in the Rams' linebacker corps.
Ross Homan, LB, Ohio State -- Covered earlier. I think he'd be a good value pick sometime early today.
K.J. Wright, LB, Mississippi State -- A long-framed linebacker who put up good production numbers in college, Wright isn't terribly fast but plays smart and does a nice job in coverage. He also excels in getting his hands up at the line of scrimmage to disrupt a quarterback's vision or even take a swipe at the ball.
Clint Boling, G/T, Georgia -- Boling's best attribute is his versatility, as he played every position on the offensive line in college at some point or another. He would give the Rams flexibility on their O-line, and has the size and strength to hold up on the inside where they need help the most. I like him better inside than at tackle, but it would be nice to have a guy who can move out if necessary.
David Arkin, G, Missouri State -- Covered earlier.
Tim Barnes, C/G, Missouri -- Covered earlier.
Marcus Cannon, G, TCU -- Marcus Cannon is a monster, and should have easily been a late first/early second round pick. The only problem is that while receiving a physical in preparation for the draft it was discovered he has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and will immediately begin receiving chemotherapy. The good news: he has better than a 90% chance of beating the cancer. The bad news: chemo and all that goes along with it has created enough uncertainty about his health in the near future that teams don't know what to do with him. He could be an option in the later rounds, though, if a team felt good about taking him, getting him through treatment, and then building him back into football shape. Whether or not that's a risk the Rams can afford to take, I just don't know.
Robert Sands, S, West Virginia -- Covered earlier.
Joe Lefeged, S, Rutgers -- One of the fastest defensive backs in the draft, despite being a safety, Lefeged has big-play athletic ability. He can run, he can jump, and while his hands aren't elite, once he gets hold of the ball he can make the opposition miss. Could see some time as a kick returner as well if necessary, and is capable of playing all over the field.
Eric Hagg, S, Nebraska -- Covered earlier.
Brandon Burton, CB, Utah -- The Rams don't really need another cornerback, but Burton has elite physical talent and could be too promising to pass up. He has a good frame (at 6'0", 190 he fits the Rams' preference for bigger corners), solid speed, and excellent footwork, particularly coming out of the backpedal. He works better man-to-man than in zone coverage, which would be a plus for the Rams. He's fallen to this point in the draft because of inconsistent performance in college, but if a team believed they could tap into his talent fully they might find a huge steal this late in the game.
Christian Ballard, DT, Iowa -- Ballard has great quickness but could use more strength on his frame. Still, coming from a perennial defensive powerhouse in the Big 10 you expect him to be smart and well-coached, and both of those things are true. In a defensive line class which has been raked over pretty well, Ballard is the best of the crop still standing. He holds up well in the middle but lacks the moves to penetrate through into the backfield. There are times when his motor has been a bit suspect.
Jerrell Powe, DT/NT, Ole Miss -- Powe is a load at 6'2" and 320 pounds, and is usually seen more as a nose tackle than a tackle in the 4-3 alignment. Still, as a run-stopper who can clog up the middle of the field, you could do worse than Powe if he hangs around much longer.
Cedric Thornton, DT, Southern Arkansas -- A potential small-school sleeper, Thornton has great size (6'3", 310), and outstanding physical tools, but also has all the competition questions that come with any small-school prospect. Still, he's dominated the opposition consistently and could sneak up into the middle rounds.
Charles Clay, FB/TE/H-Back, Tulsa -- I don't really know what to do with Charles Clay, so I'm just going to put him at the end here. Clay is one of the more unique players in the draft, a guy who really does it all and looks like his best fit may be in that H-back role. Coming out of the backfield he can block and catch the ball beautifully, and he's not a terrible rusher either. I only include him because Josh McDaniels seems to like hybrid-type players, and getting a guy capable of playing fullback into the fold again would help out Steven Jackson. Then again, Clay may be too similar to a player the Rams already have on their roster, Mike Hoomanawanui. Still, I find Clay to be a very intriguing player, and wouldn't at all mind seeing the Rams take a chance on him in the later rounds
Now, you would think I've covered enough players here to guarantee the Rams will take at least one of these guys, but I'd be willing to bet not a one of them is wearing the blue and gold next year. It's just how the draft seems to work.
With less than three hours to go until day three kicks off, I'm excited to see how many more surprises Devaney and Company can pull out of their hats. Aren't you?
The third and final day of the