More bowls? More prospects. More me likey.
(NOTE: Draft stock reflects where players would be drafted were they to come out for this year's draft. Obviously, there are "risers" who would be late picks this year that could come on for their senior years, but that's not the intent here. It's just to give you names to look out for over the next few weeks. Non-eligible prospects won't have a round grade. Potential first or second round picks regardless of class are in bold.)
Sun., Dec. 26th
Florida Int'l v. Toledo: Little Caesars Bowl (Detroit, MI), 8:30pm ET, ESPN
FIU: Anthony Gaiter, CB (Sr., 7-UD), T.Y. Hilton, WR (Jr., 3rd-6th), Tourek Williams, DE (Soph.), Willis Wright, WR (Fr.)
Toledo: Kevin Kowalski, C (Sr., 4th-6th), Eric Page, WR (Soph.)
3k's Rams pick: Kevin Kowalski, C - Toledo
Honestly, I wouldn't mind taking Tourek Williams or Eric Page over Kowalski, but they're both ineligible until the 2012 NFL Draft. Out of the remaining crop, I give the nod to Kowalski over T.Y. Hilton for the Rams. He's been part of a good Toledo line in the last four years and has enough bulk (just under 300 lbs.) to be effective at the NFL level. I saw Kowalski against Arizona to open the season and against Boise St. in early October, and I think he could be a nice depth option for the Rams.
Mon., Dec. 27th
Air Force v. Ga. Tech: AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA), 5:00pm ET, ESPN2
Air Force: Reggie Rembert, CB (Sr., 7-UD)
Ga. Tech: Anthony Allen, RB (Sr., 4th-6th), Mario Butler, CB (Sr., 5th-6th), Brad Jefferson, ILB (Sr., 7th-UD), Jerrard Tarrant, FS (Jr., 5th-UD), Omoregie Uzzi, OG (RS Soph., 4th-6th), T.J. Barnes, DT (RS Soph., 4th-7th), Izaan Cross, 3-4 DE (Soph.), Stephen Hill, WR (Soph.), Isaiah Johnson, FS (Fr.), Brandon Watts, ILB (Fr.), Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB (Fr.)
3k's Rams pick: T.J. Barnes, DT - Ga. Tech
Barnes is a mammoth (6'6", 340 lbs.), and that bulk could help Fred Robbins find peace in retirement. And for the price, Barnes could be a solid value choice. I wouldn't be too surprised if he goes as a 3-4 NT, which he's played at for the Yellow Jackets. If, though, he slides into the fifth or sixth round and the Rams haven't spent a pick on a DT, Barnes would make sense.
Tue., Dec. 28th
W. Virginia v. NC State: Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando, FL), 6:30pm ET, ESPN
W. Virginia: Noel Devine, RB (Sr., 2nd-3rd), Brandon Hogan, CB (Sr., 3rd-5th), Jock Sanders, WR (Sr., 4th-6th), Chris Neild, DT (Sr., 5th-7th), Robert Sands, FS (Jr., 3rd-4th), Keith Tandy, CB (Jr., 4th-6th), Julian Miller, DT (Jr., 5th-7th), Bruce Irvin, DE (Jr., 5th-UD), Tyler Bitancurt, K (RS Soph., 4th-7th), Geno Smith, QB (Soph.), Tavon Austin, WR (Soph.), Stedman Bailey, WR (Fr.)
NC State: Nate Irving, ILB (Sr., 3rd-4th), Jarvis Williams, WR (Sr., 7th-UD), George Bryan, TE (Jr., 2nd-4th), Audie Cole, OLB (Jr., 4th-6th), Russell Wilson, QB (Jr., 6th-UD), J.R. Sweezy, DT (Jr., 6th-UD), Terrell Manning, OLB (RS Soph., 2nd-3rd), R.J. Mattes, OT (RS Soph., 4th-6th)
3k's Rams pick: Terrell Manning, OLB - NC State
I had Manning at #4 on my big board from early December, and I'm still behind my assessment of him. His ceiling is as high as it can be for an OLB. Great athleticism, great speed and great awareness for a 20-year-old. We know the Rams need talent at OLB. Manning is a talent.
Missouri v. Iowa: Insight Bowl (Tempe, AZ), 10:00pm ET, ESPN
Mizzou: Tim Barnes, C (Sr., 2nd-4th), Kevin Rutland, CB (Sr., 6th-UD), Blaine Gabbert, QB (Jr., 2nd-4th), Michael Egnew, TE (Jr., 3rd-5th), Elvis Fisher, OT (Jr., 4th-7th), Dan Hoch, OT (Jr., 5th-7th), Will Ebner, ILB (Jr., 6th-UD), Aldon Smith, DE (RS Soph., 1st-2nd), Zaviar Gooden, OLB (RS Soph., 3rd-5th), T.J. Moe, WR (Soph.), Andrew Wilson, ILB (Fr.)
Iowa: Adrian Clayborn, DE (Sr., 1st), Christian Ballard, DT (Sr., 2nd-4th), Karl Klug, 3-4 DE (Sr., 4th-5th), Ricky Stanzi, QB (Sr., 4th-6th), Allen Reisner, TE (Sr., 5th-6th), Brett Greenwood, FS (6th-7th), Jeremiha Hunter, OLB (6th-UD), Ryan Donahue, P (Sr., 7th), Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, WR (Sr., ?), Tyler Sash, SS (Jr., 2nd-3rd), Shaun Prater, CB (Jr., 3rd-5th), Broderick Binns, DE (Jr., 5th-7th), Mike Daniels, DT (Jr., 5th-7th), Riley Reiff, OT (RS Soph., 1st-2nd), James Morris, ILB (Fr.)
3k's Rams pick: Adrian Clayborn, DE - Iowa
I mocked Clayborn to the Rams half a year ago. I'd still be more than happy with that.
Wed., Dec. 29th
E. Carolina v. Maryland: Military Bowl (Washington, DC), 2:30pm ET, ESPN
ECU: Dwayne Harris, WR (Sr., 3rd-5th), Willie Smith, OT (Sr., 7th-UD), Emanuel Davis, CB (Jr., 4th-5th), Lance Lewis, WR (Jr., 4th-6th), Dominique Davis, QB (Jr., 7th-UD), Michael Brooks, DT (Soph.), Justin Jones, TE (Fr.)
Maryland: Da'Rel Scott, RB (Sr., 5th-7th), Alex Wujciak, ILB (Sr., 6th-UD), Adrian Moten, OLB (Sr., 7th-UD), Torrey Smith, WR (Jr., 2nd-4th), Kenny Tate, FS (Jr., 2nd-4th), Demetrius Hartsfield, OLB (RS Soph., 3rd-4th), Danny O'Brien, QB (Fr.)
3k's Rams pick: Torrey Smith, WR - Maryland
If anyone thinks they're getting a #1 WR in Torrey Smith, they're just wrong. As noted in his scouting report at Mocking the Draft, he's not advanced enough as a WR in terms of his technique and his hands are very suspect. Still, with his speed, concentration down the sidelines and his ability as a special teams return prospect, he's someone that makes specific sense for the Rams. With a possession receiver in Clayton, burner options in Avery and Smith, a YAC man in Brandon Gibson, and flashers like Amendola and Gilyard, Bradford would have to be smiling going into camp next year.
Illinois v. Baylor: Texas Bowl (Houston, TX), 6:00pm ET, ESPN
Illinois: Martez Wilson, ILB (Jr., 1st-2nd), Mikel LeShoure, RB (Jr., 2nd-3rd), Corey Liuget, DT (Jr., 2nd-4th), Jeff Allen, OT (6th-UD), Justin Staples, OLB (RS Soph., 3rd-5th), Graham Pocic, C/G (RS Soph., 4th-5th), Terry Hawthorne, CB (Soph.), Akeem Spence, DT (Fr.), Nathan Scheelhaase, QB (Fr.)
Baylor: Phil Taylor, 3-4 NT (Sr., 2nd-3rd), Danny Watkins, OT (Sr., 3rd-4th), Jay Finley, RB (Sr., 7th-UD), Philip Blake, C (Jr., 5th-7th), Kendall Wright, WR (Jr., 6th-UD), Robert Griffin, QB (RS Soph., 5th-UD), Josh Gordon, WR (Soph.), Chris McAllister, ILB (Fr.), Tevin Elliott, DE (Fr.)
3k's Rams pick: Corey Liuget, DT - Illinois
This was a tough pick with so many great role players and potential starters in this game. I leaned toward Staples initially, but he's still molding his athleticism into an OLB mold. If he gets there, he could be special, but he's got plenty of work to do. So looking away from Staples, I've got to go with Corey Liuget. Taylor's too squat in the gut to play a 4-3 DT, and he's struggled with the weight issue for a while. It's hard for NT's to transition to the NFL with so much weight, because the strength that makes them special in college isn't as much of an advantage in the NFL; moreover, as that mismatch in strength nears even, the athleticism and agility gap NT's face widens (see: Terrence Cody). So I'll go with Liuget who developed some secondary moves this year in the three games I saw him in this year, though they're not very dependable as of yet. If he can add a rip or swim to his bull rush move which works well in the Big 10 (but won't get him as much success in the NFL), he could be a great piece on an NFL D-line.
Oklahoma St. v. Arizona: Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX), 9:15pm ET, ESPN
OSU: Kendall Hunter, RB (Sr., 2nd-4th), Ugo Chinasa, DE (Sr., 5th-7th), Andrew McGee, CB (Sr., 7th-UD), Orie Lemon, ILB (Sr., 7th-UD), Levy Adcock, OT (Jr., 3rd-4th), Grant Gardner, C/G (Jr., 5th-6th), Markelle Martin, SS (Jr., 5th-7th), Brandon Weeden, QB (7th-UD), Justin Blackmon, WR (RS Soph., 1st-2nd), Shaun Lewis, OLB (Fr.)
Arizona: Brooks Reed, 3-4 OLB (Sr., 3rd-5th), Ricky Elmore, DE (Sr., 4th-6th), Adam Grant, OT (Sr., 7th-UD), Nic Grigsby, RB (Sr., 7th-UD), Colin Baxter, C/G (Sr., 7th-UD), Nick Foles, QB (Jr., 1st-2nd), Juron Criner, WR (Jr., 5th-6th), Terrence Miller, TE/WR (Soph.), Justin Washington, DT (Fr.)
3k's Rams pick: Kendall Hunter, RB - Oklahoma St.
Shocked it's not Blackmon? Don't be. About a month ago, I said on Turf Show Radio that the Rams shouldn't take a WR in the first two rounds. It's a hard statement to cling to if Blackmon or Julio Jones are available, but the more I think about how to best improve the Rams' long term chances at success, the more it makes sense to me. In Hunter, the Rams get a sprinter. He's an absolute change of pace back. He can be very effective in passing situations. He's healthy, and with his vision, he can change the momentum of a game in a single play. But he has no power and no leverage. He can't pass block worth a damn. And his vertical acceleration doesn't translate laterally. I'd be surprised if someone takes him in the second round, but if he's there in the third? He could be the most sensible backup option the Rams have ever had to spell Steven Jackson.