Scouts and staff from the St. Louis Rams spent some time in Mobile this week checking out the 2011 NFL Draft prospects at the Senior Bowl. Doubtlessly their notes are filled with thoughts on all kinds of players from the week's events. Three running backs working out this week were of particular interest to the Rams, according to Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch.
Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter, West Virginia's Noel Devine and Kentucky's Derrick Locke "caught their attention." All three backs fit the profile of smaller, speedier guys, likely to be picked in the later part of the draft...a perfect complement to Steven Jackson.
Let's take a quick look at all three.
Kendall Hunter, 5'8" 200 lbs
Hunter has received the most attention of all three players this week. In fact, his and DeMarco Murray's names have probably gotten more ink than any other running back this week. Of all the backs listed here, Hunter would be the first off the board, probably in the third round, maybe fourth. He can catch the ball well out of the backfield and gets glowing review for his savvy on screen passes and draw plays. He could be a very interesting piece of the puzzle with Josh McDaniels calling plays for the Rams. Another plus, he showed a real willingness in pass blocking this week.
Noel Devine, 5'7" 160 lbs
That's not a typo. Devine weighed in for the Senior Bowl at just 160 lbs, which has hurt his draft stock in the eyes of some pundits. Devine possesses amazing speed. He's likely to run his 40 in the 4.3 range at the Combine and might even go faster under the right circumstances. Like Hunter, he's a weapon on screens and as a receiver. One scouting report notes that he's even dangerous on check down passes. Devine could be a round 4 pick, or he could be a round 7 pick...it all depends on how teams view his size. See if he packs on any more pounds before the Combine.
Derrick Locke, 5'8" 186 lbs
Like the others, Locke's strength is his speed, and his ability to get YAC, especially on the outside part of the field. Right now, he's a late round pick, but with his speed (potentially sub-4.3) he could shoot up draft boards. He does well blocking and shows a real tough side.
Needless to say, all three of these guys are kick returners too. Separating them is tough since they all have similar skill sets. Arguments about size and durability will be the key to their draft stock.
Just reading the scouting reports and notes from the Senior Bowl all three of these guys have lots of potential paired with Steven Jackson.