Lockout, reduced salaries...nothing's keeping teams from doing their exhaustive research for the 2011 NFL Draft. It's that time of year, and as the draft gets closer, teams will be talking even more with prospects. To help keep a handle on all the reports, we're setting up this list of the St. Louis Rams draft interest tracker.
The list is broken down in three categories: private visits/workouts, notable pro days and one-on-one conversations. It's important to remember that this list really says nothing about who the Rams will be drafting. Teams may spend as much time in visits with late-round prospects filling in holes in their evaluations as they do with potential first rounders, who have typically have miles of tape to watch. Still, it is an interesting list to keep track of as we head into the third quarter of draft prep.
We'll keep this list updated as the days go by.
UPDATED, 4/2/11 by VanRam.
Private visits and workouts
Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor - The Rams had a private workout with Watkins on March 17. People love his moxie, and if he weren't going to turn 27 before the start of the 2011 season, he might be considered the best guard in the draft. Has just two years of DI college experience. Early second round pick.
Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri - As far as we know, Smith is the only sure fire first round pick that the Rams have had a workout or visit with this spring. They have a visit scheduled with Smith. Most felt like Smith performed well at his pro day, consistent with his game tape. Smith is very much a viable option with the Rams 14th overall pick.
Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh - Rackley visits the Rams on April 13. Another college tackle who projects as an interior lineman in the NFL because of his footwork. Rackley's ability is a little more in-line with Jacob Bell's than a "road grader" right guard because he does pull well and demonstrates a propensity for pulling. We compared Rackley with John Greco in this post. Rackley is projected as third or fourth round pick.
Jock Sanders, KR, West Virginia - A jack of all trades, Sanders saw most of his snaps at wide receiver with the Mountaineers, part of an offense that featured a similarly bantam running back, Noel Devine. He's quick and elusive, fitting into that Dexter McCluster mold of player, complete with the questions about his size. In fact, that's who Sanders compared himself to. Sanders is a seventh round pick or even a free agent. Remember, these draft visits/workouts in some cases are all about prepping for the 8th round of undrafted rookie free agents. The Rams put Sanders through a workout.
Jeron Johnson, S, Boise State - It's a private workout for Johnson and the Rams. A three-year starter at Boise State, JJ is most likely a strong safety in the NFL. Nevertheless, he is noted for his ability to read plays and cover the middle part of the field, something the Rams need in a safety. Johnson has questions about his size, considering he plays a very physical style. He's considered a 5th or 6th round pick.
Jaiquawn Jarrett, S Temple - Named his team MVP and making frequent appearances on the honor roll, the Owls' free safety plays a versatile game, covering slot receivers and plugging the run. Remember, the Rams are pretty open about how they expect their safeties to fill both roles. Jarrett is a likely a 4th or 5th round pick.
Alex Green, RB, Hawaii - A quick, between the tackles bruiser, the Rams have a private visit scheduled with Green. Since the Combine, Green has been generating some buzz and moving up draft boards. He catches the ball well, and played in a spread offense for the Rainbows.
Notable pro day workouts
The Rams have had scouting personnel at any number of pro days so far this spring. It's not all that significant. However, when a position coach is working out a specific player, it is definitely worth mentioning.
Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech - Rams RB coach Sylvester Croom was on hand Allen's pro day, throwing him passes and putting him through some position drills. Few question Allen's skills running between the tackles, but they wanted to see his pass catching ability. He blocked plenty in college. Allen is seen as a 4th or 5th round pick.
Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland - Receivers coach Nolan Cromwell ventured out to College Park where he put Smith through a workout. Smith is considered by many to be the third or fourth best receiver available in the draft, and probably a second round pick. It's not out of the question that it would take a trade down late in the first or earlier in the second to draft him.
Not quite a private workout, these are conversations that team representatives have had with players at pro days, the Combine or other events.
Charles Clay, RB, Tulsa - A multi-faceted running back, listed as a FB by many pundits, that the Rams talked to at the Combine. He can line up at RB, FB, TE, etc.
Robert Sands, S, West Virginia - Another Mountaineer, Sands is a giant at safety, measuring 6'4" 217 lbs, he's almost more like a linebacker.
Sam Acho, DE, Texas - Here's a guy whose draft stock is all over the place, at one time seen as a fringe first rounder, now more likely a third rounder. Does he have the skills to be an effective three-down defensive end in the NFL? Some wonder exactly what kind of skill set he does have and what role he'd play.
Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina - Once considered a sure-fire top 15 pick, Austin's stock took a big hit thanks to a suspension last year. He still has talent, but needs work after missing a year of seasoning. The Rams talked to Austin at the Shrine Game this year. He's probably a second round pick.
Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida - The Rams definitely have a connection to South Florida having picked two players, CB Jerome Murphy and DE George Selvie, from that school in last year's draft. They talked with McClain at the Shrine Game too.
Josh Thomas, CB, Buffalo - A small school player the Rams spent some time with at the Shrine Game. Thomas is a hitter, a physical player. He's raw and could be a seventh round pick or even a free agent.
Nick Bellore, LB, Central Michigan - All the character you could want in a football player, most see him as an ILB in a 3-4 defense, but he knack for the ball could make him a fit for all three spots in a 4-3. Here's more on Bellore from the Combine.
Dwayne Harris, WR, East Carolina - This small school player made waves in practice at the Senior Bowl with a knack for getting YAC. He a long history of good hands. Probably an undrafted free agent.
Ryan Lincoln, WR, Texas A&M Kingsville - Lincoln didn't make an appearance at the prospect all-star games, but the Rams thought enough of his tape to contact his agent.
Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State - Danger. Hunter's draft stock is red hot, and many now see him as a second round pick...for good reason. Hunter was one of three running backs the Rams showed interest in at the Senior Bowl.
Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia - Another scatback type with big questions about his small size. He does have speed, but could still be a late round or free agent addition. Tony Pauline noted the Rams' interest in him recently and they talked with him at the Senior Bowl.
Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky - Another smaller, scatback type player. Locke has shown a knack for blocking too and catches the ball well out of the backfield. His speed and elusiveness has been compared to Chris Johnson. Comes with injury concerns though.