Last year, the St. Louis Rams scheduled a number of pre-draft visits with players. With the exception of Sam Bradford, no player making a spring trip to Rams Park ended up wearing a Rams jersey when the 2010 NFL Draft as over. Private visits and workouts give the weeks leading up to the draft a little extra excitement, fueling media and fan speculation while giving teams the opportunity to check out the players and engage in a little gamesmanship with rivals. As for how much to read into it, well, that's up for some debate. Each team handles them differently.
That the Rams would have drafted anyone other than Bradford with the first overall pick of the draft seems unimaginable now. It seemed virtually unimaginable last year after Adam Schefter made his famous guarantee.
Nevertheless, potential top picks came and went for some one-on-one time with GM Billy Devaney, head coach Steve Spagnuolo, et al. DTs Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, QB Jimmy Clausen, RB Ryan Matthews and even WR Dez Bryant, who probably wore a belt, were brought in for some quality time...and maybe, just maybe to throw up a bit of a smokescreen. A pre-draft visit with Colt McCoy added to the obfuscation. At the Combine, Devaney talked openly about how there was never any doubt in their minds that Bradford would be the pick, once his shoulder checked out.
None of the other Rams picks from last year's draft saw the inside of Rams Park until after April 23, 2010, the start of the draft.
Prospect travel arrangements did offer a little insight into the Rams draft thinking. Two tight ends made the trip, Clay Harbor from Missouri State and Ed Dickson from Oregon. When teams are allowed just 30 private visits/workouts with a pool of hundreds, it's telling the Rams had private time with two tight ends. They also had five defensive backs and four defensive ends in for private visits. Since these visits/workouts aren't all officially released by the team, it's worth noting that there could have been other players in whose name never made it beyond the walls.
Miles of game tape, the Combine, outside interviews, etc. give the Rams and any other team plenty of opportunity to set their draft board for players available at those spots. Some motivation for the private time is probably to be slot their draft board for potential trades, in addition to the old smokescreen trope.
The trend may be a little different with the 14th pick in the draft. I suppose we'll know soon enough.