Long-time members of the community know that it's always draft season here at Turf Show Times, but this is that time of year where we really kick it into high gear when it comes to the NFL Draft. That starts this week with the East-West Shrine Game in Tampa Bay, the first of the so-called prospect all-star games.
The Shrine game features a bevy of mid-round prospects on both the East and West roster. A week of practices and Saturday's game usually vault a few players further up the draft boards, putting them on the radar. Last year, South Florida defensive tackle Terrell McClain boosted his draft stock here. Ditto North Carolina DT Marvin Austin, who began his image rehab here after his suspension at UNC. Two of the Rams' draft picks from 2011, Jermale Hines and Jonathan Nelson, played in the Shrine game last year. Both have since settled in with new teams.
So which players are worth watching this week?
Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas, 6'3" 217 lbs - Prior to a torn pateller tendon in 2010 - the same injury that's hobbled Mark Clayton - Childs looked like one of the top receivers in the country. Never considered a speedster, he'll be looking to prove that his injury hasn't completely compromised his ability to get down field with a long stride. He's a possession type in the mold of Austin Pettis, but unlike Pettis, he has shown an ability to pick up YAC and plays better off the line. He probably isn't a guy on the Rams' radar, unless they can snag him with a late-round pick and have him compete with the disappointing Pettis.
Jarius Wright. WR, Arkansas, 5'10" 180 lbs - Wright is probably one of the most watched prospects heading into the game because of his 4.3 speed. The Rams could certainly use a speedster in his mold. He'll need to show this week that he can also work from the outside, not just the slot.
Quentin Saulsberry, C, Mississippi State, 6'2" 300 lbs - He has experience all over the line, but made his mark in the middle. He's a phone booth guy, and needs to show that he has the power to hold his own on the inside at the pro level.
Markus Zusevics, OT, Iowa, 6'5" 300 lbs - Iowa linemen are a staple in the NFL. Zusevics can play either guard or tackle. His run blocking ability might get him moved to guard. He has good hands, and his weakness is against speed rushers.
Dominique Hamilton, DT, Missouri, 6'5" 305 lbs - He's a run stopper, and could get some attention as a nose tackle from 3-4 teams. Many believe he can easily add more weight. The Rams probably need more of a penetrating tackle on the inside, but they have to look at all the depth they can at the position.
DaJohn Harris, DT, USC, 6'4" 310 lbs - A guy who has shown some ability to disrupt in the middle. He'll have to show consistency this week.
We'll have lots more from the Shrine game this week.
(NOTE from 3k: Here are the rosters for quick reference)