Since the Rams aren't one of the four teams so lucky to still be playing football (sad voice: one day...), they've turned their attentions to evaluating prospects at the 2013 East-West Shrine game.
You've probably noticed practice reports throughout the week, (or you were alerted by our own turpinforpresident) but here are some names to keep an eye on, mostly because the Rams are doing the exact same:
Will Pericak, DE, Colorado
Pericak is a high motor player out of Colorado. He's been making some headlines during practice, impressing scouts. He redshirted in 2008 and has started every game since, notching honorable mention all-conference honors every year along the way.
He may not display elite athleticism, but he is someone to keep your eye on. Here is what the scouts are saying about him.
Pericak isn't an elite athlete but is country strong, showing the ability to knock opponents back onto their heels with good upper body strength and developing hand play -- traits that could serve him well as a rotational defensive tackle or 3-4 defensive end.
Pericak was probably my favorite defensive linemen from either practice today. I hadn’t seen him play much before this, but he looked the part of a 3 tech defensive tackle and showed an impressive motor and strong, active hands. He was a handful for every interior offensive lineman I saw him go up against 1 on 1.
At his current projection, he'd be a 7th rounder at best, most likely a UDFA.
Micah Hyde, CB/FS, Iowa
Hyde is a 2nd day prospect out of Iowa. One thing to notice about Hyde is that he spent time as both a corner and a free safety in 2011. Yes, the same safety position the Rams currently employ Craig Dahl for. He's known for his zone coverage:
Hyde has excellent size and length for the next level. He uses those things to cover up receivers, and it is difficult for quarterbacks to get the ball around him. The senior is an ideal corner to defend against big receivers in the red zone.
The biggest coverage strength for Hyde is his zone ability. He has nice instincts and is intelligent. Hyde picks up and releases receivers well while covering a lot of ground. Offenses don't catch him out of position, and he is extremely reliable to defend his part of the field.
Hyde's zone-coverage skills, intelligence, run defense and size make him a potential fit at free safety.
Hyde had an arrest this last year, so it might have hurt his stock. He's not known for man coverage, so it's going to be interesting to see how he performs in the game.
Nathan Williams, LB, Ohio State
Williams has had his share of medical and legal issues as well. He was arrested for shoplifting in 2008 and had a terrible knee injury in 2011. He looks to be at full strength again, and his performance in the off season will be critical to whether or not teams draft or sign him. He led the team in sacks in 2010, his junior year (2011 medical redshirt).
Lining up mostly in a two-point stance off the edge, Williams has a tweener skill-set and lacks a natural position, but if he continues to work his way back to full health, Williams could earn a draftable grade between now and April
Williams is most likely an UDFA because of his medical issues.
Earl Watford, OT, James Madison
Small school project alert! Watford has been decent in practice, showing some things NFL teams would like in an offensive lineman. Still, small school prospects always come at a cost- they aren't NFL ready. That's exactly the knock on Watford, who is a project player:
[Watford] has the naturally quick feet, and works hard to get hand placement, but his block adjustment technique, his struggles to open his hips after beaten laterally, and overall having the decisiveness in his block technique decision making is evident. Lots of upside and I know scouts like him a lot, but he’s not quite NFL ready based on today’s practice.
Watford was the top-rated offensive lineman for the Dukes, starting all 11 games while also serving as a team captain. Watford earned four top team All-America honors from The Walter Camp Foundation, American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press and The Sports Network. Also a First Team All-CAA selection for the second consecutive season, he allowed just one sack on the season while, under extremely stringent linemen grading, grading out 80 percent or higher six times and 90 percent or better twice.
Watford is ranked as the 9th overall guard prospect in the draft by NFL Draft Scout.
Melvin White, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette
White is a big (literally) cornerback prospect for the Ragin' Cajuns. Before I continue, let me say, what an AWESOME name for a team. White is a physical corner, but he didn't have the best success with turnovers:
With the success of Seattle's big cornerbacks, White will get plenty of looks early in the draft. He's a big cornerback at 6-foot-3 and can use his long arms to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. White may not have had any interceptions this season, but that's partially due to teams avoiding the receivers he covered.
Depending on how he plays and his how he measures out, White could easily be in play during the draft.
Xavier Brewer, CB, Clemson
Brewer is a lightning fast corner out of Clemson, who also has experience playing as safety. This will be a very important game for Brewer, going up against some good competition. Clemson's secondary has been terrible.
Josh Johnson, CB, Purdue
Purdue also had a weak secondary, but Johnson has had a productive career there. He had a all conference honorable mention in 2012. He's been inconsistent, but has shown flashes:
Spotty but very good when on his game.
There are certainly some names that are intriguing in the list, so be sure to watch out for their names. Now, if you'll excuse me, I just met this wonderful woman named Lennay Kekua online. Wish me luck!