FanPost

No Rhinestones Here: Top 5 Gems pt. 1

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via www.stlouisrams.com

I have decided to do another top 5 player count down. This time instead of doing one like the last where I talked about the top five most important Rams to this season, I will talk about the top five UDFA's. I believe we have some good ones. But only time will tell. So in the mean time, I figured I would keep a record of the one's I am watching most closely.

Over the course of the last two off-seasons, the Rams have managed to bring in more UDFA's than any other team in the NFL. I discussed it in a post recently (CLICK HERE FOR THE COALS AND DIAMONDS DISCUSSION!!!), and tried to make it very clear, the value of an UDFA is more than it seems.

Of all the players added post draft the last 16 months, there are 5 who I believe has what it takes to not only make the team, but begin a legit career in the very near future. But I also see guys who seem to be diamonds in disguise, aka rhinestones. But that's for another list. Lets begin...

1. Benny Cunningham

Benny Cunningham vs Georgia Tech 2012 (via xuesac84)

Benny Cunningham vs Louisiana-Monroe 2012 (via xuesac84)

Since the first day I scouted this kid I have been banging the table for him. I wholeheartedly believe he us something special. Some have shown that they disagree, but I am standing strong with this one, he will be someone who surprises, I am convinced. I said so HERE (CLICK LINK) and in a few other posts, as well countless comments, and now I am saying it here again, three years from now Benny Cunningham will make St. Louis Rams' scouts look like genius'.

Forget the Georgia Tech game in which some said I was "wrong" with my analysis because his line was simply "opening huge holes", just look at any game. The kid ran the same way regardless of the opponent. Something about scouting that gets overlooked by fans far too often, you're not supposed to look for the obvious things, you look for the small things.

Cunningham's line did indeed do a wonderful job in that game, but their superb blocking had nothing to do with his top notch NFL running back type of burst through those holes. And once through the hole the ability to make people miss, with very very good lateral agility. And the power to run anyone over. Or even just the ability and leg drive to run though not only arm tackles but perfect form tackles as well. How about his vision and ability to set up blocks, and amazing job at finding and exploiting the cutback lanes. But the most impressive thing I saw with Cunningham, was his pro day.

Cunningham tore his patella tendon October 13, 2012. On April 22, 2013, he completed a full pro day, running 4.51, in front of a whopping two scouts. By my count, that is six months nine days. I have seen multiple reports of him running in the high 4.3s low 4.4s pre-injury. Judging by the tape I would say 4.38-4.42. And 26 reps on the bench is nice as well. These aren't numbers you typically see of someone his stature (5'10" 210). 4.48-4.55 and 17-20 reps seems more accurate for the norm. He was better than the norm and not even 100%. The reason two scouts (Rams and Giants) showed up for his one man pro day, is because no one, and I mean no one thought he would be ready to perform at a pro day, yet alone be playing in the preseason, myself included. I thought he would start the year on the PUP list.

Now let me get to the point. When you take the fact he has been able to come back as fast as he has with an injury that takes a legit full year for most to bounce back from, it shows top NFL player level type of work ethic. Then add in his top level athleticism and strength. And sprinkle all those little things mentioned earlier, like leg drive, vision, lateral agility, etc... and you are talking about a future monster. I will give you two other guys who displayed amazing work ethics and mixed it with top level talent, Adrian Peterson and Jamal Charles, and look at their results. Not saying he will be one of them, but I am saying keep your eyes open and ears alert, because he is bringing something special, and only time will tell how special.

BENNY CUNNINGHAM PRO DAY (via Erik Bartlett)

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