So many prospects, so little time.
(NOTE: Draft stock reflects where players would be drafted were they to come out for this year's draft. Obviously, there are "risers" who would be late picks this year that could come on for their senior years, but that's not the intent here. It's just to give you names to look out for over the next few weeks. Non-eligible prospects won't have a round grade. Potential first or second round picks regardless of class are in bold.)
Thu., Dec. 30th
Army v. SMU: Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas, TX), 12:00pm ET, ESPN
Army: Josh McNary, OLB (Sr., 7-UD)
SMU: Aldrick Robinson, WR (Sr., 6th-UD), Kevin Beachum, G (Jr., 6th-UD), Margus Hunt, DE (Soph.)
3k's Rams pick: Uh...
Honestly, I'd probably just trade out if these were my only options. I do like Mad Margus, though. An Estonian junior track and field beast? Why not.
Kansas St. v. Syracuse: New Era Pinstripe Bowl (New York City, NY), 3:20pm ET, ESPN
Kansas St.: Daniel Thomas, RB (Sr., 2nd-4th), Tysyn Hartman, CB/S (Jr., 4th-6th), Brandon Harold, DE (RS Soph., 4th-5th), Ty Zimmerman, S (Fr.)
Syracuse: Delone Carter, RB (Sr., 3rd-5th), Doug Hogue, OLB (Sr., 5th-6th), Ryan Bartholomew, C/G (Sr., 6th-UD), Derrell Smith, ILB (Sr., 7th-UD), Mike Holmes, CB (Sr., 7th-UD), Nick Provo, TE (Sr., 7th-UD), Mikhail Marinovich, DE (Jr., 6th-UD), Ryan Nassib, QB (Jr., 7th-UD), Chandler Jones, DE (RS Soph.?, 4th-7th), Alec Lemon, WR (Soph.), Justin Pugh, OT (RS Fr.?), Marquis Spruill, OLB (Fr.)
3k's Rams pick: Brandon Harold, DE - KSU
Slim pickings, part two. Luckily, I saw Harold in action three times this season: against UCLA to open, against Nebraska in early October and against North Texas to close. All three times, I took notice. He's not a game changer. He's not a combine killer. But he combines athleticism and above average power for his size (6'5", 260 lbs.) to success. Sure, he needs another year in college ball, but if Harold does come out and if the Rams are going to take a shot on a late DE (like George Selvie), Harold makes sense to me.
N. Carolina v. Tennessee: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
(Nashville, TN), 6:40pm ET, ESPN
UNC: Bruce Carter*, OLB (Sr., 1st-2nd), Marvin Austin*, DT (Sr., 1st-3rd), Deunta Williams, FS (Sr., 2nd-3rd), Quan Sturdivant, ILB (Sr., 2nd-4th), Greg Little*, WR (Sr., 3rd-5th), Kendric Burney, CB (Sr., 3rd-5th), Charles Brown*, CB (Sr., 6th-7th), Da'Norris Searcy, SS (Sr., 7th-UD), T.J. Yates, QB (Sr., 7th-UD), Robert Quinn*, DE (Jr., 1st-2nd), Zach Brown, OLB (Jr., 3rd-4th), Quinton Coples, DE (Jr., 3rd-5th), Tydreke Powell, DT (Jr., 4th-6th), Dwight Jones, WR (Jr., 5th-7th), Jonathan Cooper, G (RS Soph., 4th-6th), Donte Paige-Moss, DE (Soph.), Erik Highsmith, WR (Soph.), Kevin Reddick, ILB (Soph.), James Hurst, OT (Fr.), Tre Boston, CB (Fr.), Josh Adams, WR (Fr.),
* - Carter is out with an ACL injury, Austin was kicked off the team. Little and Quinn were declared permanently ineligible, and Charles Brown is ineligible for this season, though he has one year of eligibility so he can decide to return.
Tennessee: Luke Stocker, TE (Sr., 2nd-3rd), Denarius Moore, WR (Sr., 6th-7th), Ben Martin, DE (Sr., 7th-UD)*, Tauren Poole, RB (Jr., 6th-UD), Malik Jackson, DE (Jr., 6th-UD), Montori Hughes, DT (Soph.), Dallas Thomas, OT (Soph.), Janzen Jackson, FS (Soph.), Tyler Bray, QB (Fr.), Justin Hunter, WR (Fr.), Eric Gordon, CB (Fr.), Da'Rick Rogers, WR (Fr.)
* - Martin is out for the season with an Achilles injury.
3k's Rams pick: Robert Quinn, DE - UNC
Now we start getting into the games with tons of prospects, and picking one out for the Rams is tough. Certainly, Bruce Carter's tenacity makes sense as a defensive upgrade. Zach Brown has really excelled this year at OLB as well. Denarius Moore wouldn't be a bad Day 3 pick either. But Quinn's pass rushing ability makes me wonder what could be in 2011. To add a force like Quinn at DE (and maybe an upgrade at DT) would suggest a greater ability to get QB pressure with a four-man rush. If the Rams can do that with Spags' coaching ability, the sky's the limit.
Nebraska v. Washington: Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
(San Diego, CA), 10:00pm ET, ESPN
Nebraska: Prince Amukamara, CB (Sr., 1st), Pierre Allen, DE (Sr., 3rd-4th), Niles Paul, WR (Sr., 4th-5th), Mike McNeill, TE (Sr., 4th-6th), Roy Helu, RB (Sr., 5th-6th), Eric Hagg, SS (Sr., 5th-7th), Alex Henery, K (Sr., 6th-7th), Keith Williams, G (Sr., 6th-UD), DeJon Gomes, FS (Sr., 7th-UD), Jared Crick, DT (Jr., 2nd-3rd), Alfonzo Dennard, CB (Jr., 3rd-5th), Lavonte David, OLB/ATH (Jr., 3rd-6th), Jermarcus Hardrick, OT (Jr., 4th-7th), Baker Steinkuhler*, DT (RS Soph., 4th-5th), Cameron Meredith, DE (RS Soph., 3rd-4th), Rex Burkhead, RB (Soph.), Taylor Martinez, QB/WR (Fr.)
* - Steinkuhler has been suspended for this game for a DUI.
Washington: Jake Locker, QB (Sr., 1st-2nd), Mason Foster, OLB (Sr., 3rd-4th), Nate Williams, SS (Sr., 6th-7th), Cody Habben, OT (Sr., 7th-UD), Jermaine Kearse, WR (Jr., 5th-7th), Chris Polk, RB (RS Soph., 3rd-4th), Desmond Trufant, CB (Soph.)
3k's Rams pick: Lavonte David, OLB - Nebraska
Over Prince Amukamara, Niles Paul, Jared Crick, Cameron Meredith (who has 'stache power) and Chris Polk, I go with David here. He's been a production machine with nearly 150 tackles this season on a Suh-less defense. Still, with the underrated safety Hagg behind him, David has been a beast at the second level. I'd be more than willing to take a shot on him in the 4th, and if he's there later, we'd be stupid not to grab him.
Fri., Dec. 31st
S. Florida v. Clemson: Meineke Car Care Bowl (Charlotte, NC), 12:00pm ET, ESPN
USF: Terrell McClain, DT (Sr., 3rd-6th), Craig Marshall, DE (Sr., 5th-7th), John Lejiste, SS (RS Soph., 6th-7th), Sam Barrington, ILB (Soph.), Ryne Giddins, DE (Fr.), Devekeyan "DeDe" Lattimore, OLB (Fr.)
Clemson: DeAndre McDaniel, SS (Sr., 2nd), Jarvis Jenkins, DT (Sr., 2nd-3rd), Marcus Gilchrist, CB/FS (Sr., 4th-5th), Chris Hairston, OT (Sr., 4th-6th), Da'Quan Bowers, DE (Jr., 1st), Andre Branch, DE (Jr., 3rd-4th), Jaime Harper, RB (Jr., 3rd-5th), Brandon Thompson, DT (Jr., 5th-7th), David Smith, OG (Jr., 6th-UD), Dwayne Allen, TE (RS Soph., 2nd-4th), Dalton Freeman, C (RS Soph., 2nd -4th), Andre Ellington, RB (RS Soph., 2nd-4th), Jontahan Willard, OLB (RS Soph., 5th-7th), Malliciah Goodman, C (Soph.), Quandon Christian, OLB (Fr.)
3k's Rams pick: Andre Branch, DE - Clemson
The opposite of the slim pickings from the previous day's slate. Branch is a prime candidate IMO for the Rams here. Great size and power, solid first step, plus acceleration, good body shape - there's many, many more plusses (sp?) than minuses (sp?!). If we don't go DE on day 1 or 2, this would make sense to me.
Notre Dame v. Miami: Hyundai Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX), 2:00pm ET, CBS
Notre Dame: Ian Williams, DT (Sr., 4th-5th), Darrin Walls, CB (Sr., 6th-UD), Armando Allen, RB (Sr., 7th-UD), Michael Floyd, WR (Jr., 2nd), Kyle Rudolph*, TE (Jr., 2nd-3rd), Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE (Jr., 5th-7th), Darius Fleming, OLB (Jr., 6th-UD), Braxston Cave, C/G (Jr., 5th-UD), Manti Te'o, ILB (Soph.), Tyler Eifert, TE (Soph.), Cierre Wood, RB (Soph.), TJ Jones, WR (Fr.)
* - Rudolph is out for the season with a hamstring injury.
The U: Allen Bailey, DE (Sr., 2nd), Orlando Franklin, G (Sr., 2nd-3rd), Leonard Hankerson, WR (Sr., 2nd-4th), Colin McCarthy, ILB (Sr., 2nd-4th), Graig Cooper, RB (Sr., 6th-7th), Brandon Harris, CB (Jr., 1st-2nd), Sean Spence, OLB (Jr., 2nd-4th), Adewale Ojomo, DE (Jr., 4th-5th), Micanor Regis, DT (Jr., 6th-7th), Vaughn Telemaque, FS (RS Soph., 4th-5th), Marcus Forston, DT (Soph.), Ray Ray Armstrong, SS (Soph.), Brandon Washington, G (Soph.), Lamar Miller, RB (Fr.)
3k's Rams pick: Sean Spence, OLB - Miami
As much as I'd love to go after Miami CB Brandon Harris, Spence's game is to volatile to ignore. The biggest reason I know we won't take Spence? Pisa Tinoisamoa. If Pisa didn't make sense as an undersized SLB, Spence certainly doesn't at 5'11", 220 lbs. I worry more that he's going to be good somewhere else than that he'll burn out with the Rams.
Georgia v. C. Florida: AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN), 3:30pm ET, ESPN
Georgia: Clint Boling, G/OT (Sr., 3rd-4th), Akeem Dent, ILB (Sr., 5th-7th), Shaun Chapas, FB (Sr., 6th-7th), Kris Durham, WR (Sr., 7th-UD), A.J. Green, WR (Jr., 1st), Justin Houston, OLB (Jr., 1st-3rd), Ben Jones, C (Jr., 2nd), Cordy Glenn, G (Jr., 3rd-4th), Brandon Boykin, CB (Jr., 3rd-4th), Marcus Dowtin, ILB/OLB (Jr., 4th-6th), Caleb King, RB (Jr., 5th-6th), Blair Walsh, K (Jr., 5th-7th), DeAngelo Tyson, DT (Jr., 6th-7th), Jakar Hamilton, FS (7th-UD),
UCF: Jah Reid, OT (Sr., 5th-7th), Bruce Miller, ILB/OLB (Sr., 7th-UD), Darius Nall, DE (Jr., 5th-6th), Josh Robinson, CB (Soph.), Kemal Ishmael, FS (Soph.), Chris Martin, OT (Fr.), E.J. Dunston, DT (Fr.)
3k's Rams pick: Justin Houston, OLB - Georgia
I've said before, I don't think A.J. Green would be a great fit in our offense, but realistically, the fact that trumps any assessment is that Green won't be available when the Rams are on the clock. So pull him out of the discussion and Houston jumps out at me. He's a large specimen, and the obvious concern is whether or not he'll be "weighed down" in the NFL. I don't think he well. He's a smart player who has gotten better every year, working to ensure he can get into the backfield with ease. I really think he'd be a great fit at the Sam next to Laurinaitis.
S. Carolina v. Florida St.: Chick-fil-A Bowl (Atlanta, GA), 7:30pm ET, ESPN
S. Carolina: Cliff Matthews, DE (Sr., 3rd-5th), Jarriel King, OT/G (Sr., 3rd-5th), Weslye Saunders*, TE (Sr., 3rd-6th), Chris Culliver*, CB (Sr., 5th-7th), Ladi Ajiboye, DT (Sr., 6th-UD), Rokevious Watkins, G (Jr., 3rd-4th), Stephen Garcia, QB (Jr., 6th-UD), Devin Taylor, DE (RS Soph., 2nd-3rd), Tori Gurley, WR (RS Soph., 4th-6th), Alshon Jeffrey, WR (Soph.), Stephen Gilmore, CB (Soph.), DeVonte Holloman, SS (Soph.), D.J. Swearinger, FS (Soph.), Marcus Lattimore, RB (Fr.)
* - Saunders was dismissed from the team in September. Culliver's been out since Halloween with a torn pec.
FSU: Rodney Hudson, G (Sr., 1st-2nd), Christian Ponder*, QB (Sr., 1st-2nd), Markus White, DE (Sr., 4th-6th), Nigel Bradham, OLB (Jr., 3rd-4th), Andrew Datko, OT (Jr., 4th-5th), Bert Reed, WR (Jr., 7th-UD), Nick Moody, FS (RS Soph., 4th-5th), Brandon Jenkins, DE (Soph.), Greg Reid, CB (Soph.), Jacobbi McDaniel, DT (Soph.), Xavier Rhodes, CB (Fr.), Björn Werner, DE (Fr.)
* - Ponder should be able to play after missing the ACC Championship due to a minor surgical operation on his throwing arm.
3k's Rams pick: Devin Taylor, DE - S. Carolina
This is a great game if you like defensive end prospects. Matthews will get most of the attention for the Gamecocks, but Taylor's built in the top-tier mold. For the 'Noles, Markus White's the experienced leader on the line, but Brandon Jenkins and German-bred Björn Werner could form the best pass rushing tandem FSU's had in a long, long time. Since Taylor's eligible, I'll drop his name here. He's long and lanky, but could add plenty of weight to his frame - think Julius Peppers at UNC. I'd like to see him go back to school for another year to see if he can develop into a consensus 1st rounder along with Jenkins (and Mizzou's Aldon Smith) to form a great top tier of DE's for the 2012 draft. Still, if he does come out this year and is available for our second round pick, he'd be a risk-reward selection I could get behind.