Billy Devaney didn't offer much for anyone trying to read the 2011 NFL Draft tea leaves in his Tuesday chat with fans. However, there is at least one player, a defensive back, who has the Rams' GM "drooling." So which player is it? Let's try to figure it out using our own brand of shaky deductive logic.
The question specifically was about a defensive back that might be available in the second round that could contribute immediately as a starter.
Let's run through the different defensive back positions. Remember, this is pure speculation, especially going by a draft board other than the one at Rams Park. Teams grade players very different. For instance, the Bradley Fletcher pick in 2009 threw draft pundits a curveball.
Since safety is the most obvious need, that seems like a good place to start. And with a weak safety class in this year's draft, there are not many players on the list of potential second rounders. Earlier today we mentioned Rahim Moore from UCLA and Quinton Carter from Oklahoma. Opinions very on which one is the better pick, but conventional wisdom has both as the best available safeties this year. Either of those two would be the most obvious as far as safeties go.
A couple of sleeper names that could work their way into more universal second round consideration are also out there. Clemson S DeAndre McDaniel is athletic, can play the ball and the run. Some like him more as a strong safety, but he could probably play either spot in Spagnuolo's system. McDaniel also overcame a really rough childhood and early career character issues to become a model citizen and teammate. Here's the scouting report from Mocking the Draft, which speculates on McDaniels as a mid-second round pick.
A second name to watch is Iowa safety Tyler Sash. The Combine could go a long way toward settling the question of whether or not Sash can play FS at the NFL level. In college, though, he's got a solid track record in coverage and playing the ball, with 8 INTs over his last two years. The Iowa connection is key here. Bradley Fletcher was the last Iowa player the Rams drafted and the school has a reputation for producing defensive backs ready to compete in the pros.
And what about cornerback?
I think it's less likely for the Rams to draft a CB in the second round, though not impossible. This is much tougher one to try and nail down since this is a good year for cornerbacks in the draft. Miami CB Brandon Harris could be a second round guy. However, the buzz is already starting to build around his performance at the Combine. Harris certainly has the kind if "it" factor that could make a front office guy drool.
Virginia CB Ras-I Dowling is someone who could have a quick transition to the NFL. His draft stock took a hit when he missed the Senior Bowl. Still he has the size and ability that teams like to see, and he can play either man or zone with the smarts of a player beyond his years. I really like Dowling. He's also a guy that could get into the first round with a good Combine.
Corners area tough group to slot this year; there could be 8 or 9 second round picks and at least a dozen who could go in the first two rounds.