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Rams hunt for a running back continues, prompting some "what ifs"

Last year, the St. Louis Rams took some heat from fans and pundits for not addressing the team's need at backup running back. Uber-back Steven Jackson was susceptible to injury, so the hand wringing went, and the Rams had nobody behind him to fill the void should he be lost for any stretch of time. Fortunately for the Rams, Jackson stayed mostly healthy last year, losing some time to a groin injury.

Nevertheless, Billy Devaney and Co. aren't going to take their chances that lightening strikes twice. The team has been active in looking at running backs prospects through draft evaluation season. A report at the National Football Post today links the Rams with Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure. In the same piece Leshoure expresses his belief in teams using a running back tandem. 

Leshoure would be an early round pick, probably a second round pick maybe even late first. Read nothing into the report. Teams show interest in almost every player this time of year. Still, the idea of the Rams picking a RB early raises a few questions:

  • Fewer carries reasonably translates to a longer career for Steven Jackson, but would he be happy with a reduced role in the offense? 
  • With so many complementary backs available in the middle rounds and the Rams having Steven Jackson under contract, wouldn't it make more sense to target a RB later in the draft? 
  • If the Rams would consider Leshoure, would they consider Alabama's Mark Ingram, who would be an option at pick #14? 
  • What plans do the Rams have for Jackson in the long term? Leshoure is a very similar player to Jackson. If they did draft him, you would have to wonder if Jackson was in the plans for 2012. 

Speaking of running backs, Tony Pauline reports on another RB the Rams have shown some interest in: West Virgina's Noel Devine. The smallish RB ran a 4.43 at his pro day. Concerns about his durability remain, and he may not get picked until the very last round...or end up an undrafted free agent. 

Maryland RB Da'Rel Scott wowed at his pro day yesterday. And what about Torrey Smith? He helped his draft stock for sure. From the Draft Breakdown report:

The drills used were designed to see the things that Smith hadn't done much of at Maryland, which is basically everything but deep routes. Scouts spent plenty of time with Smith doing various drills that made him catch the ball at odd angles, run sharp cut routes, comeback routes and even display his blocking techniques. Smith completed the drills without dropping a single pass, which was no easy task. It wasn't a team mate of Smiths' that was throwing the ball his way; it was a scout. These guys weren't making things easy on him.

In Columbia today, all eyes were firmly fixed on QB Blaine Gabbert who impressed all. DE Aldon Smith also had a solid outing, according to ESPN 101's Tony Softli who said that Smith had "had a quick but impressive workout. Huge upside, explosive first step and extremely athletic. First round talent."