A few more 2011 NFL Draft prospects that the St. Louis Rams have visits scheduled with surfaced today in a report from Jim Thomas at the Post-Dispatch. Draft visits and workouts dominate the draft prep schedule for GM Billy Devaney and Co. this week, as they prepare for the draft which is now less than three weeks away. Of the new names on the private visit list, do they reveal anything about the direction the Rams plan to take in this year's draft?
Two running backs on the list make for the most interesting insight into the thinking at Rams Park. Stevan Ridley from LSU Is one player coming in this week. Heading into the spring, prevailing wisdom said that the Rams would pursue a Darren Sproles-type back, a speedy, outside runner who can catch passes and be the complement to Steven Jackson. Getting a back like that is still a very distinct possibility, but Ridley is the fourth RB the Rams have shown interest in who profiles at the other end of the spectrum, a powerful, between-the-tackles running back.
So what's the thinking here? As 3k mentioned during a recent episode of Turf Show Radio, SJ39 is one of the best pass catchers in the league, one of the best so-called third down backs playing the game right now. Why take him off the field in those situations? In 2006, Jackson caught a stunning 90 passes. He can be a devastating receiving threat. Getting a power back to handle some of the short yardage situations and some of the other carries on first or second down, frees Jackson up to line up in the slot more or move around in other positions. It also saves some wear and tear on Jackson.
The other RB Thomas mentions in his report is Daniel Thomas from Kansas State. Thomas is a tough, physical runner who had a little higher profile during his two years with Wildcats. Hamstring injuries have hurt his offseason workouts, but he didn't miss a game in college. Once considered one of the top three backs in the draft, opinions now differ on Thomas, with some seeing him as nothing more than a physical backup. For others, he could be an NFL starter. He also caught passes in college. Like Ridley and the other physical backs the Rams have looked at, the advantage with Thomas would be to take some of the more traditional running back duties and allow the Rams to use SJ39 for his incredible versatility, i.e. receiver. The Rams were one of several teams at Thomas' late pro day last week; consider this a second date.
Thomas adds another name to the list at wide receiver, Raymond Webber from Arkansas Pine Bluff. You won't find his name on many draftnik big boards, unless they're big Pine Bluff fans. Still, the 6'2" 213 lbs Webber topped the FCS in receiving stats last year with an amazing 101 catches, 1,429 yards and 10 TDs. He runs a 4.4 forty. Webber is a St. Louis native. And you may not find him on many draft lists, but he's had a ton of visits, with the Rams, 49ers, Seattle, etc. Seattle gave him the treatment too.