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2011 NFL Draft: A look at the running backs visiting with the Rams this week

The St. Louis Rams added another running back to their pre-draft visit list, Clemson's Jamie Harper. He's the sixth running back that will visit Rams Park this week. Harper also fits a trend that we're seeing among the running backs the Rams are visiting with this week. 

Measuring 6'0" 230 lbs, Harper burned up the track with a 4.48 forty at his pro day. Big man, big speed, but he's obviously not in the mold of the smaller profile backs that dominated the conversation earlier in the offseason, when guys like Taiwan Jones, DeMarco Murray and Noel Devine were getting most of the attention. 

Harper lacks the raw power you might expect from a 230 lbs back, but he's elusive and quick enough to in tight quarters between the tackles. And that shouldn't imply he doesn't have power. He was the physical complement to C.J. Spiller. The NFP, which has him ranked fifth among running backs in this draft, also notes his ability as a receiver and blocker.

In short, Harper fits the mold of RBs we've been talking about all week, players that can carry more of the load on first and second downs, leaving Steven Jackson to work third downs, the outside and his magic as a receiver. Though Harper's receiving ability would be a real asset in terms of mixing up the Rams offense. 

Here's the list of running backs visiting Rams Park this week, all of whom fit the bill for that complementary role of a back who would free Jackson up to be more of a receiver than a between the tackles runner: Mark Ingram, Alabama; Mikel Leshoure, Illinois; Alex Green Hawaii; Stevan Ridley, LSU; and Daniel Thomas, Kansas State.

Some of those guys look like they could also be legitimate 20 carries per game backs, but that's not really necessary in today's pass-first NFL. And don't take these visits to mean that the Rams will be drafting one of these players. These visits are about setting draft boards, getting to know some of the prospects better and throwing up the occasional smoke screen.