clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2012 NFL Draft: Ten Small School Prospects The Rams Should Know

GAINESVILLE FL - NOVEMBER 13: Janoris Jenkins #1 of the Florida Gators gets the crowd up during a game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 13 2010 in Gainesville Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE FL - NOVEMBER 13: Janoris Jenkins #1 of the Florida Gators gets the crowd up during a game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 13 2010 in Gainesville Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The 2012 NFL draft is creeping closer. Like every year, this draft offers some interesting prospects for the St. Louis Rams. Most of the time the discussion is focused, for now, on drafting Justin Blackmon or Matt Kalil, or trading down for a boatload of picks.

Those discussions are important, but that topic has been talked about for months. Basically, we know the Rams will do something with the number 2 pick, but what should the Rams do after that?

My friend Nick Martin came to me on Twitter, and asked me if I can make an article about small school prospects. I enlisted him to help me on this article. This is the final result of that collaboration.

Also, don't let the small school tag fool you, good players come from small schools all the time. It's not as uncommon as you might think, and some of the players on this list could become good starters.

Don't forget if you like this article please donate a follower to Nick Martin's twitter account .@Nmartin55

Janoris Jenkins- 5-10 190, North Alabama Lions- CB/KR/PR

(Invited to 2012 Combine)

It is a rarity to find FCS talent that is capable of being mentioned in the first round, but, Jenkins a former Florida Gator fits the bill. After three seasons at Florida, multiple team violations forced Jenkins to find another school. Janoris Jenkins took his talents to North Alabama where he made his presence known. As a lockdown defender, Jenkins could be put on an island and shut one half of the field down. He is a sure tackler and has instincts that cannot be taught. He is very quick and can recover when out of position. Another ability Jenkins has is his knack to field kicks and punts. Jenkins is elusive and has breakaway speed. Look for Jenkins to go in the middle of the 1st round after Claiborne

-Nick Martin

Alshon Jeffery vs. Janoris Jenkins (2010) (via MockDraftClub)

Ronnie Hillman 5-10/190 San Diego State- RB

(Invited to 2012 combine)

Yes, For those of you that remember, Marshall Faulk did play for San Diego State. I won't draw any comparisons between the two players, but I can see why people would. Rushing for more than 1,400 yards in both of his seasons as the starting running back. However, Hillman didn't turn up in big games in his career, there could be good reasons for that, but regardless it won't hurt his stock of being a 4th round pick. Hillman, more than likely won't be a great hall of fame running back, but he's a player that the Rams need on their team. A solid change of pace back, with good speed and has the potential to become a good third down running back or better.


Ronnie Hillman 2011 highlights (via bschmall95)

Trumaine Johnson- 6-2 204, University of Montana Grizzlies- CB

(Invited to 2012 Combine)

So I owe it to this post to give full disclosure, I was born and raised in Missoula, Montana, which is also where the University of Montana is located. I am an extremely die-hard Grizzly fan but, I am also very critical on evaluating the talent that is here. So I will give you my honest opinion of "Tru", because there are not many people who have seen as much of him as I have. Trumaine was recruited here to play corner. Montana was the only school to offer him a scholarship to play that position. He is the biggest signing that this program has ever landed. Trumaine was an anomaly in the FCS due to his size. He was often tested by smaller and faster receivers. Tru can cover with the best of them and rarely saw action his way because most coaches did not dare throw the ball at him. But, when they did, he made sure to let them know never to do it again. He can out jump most, he punishes people at the line of scrimmage and he can break on inside routes well, due to his length. Another facet of his game that is impressive is his ability to come off of the edge in run support. I cannot count how many times he flew off of the corner to de-cleat someone which in turn would cause an uproar over the 25,000 fans at Washington Grizzly stadium. Trumaine Johnson is a game changer, you have to scheme around him. But, he does have some deficiencies; he has a hard time getting off blocks, and in the 2011 playoffs against Sam Houston State he got embarrassed multiple times against play action. He also has a HUGE personality, like T.O. big….. Which in this small town was hard for some people to handle, but, I am sure it will not be a deterrent to NFL teams. Lastly I would like to point out that I have been saying this for months to watch out for this kid, long before Mr. McShay announced today that he was an under-the-radar type of guy. Jeff Fishers son Brandon, who is now on the Rams coaching staff was also a Griz, which gives our Rams a direct tie to this kid, so do not be surprised if somehow he makes it to the third round he ends up in horns.

-Nick Martin

Trumaine Johnson vs Central Arkansas 2011 (via phillyjimmyphilms)

Rico Wallace 6-3/210, Shenadoah- WR

(Not attending the combine)

Rico is from a really small school. A surprising small school for an NFL prospect. However, the silent assassin looks like he could be a solid NFL WR. In 10 games this year Wallace had 1241 yards and averaged 1241 receiving yards, In fact I would call him the Justin Blackmon of his division. Rico will probably have the biggest transition to make, when he goes to the NFL, but as a sixth or seventh round pick, he will be worth a try. He makes good adjustments when the ball is in the air, he was a playmaker, and he's the opposite of a diva.


Rico Wallace WR Shenandoah University unedited part 1 (via Cover3Reps)

J.C. Oram- 6-4 300, Weber State Wildcats- OG

(Not attending the 2012 Combine)

Mr. Consistent, also known as J.C. Oram played in 48 straight games and started 47 of those games. In 2011 Oram was named a consensus All-American and in the Big Sky Conference held on a pedestal for being an absolute brick against the pass. I have watched many games where Oram flat out wore defenders out due to his massive build. His biggest weakness was his run blocking but, coming into his senior year he made it a focal point to improve on. In 2011 he showed his dedication by becoming one of the conference’s best run blocker for one of the better running teams. This stonewall guard will be like most FCS players and probably get a look in the later rounds and given a shot at mini-camp.

-Nick Martin

Bobby Wagner OLB- 6'1, 240, Utah State- OLB

(Invited to the combine)

Besides Janoris Jenkins, Wagner is probably the player with the highest potential. Even though this man comes from a small school he can flat out play. Against Auburn this year he recorded 10 tackles and a sack. Wagner is always around the ball, this year he had 9 games where he had double digit tackles, one game he had 20 TACKLES. He also shined in the Senior Bowl, recording 7 tackles and an interception. He's good at blitzing, he fights off blocks, and has an eye for the ball. Out of every OLB that I have looked at this year, this guy excites me the most.


Bobby Wagner - LB - Utah State (via BrownsOrBust)

Josh Norman 6-1, 200, Coastal Carolina- CB

(Invited to 2012 combine)

This is a corner back that has been rising this offseason. He exploded on the scene with a week of great Shine Game practices and capped it off with a solid Senior Bowl. Norman has slowly been showing scouts that he can hang with the big boys.Norman is more of an zone corner than man, and sometimes he's a liability when it comes down to bringing a ball carrier down, but in his defense how many cornerbacks are good tacklers nowadays?Norman seems like he could develop into a solid corner and after last season, the Rams should add as many quality corners as they can.


Josh Norman Coastal Carolina highlights (via WPDENewsChannel15)

Asa Jackson- 5-11 188, Cal Poly Mustangs- CB/KR/PR

(Invited to 2012 Combine)

Asa Jackson can be defined as a quick (4.4 quick) ball hawk. With career stats of over 130 tackles and 8 picks, Jackson will be a late round gem for any team. Playing for a decent Mustang team, Asa lead the way. In this years’ senior bowl, Jackson showed that he has the ability to break up passes against bigger receivers. After swatting a ball away from UNC’s Dwight Jones, it is evident that Jackson can cover pretty much anything thrown at him. He also likes to hit, sometimes without wrapping up which is probably his biggest flaw but, needless to say he will be worth look late for multiple teams.

- Nick Martin

Asa Jackson College Highlights (via MrAsajackson)

Robert Turbin 5-10 210, Utah State Aggies- RB

(Attending the 2012 combine)

The last running back we talked about drew some loose comparisons to M. Faulk, so why not compare this running back to Steven Jackson. No I'm not comparing this guy to Steven Jackson, if anything I would label him a poor mans Steven Jackson. He breaks tackles and although he isn't the fastest running back he should be able to gain a good amount of yards after contact. I know everyone another running back who has a similar style as Jackson isn't huge on the Rams need list, but he could become the successor to Jackson. Jackson won't be a Ram forever, hell he could be off the team this time next year, if this runningback is available in the 5th or 6th round, the Rams should really think about adding him.

- T.Ram

Robert Turbin in BEAST MODE - Don't make him angry! (via USUNLV)

Gino Gradkowski- 6-3 295, Delaware Fighting Blue Hens- OL

(Not attending the 2012 Combine)

Little brother of NFL QB Bruce Gradkowski, Gino has made his mark in Delaware. After transferring from West Virginia, Gino was the anchor of an experienced offensive line. Gradkowski was also the Hen’s best offensive lineman when they advanced to the FCS title game in 2010. After watching tape on Gino, it is evident why he has received so much praise. He is an excellent pass blocker who has the ability to hold up against both power and finesse rushers. Even more impressive was his blocking against the run, he has the ability to open big holes and when asked upon, to get to the second level and wreak havoc on smaller defenders. Look for Gradkowski to be a late flier teams will look at in rounds 5-7.

- Nick Martin