The 2012 NFL Draft is right around the corner. Tomorrow, the combine starts, and before we know it, the draft will be upon us. Yesterday, Nick Martin and I took a look at small school prospects that the St. Louis Rams should be interested in drafting.
Today, I'm posting an interview that I did with Matt Miller. He is the NFL guru for Bleacher Report and owns his own scouting website NewEraScouting.com.
Since I love reading Mr. Miller's scouting reports, I was honored that he let me pick his brain about the draft. If you want to know more about the draft, what Miller thinks the Rams should do with the number two pick, and why he has Alshon Jeffery rated higher than Justin Blackmon, follow me the jump.
1. Before we talk about the St. Louis Rams, I would like to know more about why you think Alshon Jeffery is such a great prospect, because all season you have had him as your number one wideout on your big board.
Alshon Jeffery is a polarizing prospect, for sure. When preparing for the NFL draft I look at more than the current year's film. Based on 2010 film, when South Carolina had decent quarterback play and a good run game, Jeffery was amazing. In fact, he had more yards than Julio Jones and A.J. Green did in their final seasons.
Jeffery was the victim of poor quarterback play, no run game and perhaps he wasn't as driven in the preseason as some want. I don't fault a player for what he does outside of the season unless it results in an arrest. All that matters to be is if he's ready to go when the whistle blows--and Jeffery was.
When you break it all down a wide receiver is supposed to score touchdowns. Justin Blackmon will move the chains, Kendall Wright will make explosive plays here and there, but no other receiver in this class can stretch the field and give his offense a shot to score touchdowns like Jeffery.
2. Also, how do you feel about Justin Blackmon and do you think he would fit with the Rams?
Blackmon would be the ideal fit for Sam Bradford's arm, in my opinion. Bradford excelled when asked to throw quick routes and timing patterns. Blackmon isn't a deep threat, but a player who works well in short areas. His lack of height (6'1") and speed make him an ideal possession receiver for the Rams and Bradford.
3. What should the Rams do with the 2nd pick overall?
The Rams are in perfect position to hold an auction for the No. 2 overall choice, trading out to a team hoping to get Robert Griffin III.
If St. Louis can pick up an extra first round pick in 2013 along with extra picks in 2012 they will have set themselves up to infuse the roster with talent. Consider their available cap space and extra draft picks and the Rams could see a dramatic one year turnaround.
4. How far ahead is Matt Kalil over Riley Reiff? Many mocks have the Rams taking him in a trade down scenario.
Kalil is head and shoulders above any tackle in this class. Reiff, in my opinion, is probably a right tackle down the road. He's a former tight end with good agility, but hasn't shown the quickness to be elite on the left side. Kalil, on the other hand, has that agility and the strength to lock-up pass rushers coming off the edge.
5. With all the hype around Justin Blackmon do you think that he's worth a top 5 pick?
I don't value Blackmon, or any receiver in this class, as a Top 5 pick. The wide receiver class is a deep one this year, and if you look historically wide receivers drafted high rarely play up to their value. That said, I would feel comfortable with Blackmon around the No. 9 pick.
6. What are some good 2nd and 3rd round options for the Rams? (CB, RB, DT,OLB Are probably the next positions that need work).
A few names to watch are Jerel Worthy (DT-Michigan State), Jamell Fleming (CB-Oklahoma), Bobby Wagner (OLB-Utah State), Fletcher Cox (DT-Miss. State), Doug Martin (RB-Boise State) and even Devon Still (DT-Penn State).
7. Can you name some potential sleepers that will be available in the draft?
I'm a big fan of Joe Adams and Jarius Wright from Arkansas. Both look like slot receivers but should be starters within a few years. Also, Shaun Prater from Iowa is a standout who may fall down the board. If Jared Crick can play healthy after a torn pectoral muscle, he will be a steal where he's selected.
8. If the Rams wait until the 4th round or lower can they find outside linebackers or defensive tackles, that can make an impact?
Defensive tackle is loaded this season. There is a sizeable dropoff in talent, but in Round 4 Kheeston Randall or Alameda Ta'amu would be solid options. At outside linebacker the talent has dried up by the fourth round, but Terrell Manning or Nigel Bradham would be very nice options.
9. Steven Jackson is getting up there in age, the Rams can't afford to draft a running back on the first or second round. Which running backs would be good backups to Steven Jackson.
If we're talking Round 3 or later I would look hard at Dan Herron (Ohio State) as a potential featured back. He has all the talent to be a starter and is a hard-nosed runner with enough burst to hit the hole and make plays.I also like the ability of Vick Ballard, but he needs coached up before he's ready to take on a role, as he looks to hit the edge far too often.
10. A reader had the below question to ask you.
Brandon Weibley:How do you really scout an RB. It seems like one of those positions where you either got it or you dont. Seems like its the most inconsistantly ranked positions too. So many high drafted RBs havent done much, and most of the top backs in the NFL werent first rounders
Scouting a RB can be tough. It's too easy to look at 40-times and highlight reels, when those are two factors that matter very little.
I start by watching a back run through the middle. Those are the plays I want to see. If a guy can't get through holes in the middle of the field he can't be a feature back for me.
If a player excels at finding holes and exploding through them here, I then move on to his burst and acceleration in the open field. Once the back clears the first level, what can he do for me? Burst can be overrated though. If the back doesn't clear traffic well, or run hard through the line, his secondary acceleration is worthless.
The final traits to evaluate are hands, how capabale he is as a blocker and if he brings any value as a return man.