College football. The eternal font of potential Hall of Fame talent. The bottomless wellspring of opportunity to make your roster better year after year after year.
Today, we got a sense of the 2016 college football landscape with the initial release of the preseason AP poll.
With an eye toward the best opening weekend of college football perhaps ever coming in just two weeks, here’s that top 25 with a prospect from each team that could help the Rams in the 2017 NFL Draft:
25. Florida - CB Jalen “Teez” Tabor
Tabor is coming into a huge true junior season for the Gators. Last year, he and teammate Vernon Hargreaves III took both cornerback spots on the 2015 All-SEC first team. Hargreaves was drafted 11th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leaving the spotlight in the secondary firmly in Tabor’s hands this year. The Washington, D.C. product hasn’t exactly gotten off on the right foot by getting in a preseason scrap with a teammate this month...sounds like a Jeff Fisher recruit, no? Hard to argue that he wouldn’t fill the spot left by former Florida CB Janoris Jenkins pretty cleanly...
24. Oregon - WR Devon Allen
No, Allen’s not a top of the depth chart option. And with the Rams likely looking to grab a WR in the first two days of the draft in the next two drafts, this isn’t meant to replace that. This is the burner the Rams need to stretch the field.
Allen, an Olympian who recently came in fifth in the 100m hurdles, is perhaps less of a wide receiver and more of an athlete. Sounds like a hell of an option to put in the mix at the back of the Rams’ WR corps...
23. Baylor - C Kyle Fuller
The 2017 NFL Draft center class is shaping up to be one of the best in a long time (CMON ACT LIKE YOU’RE NOT EXCITED ABOUT CENTERS). Fuller’s in the mix with the top five or six who will need to be sorted out at season’s end.
22. North Carolina - TE Brandon Fritts
Fritts isn’t likely to declare after his redshirt sophomore season in 2016, but his first showing was a strong one in 2015. Now getting to reunite with his former HS QB in Mitch Trubisky in 2016, Fritts could take off in 2016 following in the footsteps of former Tar Heel TE Eric Ebron, the 10th overall pick for the Detroit Lions in the 2014 NFL Draft.
21. Oklahoma St. - FS Jordan Stems
The Rams may find a way to staff the slot left open by S Rodney McLeod’s departure in 2016, but they may dip into the draft in years coming to do so. Stems would make a ton of sense alongside T.J. McDonald.
20. USC - WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
If JuJu declares after his true junior season in 2016, the campaign to keep him in LA is going to be unaviodable...and hard to argue with.
19. Louisville - S Josh Harvey-Clemons
JHC transferred from Georgia to Louisville after a series of off-field transgressions. He’s firmly made in the Mark Barron hybrid role. A defense with Barron and JHC on the field at the same time is...well, that’s not the kind of defense you feel comfortable running at at full speed.
18. Georgia - OLB Davin Bellamy
An athletic LB with speed and power out of Georgia who offers versatility across the second level. No, it’s not Alec Ogletree. Yes, that’s a good act to follow.
17. Iowa - CB Desmond King
Not sure he fits the Fisherball Cushion of Death, but if the Rams want a corner who has no problems playing under WRs’ chins off the line (and doing so really damn well), King’s going to be the guy in the 2017 NFL Draft.
16. UCLA - QB Josh Rosen
DON’T @ ME
15. Houston - Head Coach Tom Herman
I SAID DON’T @ ME
14. Washington - ILB Azeem Victor
If Alec Ogletree stumbles in his transition to MLB and the Rams look to restore him to his OLB spot in 2017, Victor would make sense. A cerebral centerpiece who has no issues organizing his defense, Victor isn’t a playmaker. He helps other be as much. I’m cool with that.
13. TCU - LB Travin Howard
I have no idea what position Howard’s going to play in the NFL. I don’t really care either. A safety who transitioned to linebacker, not much was expected from Howard last season. He put on 25 pounds and finished with a team-high 107 tackles. If he improves in 2016...look out.
12. Michigan St. - DT Malik McDowell
Rams DT Michael Brockers is on a fifth-year option. Should he not sign, or should the Rams look for a cheaper option in the draft, McDowell would be a phenomenal option.
11. Ole Miss - WR Damore'ea Stringfellow
The Washington transfer gets to ride the wake of Laquon Treadwell, the former Ole Miss standout who went 23rd overall in the 2016 NFL Draft to the Minnesota Vikings.
Big shoes to fill, no doubt. But if he does, expect a similar campaign that pined for Treadwell to the Rams eight months ago.
10. Notre Dame - ILB Nyles Morgan
The Irish are the biggest mystery for me in the top 10, which perhaps is why they’re at the very back of it. Kicking off the season against a desperate Texas team, ND will have a ton of opportunities to shine on the national stage including their regular season finale...in the Coliseum two days after Thanksgiving. If Morgan shines, LA’s gonna notice.
9. Tennessee - OLB Jalen Reeves-Maybin
Reeves-Maybin is the kind of guy who gradually works his way up the board to the bottom of the first round, goes to a contender, and spends the next ten years of his career holding down one side of a traditional 4-3 defense, never earning too much publicity but a model of consistency for coaches.
8. Stanford - G Johnny Caspers
A Rob Havenstein type mauling, ugly, anti-workout warrior lineman. I love him.
7. Michigan - DEF Jabrill Peppers
An anti-Havenstein. Supreme athlete, perhaps so good it’s hard to find a position fit for him (see: Myles Jack). Played cornerback and running back in high school. Played safety, linebacker, a flex offensive player (a la Rams’ use of Tavon Austin) and punt returner thus far at Michigan.
Don’t know, don’t care. He’s a freak.
6. Ohio St. - C Pat Elflein
One of the few seniors on the Buckeyes’ roster after the massive exodus of this offseason, Elflein is the quiet star of the offensive line.
tOSU has a ton of work to do to rebuild after their last two years of postseason football, but they have the talent to do it. The question is if they do it this year with Elflein or next year using 2016 as the tune-up.
5. LSU - MLB Kendall Beckwith
Hardest selection so far. CB Tre’Davious White would be a great add for the Rams. WRs Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural are obvious fits. Jeff Fisher is going to be so tempted to take RB Leonard Fournette. And C Ethan Pocic fits the Rams’ offensive line mold blatantly.
But Beckwith would be a perfect Mike to settle the Rams’ defense moving forward.
4. Florida St. - WR Travis Rudolph
Rudolph exploded in 2015. If FSU can get some consistency at QB in 2016 (which they didn’t a year ago and looks like they might not yet again), he could fly up draft boards for next spring.
3. Oklahoma - SS Steven Parker
I said Notre Dame was the biggest mystery in the top 10. Oklahoma’s my runner-up.
Look, when Baker Mayfield is your QB, things are gonna be weird. Entertainingly weird.
2. Clemson - QB DeShaun Watson
So if the #Rams call dibs on Deshaun Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft, that's how this thing works, right?— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) November 29, 2014
IT COUNTS. IT’S LEGALLY BINDING.
1. Alabama - LT Cam Robinson
WR Calvin Ridley’s a true sophomore, so we’ll have to wait. MLB Rueben Foster makes a ton of sense here. But CRob is a GRob insurance policy as of today unless Greg Robinson finally makes good on his status as the #2 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.