clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Will the Rams feel the need for speed in 2024 draft? Here’s where to start

Identifying the fastest players in the East-West Shrine Bowl

Iowa v Penn State
Curtis Jacobs was the fastest linebacker at the 2024 East-West Shrine Bowl
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

One of the 2023 Los Angeles Rams problems as voiced by fans was the lack of team speed. While it was particularly noted in the defensive secondary, an argument could be made that it crept into all areas, offense, defense, and special teams.

At the 2024 East-West Shrine Bowl, Zebra Technologies partnered up with game organizers to measure top speeds at practice and in the game. It also provided acceleration and deceleration numbers for all players invited. If you agree that the Rams need a speed upgrade, I have listed the top speeds by position. The Zebra Technologies miles per hour numbers are in bold, as are rounds where I have slotted these players (off my first Top 300 Big Board) in the 2024 NFL Draft.

I will also link to a calculator that converts miles per hour to 40 yard dash times. Remember that it just a tool to give an idea of the 40 time, there many facets that make up different speed numbers and it’s an estimate.

Cornerback

21.08- AJ Woods, Pittsburgh 5’ 9 5/8” 186 lb.

20.85- Ryan Watts, Texas 6’ 2 3/4” 212 lb.

20.84- Myles Harden, South Dakota State 5’ 10 5/8” 195 lb.

20.83- Ro Torrence (7th) Arizona State 6’ 2 3/4” 204 lb.

20.46- Jarrian Jones (5th) Florida State 6’ 192 lb.

20.44- Daequan Hardy (5th) Penn State 5’ 9” 176 lb.

20.37- Dwight McGlothern (5th) Arkansas 6’ 1 3/8” 185 lb.

20.21- Beanie Bishop, West Virginia 5’ 9 1/8” 182

20.06- Jarius Monroe (5th) Tulane 6’ 5/8” 204 lb.

There were so many corners with plus speed numbers, I just listed those at 20 mph or better. Woods, Hardy, and Bishop are likely limited by their size to slot work. Jones and McGlothern are SEC-tough and after more research, will be higher on my final Big Board. Monroe has some nice traits. Torrence showed versatility, playing a little safety in college.

Safety

21.88- Jaylon Carlies (7th) Mizzou 6’ 2 3/8” 231 lbs.

21.55- Tyler Owens, Texas Tech 6’ 2 1/8” 213 lb.

21.06- Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, Texas Tech 5’ 10” 189 lb.

20.53- Mark Perry, TCU 6’ 1/8” 211 lb.

19.96- Trey Taylor (7th) Air Force 6’ 1/2” 213 lb.

Don’t know a lot about these prospects, thought Carlies and Taylor were good enough to be drafted, but didn’t have special traits. Owens and Taylor-Demerson were secondary mates, with Owens playing strong safety and Taylor-Demerson playing single-high and some slot. They all have special teams potential, big and fast is a solid foundation to build on.

Linebacker

20.31- Curtis Jacobs (5th) Penn State 6’ 1” 236 lb.

20.24- Jason Johnson, Central Florida 6’ 1/2” 222 lb.

19.50- Easton Gibbs, Wyoming 6’ 231 lb.

19.44- Dallas Gant, Toledo 6’ 2 1/2” 224 lb.

19.35- Steele Chambers (6th) Ohio State 6’ 1/2” 223 lb.

Jacobs was recruited as a safety and plays like that naturally rather than thumping linebacker. Don’t have Johnson, Gibbs, and Gant on my board, but they all were shouted out for good play at the Shrine Bowl, must look deeper. Chambers was recruited as and played running back his first two college seasons. He’s been quick study and quite productive as a tackler.

Edge

20.09- Sundiata Anderson (U) Grambling 6’ 3 1/2” 239 lb.

19.63- Richard Jibunor, Troy 6’ 1 7/8” 234 lb.

19.13- Xavier Thomas (7th) Clemson 6’ 1 1/2” 244 lb.

18.51- Eyabi Okie-Anoma (7th) NC Charlotte 6’ 3 7/8” 253 lb.

18.38- Grayson Murphy (6th) UCLA 6’ 2 1/4” 251 lb.

Anderson had 24 tackles for loss and 12 sacks in his final 21 games. Now we know the HBCU top prospect is fast as well. Jibunor was highly recruited and started at Auburn. He’s a developmental player with plus traits, interesting to see if he could play a traditional outside linebacker role instead of edge. Thomas was a good college player and I might be underestimating his game. Okie-Anoma could be a sleeper or trouble, dismissed from Alabama, dismissed from Houston before playing, stepped down to UT Martin, transferred to Michigan, and finished up as a graduate transfer at NC Charlotte. The kicker? He earned starts and had success at all stops. Murphy is one of twin edges at UCLA, has some speed and bend.

Defensive tackle

15.62- Jawon Briggs, Cincinnati 6’ 1 1/4” 313 lb.

15.51- Logan Lee (U) Iowa 6’ 5” 286 lb.

15.14- Kristian Boyd, Northern Iowa 6’ 2 1/8” 320 lb.

14.89- Nathan Pickering. Mississippi State 6’ 2 1/2” 300 lb.

14.69- Jordan Miller, SMU 6’ 2 1/8” 304 lb.

Lee is the only one on my board. He’s is tough and knows his role, more of a 4-3 defensive end. As for the others, in what little I have seen, are all about the same grade, undrafted or right on the fringe. Boyd was singled out as one the best performers at the Shrine Bowl workouts.

Wide receiver

20.33- Lideatrick Griffin, Mississippi State 5’ 9 7/8” 175 lb.

20.25- Jaxon Janke, South Dakota State 6’ 2” 206 lb.

20.16- Tahj Washington (7th) USC 5’ 9 7/8” 177 lb.

19.96- Anthony Gould, Oregon State 5’ 8” 178 lb.

19.89- Jadon Janke, South Dakota State 6’ 1 3/4” 205 lb.

Three little guys and a set of twins. Griffin improved his production in each of his college seasons, had 17 rushes in 2023 and returns kickoffs. Washington also has kick returns in his past and was a productive deep threat on a USC team with a lot of weapons. Gould is an All-American punt returner and improved his receiving production each season, I need to dig in deeper and get him on my board. The Janke twins are both big, fast, and productive at the FCS level. Both also have returned kicks.

Running back

20.58- Blake Watson (7th) Memphis 5’ 9 3/8” 189 lb.

20.40- Carson Steele (U) UCLA 6’ 3/8” 228 lb.

20.36- Frank Gore (7th) Southern Miss 5’ 7 1/8” 199 lb.

20.00- Jabari Small, Tennessee 5’ 8 3/8” 205 lb.

19.58- Jaden Shirden, Monmouth 5’ 7 1/2” 189 lb.

Watson’s speed and rushing ability are not his only skills, he’s a strong receiver, as well. Steele’s all-around game, running, blocking, receiving and special teams might make an interesting candidate for RB#2 or 3 for the Rams. Bowling ball Gore was a strong runner on a bad team.

Quarterback

18.43- John Rhys Plumlee, Central Florida 5’ 11 1/2” 200 lb.

18.18- Austin Reed (U) Western Kentucky 6’ 7/8” 223 lb.

17.90- Kedon Slovis, BYU 6’ 2 1/8” 214 lb.

17.48- Taulia Tagovailoa (U) Maryland 5’ 10 1/4” 200 lb.

16.89- Jack Plummer, Louisville 6’ 4” 216 lb.

On my board, I have Tagovailoa and Reed as being on the fringe of the draft. I like Plumlee’s film and game, but wonder how well it translates to the NFL. Although Slovis was a starter for three different major college programs, he never really lived up to expectations after a stellar freshman season. Plummer has the size and average traits.

Tight end

18.92- Mason Fairchild (7th) Kansas 6’ 3 3/4” 248 lb.

18.79- Tip Reiman, Illinois 6’ 4 3/8” 273 lb.

18.55- Issac Rex, BYU 6’ 5” 250 lb.

18.14- Zach Heins, South Dakota State 6’ 6” 264 lb.

18.10- Dallin Holker (5th) Colorado State 6’ 3 1/8” 241 lb.

Fairchild is a receiver-first tight end with plus athleticism and has been edging up draft boards after a strong Shrine Bowl week. Holker is known for great hands and football, had a big final season, but not much before. Have not scouted the others, but Ferragamo 15 has a FanPost review on Reiman and 18.79 is motoring for 273lb.

Offensive line

15.90- Matt Lee, Miami (5th) 6’ 3” 288 lb.

15.65- Donovan Jennings, South Florida 6’ 4” 328 lb.

15.53- CJ Hanson, Holy Cross 6’ 4 5/8” 300 lb.

15.34- Christian Mahogany (3rd) Boston College 6’ 2 1/2” 318 lb.

14.96- Karsen Barnhart, Michigan 6’ 4” 297 lb.

Center Lee has good foot work and move skills, earns good Pro Football Focus scores (particularly in pass pro), and Mel Kiper Jr. recently had him as his #5 center. Would Rams fans go for pivot under 300 lb.? Left tackle Jennings is a top Group of Five player who might have to play inside as a pro. Guard Mahogany has solid all-around game and could be an early round draft pick, but missed all of 2022 with a knee injury.

Surprise!

18.06- Marco Ortiz, Nebraska Long Snapper 6’ 3 5/8” 248 lb.

Roughly translates to a tad over 4.5 in the forty, talk about snapping it and getting down to cover. Now that’s upgrading special teams speed.

Any possible Rams here?

Starters? Not so much, but you never know until they get on to the field. With that said, there are some sleepers, a handful of special teams players that could add speed and be development projects.

As usual, the Rams will have a cornucopia of picks in Rounds 5, 6, and 7. In that area, my favorites off this list would be cornerback Jarius Monroe, linebacker Curtis Jacobs, edge/linebacker Richard Jibunor, running back Carson Steele, and center Matt Lee. There’s another half-dozen that would add speed to special teams and while he has baggage, Okie-Anoma has juice off the edge.

Speed isn’t everything in the NFL, but is needed. Everybody remembers the liquid-fast busts and slow over-achievers, but speed (burst, short, or long) is an innate part of today’s NFL to keep up playmakers, or be one.