This year’s Senior Bowl features a laundry list of exciting prospects, but few that figure to be in the Rams’ first-round projections. I’m of the assumption that the Rams will use their two first round picks to select some combination of DE Jadeveon Clowney, OT Jake Matthews, OT Greg Robinson, WR Sammy Watkins, or S Haha Clinton-Dix (or trade out altogether), so I thought I might use this list to evaluate who I’d like to see in blue and gold that may be available in the second round or later. Let’s get started:
Michael Sam – defensive end, Missouri
Call me a huge homer all you want (because I am a HUGE homer), but it was a privilege to watch defensive end Michael Sam ply his trade at the University of Missouri, where he evolved into one of the SEC’s most productive pass-rushers. The Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year put up 10.5 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss in 2013, and has great quickness off the snap. Sam projects as an outside linebacker in the NFL, a position to which the Rams are looking to add depth, and given his inexperience in a stand-up role, he may be available between rounds two and four.
Ahmad Dixon – safety, Baylor
Dixon became known for a bit of a reckless streak during his time at Baylor, but his skills are undeniable. He projects as a second- or third-rounder, but his combination of coverage skills and his nose for run support may force him up some teams’ draft boards. I’ve made no secret about my belief that the Rams should target some veteran aid at safety to bolster a very young secondary, but if Dixon can be scooped up and the Rams have already found an offensive tackle and a receiver, I say go for it.
Jordan Matthews – wide receiver, Vanderbilt
The Rams got a decent bit of production from the Vanderbilt skill player they drafted last year, running back Zac Stacy, and Matthews is an equally intriguing prospect. The 6’3” Matthews is rapidly climbing draft boards given a solid initial showing in Senior Bowl practices, so he may not be there when the Rams take their turn on the clock in round two. However, the team could use a tall reciever to complement Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, and Chris Givens that would also perhaps force Brian Quick to do…something. If he’s available in round two and the team went with some combination of DE/OT/S in the first round, he’s worth a serious look.
Cyril Richardson – guard, Baylor
While re-signing G/T Rodger Saffold should be among the Rams’ top priorities this offseason, drafting Richardson would provide some much-needed quality depth for them to work with. Richardson protected Washington’s Robert Griffin III as a left tackle at Baylor before making the switch to guard as a junior, and his versatility would be welcome among a unit that was forced to shift quite a bit due to injuries in 2013. His massive 6’5”, 348 lb. frame could ideally open up some serious holes for running back Zac Stacy, and he could eventually replace incumbent starter Chris Williams at some point in the near future. It’s no secret that head coach Jeff Fisher doesn’t draft offensive linemen early (or really at all), but if Richardson is available in rounds two or three, he may be too enticing to pass up.
Dee Ford – outside linebacker, Auburn
Ford is currently lighting up Senior Bowl practices, and is one of the most talked about prospects in Mobile. Initial reports are that his explosiveness is remarkable, and combined with a standout performance in the National Championship loss to Florida State, Ford is looking like an immediate impact player. According to cbssports.com, Ford ranks as the sixth-best outside linebacker prospect and 60th rated overall, but it appears that those grades may have to be reviewed. Ideally the Rams will have chosen some combination of tackle/safety/wide receiver in the first round, and if Ford is available in the second round, consider it a home run.
Um…what exactly is the plan for the wide receiver position again?