Last week’s Top-5 list outlined a handful of Senior Bowl participants that the Rams might have had their eyes on heading into Saturday’s game in Mobile, Alabama. With the festivities concluded, it’s worth taking a look at the performances of players that have a chance at landing in St. Louis in a few short months.
Auburn outside linebacker Dee Ford was with little doubt the game’s biggest benefactor. Last Thursday we listed him as the no. 1 prospect we’d like to see the Rams snag in round 2 or later, but at this point in time he may have played himself into the mid-to-late first round. Ford finished with two sacks and was a consistent threat coming off the edge. According to Pro Football Focus, Ford finished with a solid grade of +3.6 in pass rush situations, but his overall grade regressed to +0.2 due to wavering run support and a few penalties. It may be a bit of a reach for the Rams to get him with the 13th overall pick, and he may be gone by the time they’re on the clock in the second round. However, if the Rams trade out of either of their first round picks and find themselves repositioned in the late first round, who knows?
Among the more disappointing showings was that of Baylor guard Cyril Richardson, who we also profiled a bit last week. The gigantic 6’5”, nearly 350-pound Richardson had generally struggled in the practices leading up to the game and didn’t do much to ease the concerns of scouts in attendance on Saturday. The concerns lie with his footwork, as he was routinely beaten by the quicker defensive linemen he faced. His run blocking was just OK by all accounts, but PFF graded his pass blocking at -1.9, making his overall grade a -1.3. However, footwork is coachable, and should Richardson take a tumble in the draft, the Rams’ glaring need for interior offensive line depth combined with his undeniable size and strength may still make him worth a second- or third-round pick.
Another big winner was Princeton defensive tackle Caraun Reid, who also finished with two sacks and performed well in the practices leading up to the game. Like Ford, Reid received high marks for his pass-rushing abilities, but could have contributed more against the run. However, PFF graded him out at +1.5 overall, which is among the better showings from Saturday. Reid currently projects as a fourth-rounder according to CBS Sports and nfldraftscout.com as the 12th rated defensive tackle in the draft, but a solid few months of work might push him higher up draft boards. Defensive tackle is by no means a need for the Rams, but if they’ve filled a few of those holes and find Reid available in the third or fourth round, it wouldn’t be much of a shock to see head coach Jeff Fisher try to bolster his defensive line.
Among the other players discussed here last week – wide receiver Jordan Matthews of Vanderbilt, safety Ahmad Dixon of Baylor, and defensive end Michael Sam of Missouri – none managed to truly separate themselves from the pack. Matthews was a relative nonfactor, Dixon’s pass coverage skills were a bit exposed (to the tune of a -1.7 grade), and Sam registered a single sack but also struggled against the run.
Given the rest of the Rams’ needs, there were an additional few risers among the lot that may be worth keeping an eye on as the combine and pre-draft workout process shakes out. Guards Kadeem Edwards (+1.2) of Tennessee State and Michigan’s Michael Schofield (who switched from tackle for the game and graded at +1.3) were two of the only three offensive linemen that participated to receive positive grades. The other was Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin (+2.8). Schofield’s switch to guard for the game makes him even more intriguing for a Rams team that looks like it may have a lot of depth to fill pending potential departure of guard Rodger Saffold, the speculated departures of guard Harvey Dahl and center Scott Wells, and the questionable health and future of tackle Jake Long. Surely the Rams will be looking for offensive linemen with the ability to wear multiple hats if called upon. As of right now, Schofield projects as a fifth-rounder according to CBS sports, and given Fisher’s history of only drafting offensive linemen late (if at all), he may be an interesting prospect in the second half of the draft.
Finally, outside linebacker Chris Borland of Wisconsin, who CBS lists as an inside player while PFF had him at 4-3 outside linebacker, graded the best among the position group. Borland played only 19 snaps, but was able to force a fumble and showed great agility in shedding blocks according to PFF’s analysis. His relatively small stature (6’0”, 245 lbs.) may hurt his status with scouts, but as it sits currently, CBS Sports has him as their 87th overall prospect and project him to be a third round selection.
What sticks out most is that the guys with middle-round grades were generally the ones that performed the best according to PFF and the experts in attendance. The Rams have picked up a few mid-to-late round gems in the last two drafts, and given that general manager Les Snead has selected four Senior Bowl participants in his first two drafts with the Rams (T.J. McDonald, Janoris Jenkins, Isaiah Pead, and Brian Quick), it’s reasonable to believe that he and his staff will be keeping tabs on these guys as the draft approaches.
What Ram player would you like to see more of in 2014? We say Stedman Bailey.