MOBILE, Ala. –
– I’ll be departing from here later this afternoon but before I do I wanted to share with you all some of the nuggets of information I’ve gleaned from various scouts I’ve talk to this week. Some of them are scouts with teams right now, some run scouting services online and others are former scouts down here looking for work. I wanted to get an idea of what some thoughts were not only on guys here at the Senior Bowl but on this draft class as a whole even at this early stage of the process. The opinions below are those of those scouts and not of the St. Louis Rams or myself.
– One thing some people are debating is who is the best quarterback in the draft and some wonder if Robert Griffin III of Baylor will in fact challenge Stanford’s Andrew Luck to be the top pick in the draft. The consensus here is no, he won’t. For as much as scouts like Griffin as a kid and a player, he apparently doesn’t have the one intangible thing Luck has in spades: the ability to read defenses before the snap and make that quick read. Luck is still considered as NFL ready as any QB to enter the league since the man he might replace: Peyton Manning. And he’s considered a better athlete than many give him credit for.
– One former league scout said he believes the Rams Sam Bradford still was a better prospect than Luck, though and believes long term Bradford will be the better quarterback. For what it’s worth.
– It’s very clear that Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon is regarded as the best WR in the draft. And though some are curious what he’s going to run when the time comes, the majority believes Blackmon is indeed good enough to be a top five pick. One scout compared him to Julio Jones, saying he has similar after the catch ability and though he isn’t as fast as Jones, has better hands.
– There is some differing opinions on the top tackle in the draft, however. USC’s Matt Kalil is considered the best but there are a few dissenting opinions that believe Iowa’s Riley Reiff is the better player. And a couple of scouts say that Stanford G David DeCastro is actually the best lineman in the draft regardless of position.
– South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery is apparently someone who draws split opinions. Scouts seem to agree he doesn’t have the speed or route running skills to separate consistently. But what he does better than anyone is “high point” the ball and go get it. He always seems to be covered but it doesn’t seem to bother him because he makes catches anyway.
– A sleeper name to remember at wide receiver? Wake Forest’s Chris Givens. Numerous scouts mentioned him as a guy that is better than advertised with the deep speed to blow the top off a defense. Keep an eye on him, he could be a fast riser and run something big time at the combine in February.
– At running back, it’s Alabama’s Trent Richardson and then everybody else. Richardson is viewed as a top 10 pick and is apparently the total package. He could slip if only because backs don’t seem to have the value they once did but there’s no question Richardson will go in the top half of round one. After that, it’s anybody’s guess right now.
– As for some consensus thoughts on the players at this year’s Senior Bowl:
– In a straw poll, the following earned votes as the best player here (in order of most mentions): North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins, North Carolina DL Quinton Coples, Alabama LB Courtney Upshaw and one mention for Clemson DT Brandon Thompson.
– Jenkins, of course, is the transfer from Florida who has some character questions. But there’s no doubt that he has first-round talent as a man cover corner.
– Coples has questions about his work ethic and effort from play to play but he certainly looks the part.
– Upshaw is being called the next LaMarr Woodley.
– Thompson is an intriguing guy because he had a big junior year but didn’t produce much as a senior. He’s still considered an intriguing prospect, though.
– A sleeper name to consider here? Louisiana-Lafayette CB Dwight Bentley. He’s been a revelation the first couple days here and could work his way up some draft boards in the weeks leading up to the draft.
– There are some with concerns about the lack of size of Nebraska LB Lavonte David but those same people think he might be the best pure 4-3 OLB prospect here, even better than the speedy North Carolina LB Zach Brown.
– That’s going to do it for my time here in Mobile. I’ll have some more features and such on guys from here in the next few days but otherwise will be turning my attention to the rest of the Rams coaching staff filling up. Of course, I will be in Indianapolis again for the Scouting Combine in February with plenty more to discuss on this draft. And I’ll be doing my chat tomorrow so feel free to shoot me questions about some draft prospects and I’ll answer them best I can. Thanks for reading.
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MOBILE, Ala. –
– The South team just wrapped up its Tuesday afternoon practice as the Washington Redskins coaching staff put its group through the paces.
– I’ve made reference to it before but the South team always seems to have better, more spirited and more competitive practices. I think it’s because in a general sense, the talent is usually better. The South team always has mostly SEC and Big 12 talent as well as the cream of the crop from the ACC. While many of the North practices look slow and plodding, this group is anything but.
– Let’s start with Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden. Yes, he’s 28. But he’s also the best QB here and if he were 22 or 23, he’d probably be right in the discussion as one of the top three quarterbacks in the draft. As it stands, some scouts think he might be anyway Yes, he’s older but he’s also really talented. His numbers and production have little to do with being part of a “system” and everything to do with his being a really good football player.
– North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins is here and he’s one of the most interesting prospects on the board. Talent wise, the scouts say he’s a top 10 guy, every bit as good as Joe Haden, whom Cleveland took 7th a couple of years ago. But Jenkins made some mistakes at Florida and was dismissed from the team. His talent was clear on Tuesday: he’s wildly competitive and athletic and fits the mold of a lockdown man corner. How he handles himself in interviews and the process leading up to the combine will ultimately decide where he lands, though.
– Georgia OL Cordy Glenn is the heaviest player here, checking in a tick below 350 pounds. He was a tackle for the Bulldogs but he’s almost certainly going to be a guard at the next level. He’ll need to get in better shape but he’s a good athlete for his size and could be a mauler in the run game.
– On the opposite end of that spectrum is Alabama C William Vlachos. He’s one of Nick Saban’s favorites because he’s very competitive and nasty but also extremely intelligent. Vlachos is a bit stumpy at 6’1, 294 pounds but he’s not afraid to mix it up and figures to fight his way onto a roster.
– Texas A&M RB Cyrus Gray has some nice runs in a day of practices in which it seemed running backs performing well were few and far between.
– Everything you’ve heard about the speed of Florida RB Chris Rainey is true. It looks like the guy isn’t even touching the ground when he accelerates.
– Same for UNC LB Zach Brown. Brown isn’t the soundest technician according to scouts but his ability to chase down the ball with his supreme athleticism makes him a rare commodity. If he had better instincts, he’d be a dominant player.
– His teammate, DL Quinton Coples, looks the part at 6’6, 285 pounds. He draws comparisons to Cameron Jordan, the Cal DL who went to the Saints in round 1 last year. But Coples’ motor doesn’t always run at full speed and it prevents him from dominating the way he should. He’ll likely still go very high in the draft but it seems there are some mixed opinions on him in a small sample of various scouts.
– I’ll have some more info for you all tomorrow with one more post before heading back to STL. Thanks for reading.
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MOBILE, Ala. –
– The Senior Bowl teams got back on a regular schedule Tuesday morning as the North team went through the paces of a morning workout before the South steps onto the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium this afternoon.
– It was a tough day for receivers, tight end and quarterbacks as they struggled to get on the same page while the signal callers missed easy throws and the receivers had some drops on throws that were on target.
– The exception to that rule was Iowa WR Marvin McNutt, who had a nice day. McNutt dropped one early but seemed to have the best knack for getting open and plucking the ball out of the air.
– Cal WR Marvin Jones can really run and stretch the field, at one point he outran the arm of Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson. Some scouts in attendance said Jones is a little lacking as a route runner, though.
– Speaking of Wilson, he might have struggled the most on Tuesday. He is already facing questions about his size (he checked in around 5’10) but he missed some easy throws Tuesday. In fairness, he also hit on a few difficult ones, including a nice deep out down the sideline to McNutt.
– While the skill position guys were finding their way, the big boys up front were having a big day.
– None, moreso than Michigan DT Mike Martin. At 6’2, 304 pounds, Martin isn’t the biggest DT on the block but he’s probably the strongest. He pushes the pile almost at will and he has good enough athleticism to chase the quarterback. Some buzz among scouts that he’ll be a fast riser in the coming weeks.
– Ohio State OT Mike Adams is a big, big man. He’s listed at 6’8, 320 pounds but looks bigger. Surprisingly, he moves pretty well and he did some good things in one on one pass rush drills today.
– Marshall DE Vinny Curry has been through a lot, his mother passed away during the season, but he continues to state his case for being one of the first defensive linemen taken in this year’s draft. He has good burst off the edge and he’s a favorite among scouts.
– Connecticut DL Kendall Reyes also flashed some potential today.
– Wisconsin OL Kevin Zeitler is a typical, bruising Wisconsin offensive lineman. I’ll have more on him in a feature story at some point but he’s taking snaps at center as well as guard and he’s got the mentality of a mauling Wisconsin lineman that has translated well to the NFL. If he adds that versatility, he could be a really valuable commodity come draft day.
– One sleeper to watch out for on the offensive line: Iowa State OL Kelechi Osemele.
– That’s all for now. Stay tuned as I’ll be back with updates from the afternoon practice later this evening.
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ST. LOUIS RAMS TO HOST REGULAR-SEASON GAME IN UNITED KINGDOM
IN EACH OF NEXT THREE YEARS
RAMS FACE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT WEMBLEY STADIUM ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28
In an unprecedented step that begins the next chapter of the NFL’s continued momentum of growing the international fan base, the St. Louis Rams have committed to becoming the first NFL team to play regular-season games abroad on an annual basis, the league announced today.
The Rams will play one regular-season home game in the U.K. in 2012, 2013 and 2014, beginning with a game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, October 28, 2012 at London’s historic Wembley Stadium. The game will kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET (5:00 p.m. UK) and be televised live in the United States on CBS.
“The response to NFL games in the U.K. among our British fans has been exceptional,” said NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL. “We are confident that having the Rams host one game in the U.K. in each of the next three seasons will allow us to better serve the growing popularity of our sport beyond the borders of the United States.”
Last October 11, NFL owners approved a resolution that authorized the league to schedule regular-season games in the U.K. in each of the next five years, including to determine the number of games per season, the venue and the competing teams. All clubs were permitted to volunteer to play at least one regular-season game per year as a home team in the U.K. on an annual basis for up to five years, and the Rams’ proposal was selected.
“This is a tremendous honor for our franchise, the city of St. Louis and our fans throughout the world,” said Rams owner E. STANLEY KROENKE. “We are excited about the opportunity to reach new audiences globally. This is a great platform to showcase the city of St. Louis to London and the UK.
We’ve seen first-hand the increased popularity of the NFL not only in London but throughout Europe. To play a role in that growth over the next three years will be incredible and is a testament to the many good things happening not only in the NFL but also in the St. Louis Rams organization.”
The Rams, who earlier this week announced the hiring of head coach JEFF FISHER, will face the Patriots – who on Sunday will play for the AFC Championship and a berth in Super Bowl XLVI – next season in London. New England defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London in 2009.
“We are honored to be selected for this year’s game and eager to return,” said New England Patriots Chairman and CEO ROBERT KRAFT. “We had such a great experience during our last visit to London. We are proud to have great support from our fans when we are on the road. The United Kingdom is home to some of our most passionate Patriots fans, including the UKPatriots, who are among our most active fan clubs overall, not just overseas. We look forward to another memorable experience.”
The international series of regular-season games to date has contributed to increased NFL fan interest in the U.K., with a current fan base of 11 million, including more than two million avid fans, a 32% increase in the past two years.
Television ratings have also shown tremendous growth – with Sunday viewership of NFL games up 154% and the Super Bowl audience increased 74% since 2006 – while the league has developed new and stronger business partnerships.
“When the initial resolution to play international regular-season games was approved in 2006, the thinking at the time was that we would have two new teams every year,” said NFL Vice President of International CHRIS PARSONS. “As the series evolved, we saw that having a team return to the U.K. on a regular basis would increase fan interest for that particular team, which in turn would drive fan growth for the entire league. We are incredibly excited to introduce a young, talented team like the Rams to our U.K. fans. And to do so against a team with the rich history and tradition of the Patriots makes it even more exciting.”
The game between the Rams and Patriots at Wembley Stadium will be the only NFL contest in the U.K. next season.
The regular-season games played in the United Kingdom:
|Date||Visiting Team||Score||Home Team||Score|
|October 28, 2007||New York Giants||
|October 26, 2008||San Diego Chargers||
|New Orleans Saints||
|October 25, 2009||New England Patriots||
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||
|October 31, 2010||Denver Broncos||
|San Francisco 49ers||
|October 23, 2011||Chicago Bears||
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||
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- The Rams began their process for hiring a general manager on Monday as Philadelphia Director of Player Personnel Ryan Grigson came in for a visit.
– Grigson came to St. Louis after he made a stop in Indianapolis to interview for the same position there.
– The Rams brought in Lake Dawson from Tennessee and Les Snead from Atlanta on Tuesday as they continued their process.
– But Grigson’s name was removed from consideration Wednesday when he accepted the job with the Colts after going back for a second discussion on Tuesday.
– The Rams are waiting on a decision from Jeff Fisher on their head coaching job. It’s expected that Dawson would be a favorite for the GM job if Fisher lands in St. Louis though he will be a candidate regardless. Should Fisher opt for Miami or not make a decision today, the Rams are expected to continue their search for a head coach with another series of interviews in Denver beginning as soon as tonight and leading into tomorrow.
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- Ever the class act, Steve Spagnuolo released a statement early Tuesday evening thanking everyone for their support for the past three years. Below is that statement:
“I want to first thank every player and coach for their work ethic, character and loyalty throughout our three years together. I know each one of us firmly believes a solid foundation has been built and although not all of us will be here to experience it, this foundation will propel the team to great success in the near future.
“I also want to thank Chip Rosenbloom, Lucia Rodriguez and Stan Kroenke for their decision to bring me here three years ago. I truly appreciate the opportunity they gave me.
“I want to pass along deep gratitude toward every Rams employee for their ‘behind the scenes efforts and loyalty’ and for embracing Maria and I throughout our time here.
“I want to thank every Rams fan for their passionate support. I apologize for not bringing enough success for them to enjoy this past season. You deserve more!
“It has been a privilege and an honor to represent this franchise as its head coach and I wish nothing but success for the organization going forward. I will always pull for the Rams. Maria and I feel blessed to have been a part of this city and we’ll continue to have caring hearts for the people of St. Louis. God Bless.”
– Spagnuolo had the admiration of most at the Russell Training Center and as owner Stan Kroenke said in his statement Monday, he will be supported in everything he does in the future. Best of luck to him.
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- The Rams and GM Billy Devaney parted ways on Monday morning. But Devaney, ever the class act, took a moment to release a statement just moments ago.
– Obviously, the results weren’t what Devaney had hoped to get here but for those that were fortunate enough to be around him, I promise you we all learned a lot and had a lot of fun having him around. He will be missed. Best of luck to him in everything he does going forward.
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- The Rams announced this morning that they are replacing head coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney. Below is the full statement from owner E. Stanley Kroenke.
“I would like to personally thank Steve and Billy for their dedication to the St. Louis Rams organization over the past several seasons,” said Rams owner E. Stanley Kroenke. “This was a difficult decision for many reasons. We have tremendous respect for Steve and Billy as people and football professionals.
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- In a game the Rams appeared to have long since been out of, they found a way to battle back.
– All season, the Rams have fought to stay in games but rare was the occasion they were able to scratch their way back into a contest and actually have a legitimate shot to tie or win it late.
– But sure enough, there they were Sunday afternoon at the Edward Jones Dome against the high powered 49ers frantically rallying from a 21-point deficit. In less than two minutes, that deficit was trimmed to 7 and the Rams got the ball back with plenty of time and a chance to win it.
– Maybe it’s just the nature of the way the season has gone but that rally fell short in part because of a – wait for it- injury.
– An absolutely gutty effort from veteran QB Kellen Clemens had the Rams in position to tie it late. He had the Rams down 7 with the ball at San Francisco’s 33 and plenty of time left. Sure enough, Clemens was sacked and suffered an ankle injury that ended his game and his season. Tom Brandstater’s two pass attempts fell incomplete, ending the Rams’ hopes.
– Clemens is a self effacing, humble man and he really was as good of a pickup as your going to find at QB so late in the season. What he gave this team the past three weeks goes above and beyond expectations.
– Credit to the Rams for continuing to fight. Obviously, effort isn’t enough and wins have to come with it but considering the dire circumstances the Rams were in Sunday, their fight on Sunday was impressive.
– Another tip of the cap to the offensive line and RB Steven Jackson. They had as good a running game against a great run defense as you’ll see all year and they did it last week against another great run defense, too.
– Disappointing day for the defense. That group was great against the run but couldn’t stop the big plays in the passing game.
– Don’t know how much credit he gets in San Francisco but P Andy Lee is a machine. That guy single handedly swings field position almost every time he kicks it.
– So another season has come and gone, one in which great expectations were never close to being realized and now an offseason of question marks awaits. To all those who loyally watched and read along this year, thank you for hanging in there. It hasn’t been easy for anyone and that does not go unrecognized.
– Coming up in the next few months, we’ll have the NFL Scouting Combine and the Senior Bowl in Mobile leading up to the NFL Draft. The Rams have the No. 2 pick again this year and that figures to be prime real estate. We’ll cover it all in this corner of cyberspace and do our best to keep you up to date on all the happenings at Rams Park.
– Happy New Year, all.
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– The Rams added a 48-yard field goal to make it 27-13 San Francisco with 12:19 to play.
– The Rams got it back at their 1 after an amazing punt by P Andy Lee.
– Clemens was intercepted by Brown, his second of the day and got it back for the Niners at the Rams’ 13.
– Anthony Dixon punched it in from a yard out to make it 34-13 San Francisco with 6:30 to play.
– Clemens hit Lloyd for a 36-yard touchdown to make it 34-20 with 4:49 to go.
– The Rams recovered the onside kick at San Francisco’s 36.
– Clemens threw deep for Lloyd, who drew a pass interference penalty to give the Rams a first down at the 1.
– On the next play, Cadillac Williams punched it in to trim it to 34-27 Niners with 4:36 to play.
– San Francisco starts again at its 20.
– The Rams got the much needed three and out on a third down sack by DE James Hall and get it back at their 46.
– On third-and-10, Clemens evaded the rush and hit WR Brandon Gibson for a gain of 21 to the Niners’ 33.
– He was sacked on second down and injured, putting Tom Brandstater in on third and 17 at the 40.
– Brandstater threw incomplete twice to give it back to the Niners at their 40 with 2:37 to play.
– The Niners got the first down they needed and ran out the clock to win it 34-27.
– The Rams started in their own territory and picked up a first down on a long run from Jackson but that was all the Rams could muster as they punted it back.
– San Francisco took over at its 9.
– A sack by S Darian Stewart killed that drive and the Rams got it back again at their 20.
– K Josh Brown booted a 49-yard field goal to make it 20-10 San Francisco with 5:04 to go in the third quarter.
– The Niners responded by scoring on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Akers to Crabtree on a fake field goal. The extra point made it 27-10.
– That’s where we stand at the end of three quarters.
– Clemens made a nice play to avoid pressure and hit TE Lance Kendricks for 19 yards at the end of the first.
– The Rams start the second with a first down at their 32.
– On third and 3 from the 39, the Rams attempted some trickery as RB Jerious Norwood looked to pass on a deep throwback to Clemens, running down the sideline. But the Niners were all over it and CB Tarell Brown picked it off and returned it to the Rams’ 34.
– Two completions to Crabtree, including a 28-yard catch and run resulted in another touchdown to make it 14-7 Niners with 13:05 to go in the half.
– The Rams went three and out again as a penalty and a sack pushed them back to the 10.
– San Francisco takes over again as Jones punted from his own end zone.
– The Niners start from their 33.
– They moved quickly on a 44-yard strike to Davis but settled for Akers’ 36-yard field goal to make it 17-7.
– The Rams started from their 20 and picked up a first down via penalty before a fumbled snap and dropped pass ended it.
– Jones punted back to the Niners, who get it again at their 34.
– The Rams got a three and out and get it back at their 20.
– They went three and out. San Francisco gets it back at its 44.
– The Niners managed another field goal from Akers, this time from 42 yards out to make it 20-7 San Francisco with a minute to go in the half.
– On first down from the 20, Clemens hit Jackson on a screen for a gain of 15.
– The drive died soon after as the Rams couldn’t pick up 2 yards on two attempts from their 43.
– San Francisco got it back at its 20 with 13 seconds to go in the half.
– At the half, the Niners lead it 20-7.
– Rams kick off to open the game.
– San Francisco starts from its 22.
– QB Alex Smith hit TE Vernon Davis for 9 on first down.
– That combination hooked up for gains of 5 and 9 before Smith hit WR Michael Crabtree for a gain of 16 to the Rams’ 36.
– On third-and-4, Smith threw incomplete, setting up a 48-yard field goal for K David Akers.
– Akers missed it wide right, giving the ball to the Rams at their 38.
– Clemens hit WR Brandon Lloyd for 24 yards on the second play of the drive to San Francisco’s 38.
– RB Steven Jackson ripped off runs of 7 and 10 yards to the Niners’ 21.
– On third-and-7 from San Francisco’s 18, Clemens took off running to the right, he juked one defender and instead of sliding, dived into the end zone for a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead with 6:20 to go in the first quarter.
– The Rams defense got a three and out, forcing Andy Lee to punt. He boomed one 66 yards inside the 10 that went out of bounds at the 8, where the Rams take over.
– The offense went three and out as Justin Smith picked up a sack on third down to force a punt.
– The Niners got it back at the St. Louis 33.
– Given that field position, the Niners took full advantage.
– Smith hit Hunter for 11 yards and Crabtree for 10 to set up first and goal at the 10.
– On third and goal at the 8, Smith fell down, which actually opened things up for him and he was able to scramble for the yards and a touchdown to tie it at 7 with 37 seconds to go in the quarter.
– At the end of one, this one is tied at 7.
– Greetings from the Edward Jones Dome where the Rams and 49ers are preparing for today’s kickoff.
– First of all, Happy New Year to all. Hope 2012 brings you much prosperity.
– No surprise here but the Rams will not have the services of QBs Sam Bradford (ankle) or A.J. Feeley (thumb). It will be Kellen Clemens starting for the third consecutive game with Tom Brandstater as his backup.
– Bradford’s ankle just never came around and he will have played just 10 games this season.
– The Rams inactives: Bradford, Feeley, CB Justin King (shoulder), T Kevin Hughes, TE Ben Guidugli, TE Mike McNeill, CB Nate Ness.
– The Rams are wearing gold pants, blue jerseys for today’s finale.
– San Francisco’s inactives: QB Scott Tolzien, WR Kyle Williams, WR Ted Ginn Jr., CB Shawntae Spencer, TE Delanie Walker, G Mike Person, NT Ian Williams.
– Stay tuned for updates throughout the game.
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