Rams Report: Combine Standouts
By Shlomo Sprung
The annual combine in Indianapolis is always a giant circus of stopwatches, Wonderlic tests, interviews and arbitrary measures that determine whether a certain player is a proper fit for an NFL team. How does each team value a player? If a lineman has a certain 40-yard dash time, but can only lift a certain weight a certain number of times, does that increase or decrease a player's standing on its respective draft board?
There are so many factors that go into a player's value to a team, so it would be rather foolish to determine with a high degree of certainty which players impressed the Rams. However, I'll do my best to list prospects at the Rams' key positions of need that had good showings last week.
D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama: Fluker's showing led him to move up mock drafts on the web with a respectable 40-yard dash and heavy lifting marks for someone who weighs 339 pounds. He's the fourth-ranked tackle on Mike Mayock's positional board, and will go in the first round (offensive linemen are expected to dominate the first 30 picks). The Rams hold two first-round selections, so shoring up the offensive line has to be seriously considered.
Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina: If the team doesn't re-sign or replace Steven Jackson in free agency, there will be a gaping hole there. St. Louis may be enticed to draft a running back to supplement Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead if a solution can't be reached in free agency. One person to consider will be Bernard, a combine star in the 40-yard dash, the 60-yard shuttle and the vertical jump. He can likely be taken on the second day and has left many scouts intrigued.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: Austin was second in the nation in receptions last season with 114 for the Mountaineers, and dazzled onlookers at the combine with a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash, along with quality bench press and 20-yard shuttle times. The Rams could get themselves a Danny Amendola replacement, a player that could actually stay healthy toward the top of the second round. He's certainly one of the most interesting players in the draft.
Sio Moore, LB, Connecticut: The team could use support at the linebacker position and one sleeper to consider is 4-3 outside linebacker Sio Moore, Mayock's fourth-rated player at the position. He had 29, 225-pound bench press lifts at the combine (second among linebackers) and was a strong performer in the broad jump and the three-cone drill.
Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse: Thomas moved into Mayock's top five list of safeties after leading his position at the combine in bench press reps (28). He also excelled in the 20-yard shuttle and ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash. Thomas could be a candidate to compete with Craig Dahl and Quintin Mikell at the position.