Tuesday, July 26, 2011

St. Louis Rams Undrafted Rookie Signings

One of the more talked about players who went undrafted last April— along with linebacker Mark Herzlich (Boston College) and Noel Divine (West Virginia)— is running back Derrick Locke of the Kentucky Wildcats.

Locke has amazingly recorded a 4.29 second 40 yard dash, and it has been rumored that he has done it in 4.21 seconds.

So naturally, Rams fans were thrilled when rumors circulated that they were about to acquire Locke, who could have been a dangerous outside runner for them, and possibly even a weapon in the return game.

But disappointment was widespread today after the rumors fell through, and Locke eventually announced that he's signing with the Minnesota Vikings.

Although the Rams lost one of the most intriguing rookie free agents available, they are still searching for a diamond in the rough with their other signings:
Taylor Potts (QB, Texas Tech)
Basically, Taylor Potts will be another arm for training camp, and he'll compete for a spot on the roster.

The Rams have Sam Bradford starting, obviously, and veteran A.J. Feeley as the backup. Last year they had Thad Lewis as the third string quarterback, and many fans are hoping he can develop into a possible wildcat option, but that will take some time.

Pott will compete with Lewis for the third string job. The advantage he had over Lewis is that he is 6'5" and 222 pounds, and is more of a pure passer.

The short and quick passes he used at Texas Tech is particularly appealing, since the Rams run an offense that uses short and intermediate routes.
Dionte Dinkins (CB, Fort Valley State)

Dionte Dinkins is a no name defensive back from a small school, but the Rams are certainly looking for depth in their defensive backfield, which is obvious given that three out of the last four players they drafted in April were defensive backs.

Along with seventh round picks Mikail Baker and Jonathan Nelson, Dinkins will compete for a spot as a backup, and he will have to contribute on special teams if he wants a roster spot.

At 6'1" and 195 pounds, Dinkins also has decent size and fits the mold of a cornerback in Steve Spagnuolo's system.

Arthur Thomas (DT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff)

The Rams have been able to find some unknown defensive linemen with promising potential, such as C.J. Ah You, Jermelle Cudjo and Gary Gibson—who was actually a 16 game starter last season.

Steve Spagnuolo will attempt to find another gem in defensive tackle Arthur Thomas.

There is not a lot of information out there on Thomas, but he is known as a dedicated worker. The coaching staff will attempt to turn him into a rotational guy somewhere down the road, but he could be an asset on special teams in the meantime.

Bryant Browning (OG, Ohio State)

The Rams certainly need an upgrade at offensive guard over the current starter Adam Goldberg, and while it's unclear if Bryant Bowling is capable of upgrading the position, he certainly will be given the chance to prove that he's an overlooked lineman capable of playing at the NFL level.

Browning was a three-year starter for the Ohio State Buckeyes, and it's encouraging that he played at a major program, as the adjustment won't be as drastic.

On top of being a starter, he was also a team captain in 2010, which means he has the personality that the Rams look for in players.

Schuylar Oordt (TE, Northern Iowa)

Between Mike Hoomanawanui, Daniel Fells, Billy Bajema, Fendi Onobun and the 2011 second round draft pick Lance Kendricks, the Rams should be set at tight end.

But even though there is a lot of competition at the position, the Rams still don't have a premiere tight end rotation, which is why they'll continue to look for help at the position until some of the current players begin to establish themselves on the field.

Schulyar Oordt went to a small school in the Missouri Valley Conference, but he demonstrated an impressive play making ability for a tight end.

His profile on the Northern Iowa website points out that he averaged 18.6 yards per catch throughout his college career, and he finished the 2010 season with 405 yards and three touchdowns.

Oordt will most likely compete for a spot on the practice squad, but the most valuable thing Oordt can do is motivate Fendi Onobun.

If Onobun can feel some pressure, then the coaching staff might be able to turn his amazing physical talents into production.

Other Rookie Free Agent Signings

Randall Hunt (OG, Illinois)

Travon Bellamy (CB, Illinois)

Beau Warren (C, Virginia Tech)

Karri Kuuttila (OT, Lock Haven)

Updates will be made if and when any new signings are confirmed.

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