5 Late-Round Sleepers Who Would Be Perfect for St. Louis Rams

Steven GerwelContributor IIIJanuary 27, 2014

5 Late-Round Sleepers Who Would Be Perfect for St. Louis Rams

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    Great drafting involves more than just finding superstars in the first round. Any boozed-up fan can step in and make first- and second-round selections for a team and experience moderate success. 

    But what separates the great teams from the basement dwellers is the ability to identify competent starters late in the draft. 

    In 2012, St. Louis found wide receiver Chris Givens in the fourth round and kicker Greg Zuerlein in the sixth round. Givens is a starter on offense, and Zuerlein has already established himself as one of the better kickers in the league. 

    In 2013, the Rams found Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy in the fifth round. Stacy had 1,114 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns as a rookie. He appears to be a long-term answer at the running back position. 

    The Rams will attempt to find similar talent in the 2014 draft. Here are several late-round options possibly on their radar. 

LB Devon Kennard, USC

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    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 255 Pounds

    Projected Round: 6-7

     

    When it comes to late-round draft picks, it's ideal to find a player with low stock but monster potential. Devon Kennard certainly fits that description. 

    Kennard played in the Army All-American game and was considered one of the top defensive prospects in the country coming out of high school. He possesses raw talent—something that cannot be taught—and has elite potential. 

    Not only is he a great athlete, but he's also a leader. USC named Kennard one of four team captains in 2013, according to the Los Angeles Times

    Kennard missed the 2012 season with a torn chest muscle, according to ESPN Los Angeles, and injury concerns will lower his stock. 

    If the Rams cannot re-sign free agent Jo-Lonn Dunbar, they'll need to find another linebacker to compete with Ray-Ray Armstrong. 

WR Ryan Grant, Tulane

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 191 Pounds

    Projected Round: 6-7

     

    Successful late-round drafting involves spotting small-school gems on Day 3. As of now, Tulane's Ryan Grant appears to fall into that category. 

    Grant had back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns in his final two years at Tulane and recorded 21 career touchdowns. 

    If Grant can produce an eye-opening performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, he may hear his name called in the second or third round. If not, he'll remain a late-round option. 

    The Rams already have Stedman Bailey and Chris Givens, who both have similar skill sets to Grant. This may discourage the Rams from pursuing Grant, but they'll be willing to pull the trigger if he's still on the board in the final round.

RB Rajion Neal, Tennessee

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    Height: 5'11"

    Weight: 212 Pounds

    Projected Round: 4-6

     

    Stacy led the Rams in rushing as a rookie with 973 yards and will only get better with experience, but St. Louis still needs depth. 

    Benny Cunningham flashed some potential as the team's No. 2 back, but the Rams could benefit from adding another back to compete with Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. 

    Rajion Neal battled an ankle injury as a junior in 2012, according to Times Free Press, but had a breakout year in 2013 with 1,124 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. 

    Since Jeff Fisher took over in 2012, the Rams have selected a Day 3 running back in each of the past two drafts. Due to the disappointing production from Pead and Richardson in 2013, it's highly likely St. Louis will select a late-round back for a third consecutive year. 

    Neal is capable of relieving Stacy with five or so carries a game. If Stacy goes down with an injury, Neal has the ability to step in and carry the load. 

WR L'Damian Washington, Missouri

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 205 Pounds

    Projected Round: 4-6

     

    The 6'3" Brian Quick was drafted in 2012 to be a red-zone target for Sam Bradford. With just two touchdowns in 2013, Quick has not provided the red-zone presence St. Louis was hoping for.

    L'Damian Washington led Missouri in receiving yards (893) and finished second on the team in touchdowns with 10. Only Dorial Green-Beckham hauled in more scores for the Tigers (12).

    Washington is a dangerous deep-ball threat who averaged 17.9 yards a catch, and he was a monster touchdown threat inside the 20-yard line.

    Washington needs plenty of work with short and intermediate routes, which is why his stock will drop. But his ability to catch the long ball and score inside the red zone makes him an attractive option for St. Louis. 

QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 209 Pounds

    Projected Round: 6-7

     

    Rams backup quarterback Kellen Clemens did an admirable job in 2013 and surprisingly went 4-5 as a starter, but St. Louis can do better than Clemens. 

    If the Rams do not add AJ McCarron (Alabama) or Tajh Boyd (Clemson) in the third round or later, they'll likely pursue a late-round option to compete for the No. 2 quarterback job. 

    Connor Shaw was one of the more underrated collegiate passers in 2013. He passed for 24 touchdowns with just one interception last season. He finished his South Carolina career with a combined 66.5 percent completion rate. 

    Shaw also offers mobility as a quarterback. He rushed for six touchdown in 2013 and rushed for 17 total touchdowns throughout his college career. 

    When South Carolina played Missouri, the Gamecocks were shut out 17-0 through the first three quarters with Shaw on the sidelines nursing a knee injury.  

    Shaw decided to tough it out and make a fourth-quarter appearance. The South Carolina offense produced 17 points in the final quarter, including two passing touchdowns by Shaw, and forced the game into double overtime. 

    Shaw threw a third touchdown in overtime, and South Carolina escaped with a narrow victory over Missouri.

    In just over one quarter of play, Shaw managed to single-handedly manufacture a comeback and knocked off the No. 5-ranked team in the country. 

    He may lack elite measurables, but Shaw plays with heart and has the will to win. He is an interesting late-round option for St. Louis, to say the least.