5 Late-Round Sleepers Who Would Be Perfect for the St. Louis Rams
Building an excellent roster requires wise decision-making in the early rounds, but the best teams also fortify the depth by finding late-round gems.
If the Rams want to compete in 2015 and beyond, it's going to take more than securing a top talent with the No. 10 overall selection. The team must utilize proper scouting and bring in some low-key talent in the later rounds.
St. Louis has improved in this area lately, at least compared to recent years. The Rams drafted receiver Chris Givens in the fourth round of 2012, and he has been a moderate contributor. Running back Zac Stacy was drafted in the fifth round of 2013, and he had over 1,000 yards from scrimmage as a rookie. In 2014, the team grabbed cornerback E.J. Gaines in the sixth, and he was a full-time starter this past season.
Beyond the draft, the Rams also managed to sign multiple undrafted rookies who made the roster in 2014, such as tight ends Alex Bayer and Justice Cunningham, as well as defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks.
The Rams have been solid at finding low-key contributors, but they needs more than that. It's time for the team to hit the lottery and find the next late-round Pro Bowler.
There's no sure-fire way to determine which of the many overlooked players will explode onto the scene and surprise everyone, but the Rams at least need to try.
This article will highlight several possible late-rounders capable of becoming household names at the NFL level.
G Laken Tomlinson, Duke
The Rams need lots of help on the offensive line, but it's going to require more than big contracts in free agency and high draft picks. The team must also address the position later in the draft.
Laken Tomlinson is considered a late-round gem at the moment, but his stock is surely on the rise. According to Mike Mayock, via NFL.com, Tomlinson was particularly impressive at the Senior Bowl and even held his own against Washington's Danny Shelton, who is frequently marked as a first-round talent.
Despite living in an undesirable neighborhood, Tomlinson showed promise. His mentor, youth worker Bob Sperling, took notice and began to steer Tomlinson in the right direction.
With the help of Sperling, Tomlinson was able to test into a better high school outside of his neighborhood, and that's where he began his football career. He excelled, ended up at Duke and is now on the verge of doing the unthinkable by starting an unlikely NFL career.
Tomlinson clearly has a lot of fight in him, and that's what the Rams should look for in the late rounds.
It's possible his stock will soar and he'll become a Day 2 pick. If not, he should certainly be on St. Louis' radar in the fourth or fifth round.
DT Tyeler Davison, Fresno State
This current Rams team is dependent on elite defensive line play. It's the keystone of the team's blueprint to success. If the front four fails, the rest of the team follows.
So, while it's easy to presume that the Rams are set on the defensive line and should focus resources elsewhere, that's not the case. The Rams must keep feeding the beast, even if it neglects other positions.
That's not to say they should spend another first-rounder on a defensive lineman, but the team should certainly be on the lookout for late-round gems capable of being developed.
Tyeler Davison of Fresno State is one of those guys.
Davison was a three-year starter for the Bulldogs. He accumulated 15.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks in his career, including an eight-sack campaign in 2014. He has the pass-rush skills the Rams look for in interior linemen.
With Kendall Langford possibly becoming a cap casualty and Michael Brockers nearing free agency, the Rams need someone besides Aaron Donald who can be counted on long term.
Since the Rams are currently stacked on the defensive line, Davison will have the luxury of learning behind some of the best pass-rushers in the game, and that will help him reach his potential.
C Reese Dismukes, Auburn
Since the Rams obsess over Auburn players and are in desperate need of a center, Reese Dismukes is a name that has frequently been associated with the team early this offseason.
However, while he was initially viewed as a solid Day 2 option, his recent stumble in the Senior Bowl could knock him back a peg.
The disastrous showing could make Dismukes untouchable in the early rounds, but it's too early to write him off completely after one lousy event. He still has value in the later rounds, and the Rams need to keep him on the draft board.
QB Brandon Bridge, South Alabama
The Rams are not going to solve the quarterback position with a Day 3 selection, but that doesn't mean the team should cease all scouting of late-round signal-callers.
If the team somehow finds a reliable competitor for Sam Bradford through free agency or trade, it would still be wise to invest in an overlooked draft prospect with limitless potential, such as South Alabama's Brandon Bridge.
Bridge is a shocking physical specimen built in the same mold as Cam Newton, only far less refined. He stands at 6'5" and 235 pounds, and, like Newton, he can make plays with his legs. He also has a rocket arm, though his passing stats were far from gaudy in 2014 (1,927 yards, 15 touchdowns, eight interceptions).
The Rams don't have the luxury of patience when it comes to the quarterback position, so that makes Bridge a risky option. However, if he is one of two or three new quarterbacks brought in this offseason, that'll make this scenario easier to swallow.
RB David Cobb, Minnesota
The Minnesota Gophers surprised the NCAA by ranking as high as No. 22 in the nation and securing a spot in the Citrus Bowl against the Missouri Tigers. A big reason for the team's success was a productive running game led by David Cobb.
According to his player profile, Cobb set a single-season rushing record for Minnesota with a remarkable 1,626-yard campaign in 2014, including 13 rushing touchdowns.
Cobb also played well against top-notch opponents. He torched Ohio State for 145 yards, and he had a 118-yard performance against Wisconsin two weeks later.
The Rams have two young, capable backs with starting experience in Tre Mason and Zac Stacy, but St. Louis greatly values the run game, so don't think drafting a back is not an option. In fact, the team has drafted a running back every year since Jeff Fisher took over.
If Cobb is still available during Day 3, he should certainly be a topic of conversation at Rams Park.
Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams' game-day correspondent. You can find more of Gerwel's work by visiting his writer profile or by following him on Twitter.