It’s becoming a common theme early in the scouting process for multiple teams to congregate at smaller schools hoping to identify a lesser-known prospect that has a chance to ascend as the season progresses. The school that was targeted late last week was Colorado State, where representatives from the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings were in attendance to watch practice.
Colorado State has only produced a handful of first round picks since the inception of the NFL Draft, and judging from this year’s grouping of Rams, there isn’t a first rounder among the assembled. But if you’re interested in mid-to-late round offensive linemen, who can add depth to a roster and potentially challenge for a starting role down the line, the senior talent in Fort Collins will generate interest all year long.
The Rams have the most experienced offensive line in the nation; a unit that has 125 career starts among them. The lineman with the most promise and the highest rated prospect on the team is guard Shelley Smith. At 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, Smith is an outstanding athlete who possesses quick feet and good technique. He does a nice job of sealing the interior, uses his hands well and doesn’t allow the opposition to get in on him. Entering his third year as a starter, Smith had a great junior campaign where he didn’t allow a sack and graded out over 90-percent in every contest. He was bothered by an ankle injury all year, but he didn’t allow it to disrupt his game and helped pave the way for Gartrell Johnson to amass over 1,000 yards.
In addition to Smith, the Rams have three more linemen that will receive attention from NFL scouts throughout the season and leading up to the draft; center Tim Walter, guard Adrian Martinez and tackle Cole Pemberton. Of the three, Walter is the only one that appears in Scout.com’s NFL Draft Rankings; he’s rated as the 20th rated center.Wide receiver Dion Morton, the 20th rated wide receiver by Scout.com, and safety Klint Kubiak, the 43rd rated safety by Scout.com, will also be monitored by scouts during their observations.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.