Ohio State's Ginn piques Rams' interest
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Thursday, Apr. 12 2007
Rams Park was oozing with return ability Wednesday. No less than five draft prospects with at least one kickoff or punt return for a touchdown in college had visits with the team.
Why then, did a five-man Rams contingent zip over to Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday to watch ... a return man?
The answer: Ted Ginn Jr.
Coach Scott Linehan, offensive coordinator Greg Olson, wide receivers coach Henry Ellard, special teams coach Al Roberts and vice president of player personnel Tony Softli were there to watch Ginn's eagerly awaited pro day.
When last seen on a football field, Ginn returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown for Ohio State against Florida in the Bowl Championship Series title game.
But Ginn suffered a sprained left foot during a post-touchdown celebratory pileup. That was the last of Ginn against Florida, and as it turned out, the last of him as a college player.
The wide receiver-return phenom turned pro after his junior season. But the injury prevented him from working out at the NFL scouting combine in February and Ohio State's regularly scheduled pro day in March. On Wednesday, Ginn put on a one-man show in a workout held at the Buckeyes' indoor football facility.
On a surface regarded as a fast track, Ginn ran the 40-yard dash in just under 4.40 seconds. That's considered slow for him. But according to the Columbus Dispatch, Ginn's father said his son is only about 75 percent to 80 percent healthy.
"It confirmed he's still not 100 percent," Linehan said. "But he ran a 4.4 with a bad foot and couldn't finish the workout. We're really not concerned with it."
With scouts from more than half the NFL teams in attendance, the general perception was that no one went away disappointed. Mid-foot sprains can take a long time to heal, and Ginn probably needs a few more weeks to reach full strength. Ginn spent some time speaking with the Rams' contingent. He has made no pre-draft visits to NFL cities this spring.
While factoring in the "smokescreen" possibility — remember all the Rams talk about Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler last year? — the prospect of the Rams selecting Ginn in the first round isn't far-fetched. That's particularly true if a trade for Carolina defensive tackle Kris Jenkins materializes before the draft.
Under that scenario, the Rams would have fulfilled their most pressing need — a defensive tackle — and basically would have lots of flexibility in the first round.
Ginn had eight kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns in three seasons at Ohio State.
Whether the Rams make the bold move for Ginn, there's little doubt that Linehan is serious about improving the team's return game. The guest list for visits Tuesday and Wednesday at Rams Park included:
— Miami (Ohio) wide receiver Ryne Robinson, who returned seven punts for TDs in college. His 1,677 punt return yards is the second-highest career total in NCAA Division I-A.
— Kansas State wide receiver Yamon Figurs, who ran a sizzling 4.30 at the combine and averaged 14.7 yards on punt returns and 22.6 yards on kickoff returns last season.
— Maryland cornerback Josh Wilson, who averaged 27.3 yards on kickoff returns last season, including a 100-yard TD against Georgia Tech.
— Pittsburgh cornerback Darrell Revis, who had a college career average of 10.3 yards per punt return, including touchdowns of 73 and 79 yards.
— Wide receiver Jacoby Jones of Lane (Tenn.) College, who had nearly 1,200 yards and three touchdowns returning kickoffs and punts last season.