Rams host parade of pre-draft visitors

By Jim Thomas jthomas@post-dispatch.com

The draft still is five weeks away, but it’s that time of year. Time for the parade of pre-draft visits at Rams Park.

Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State is making once such visit today. Benjamin, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the BCS championship game against Auburn, finished with 54 catches for 1,011 yards last season. He averaged 18.7 yards per catch, with 15 touchdowns. At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, he is huge by wide receiver standards.

Benjamin is the eighth player known to be making a “top 30” visit to Rams Park. Offensive tackles Greg Robinson of Auburn and Taylor Lewan of Michigan; cornerback Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State; linebacker Ryan Shazier of Ohio State and defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt of Notre Dame made visits this week.

In addition, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney told reporters after his pro day that he has a visit planned with the Rams. Coach Jeff Fisher said at the NFL owners meetings last week that Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews was making a pre-draft visit as well.

There is no visit scheduled at this time for Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, but the Rams are said to be considering a private workout.

Teams are allowed to bring in as many as 30 draft prospects, hence the term “top 30” visit. Players cannot work out for the team during these visits.

However, draft prospects are allowed to work out for teams if they qualify for “local” visits. In the case of the Rams, those players must be from the St. Louis area. Tight end/fullback Reggie Jordan of Missouri Western State and Hazelwood Central High will be making a local visit sometime this month.

DRAFT ORDER

Following the awarding of compensatory picks last week, the NFL has announced the selection order for next month’s draft. The Rams have 12 picks, and the order breaks down as follows:

Round 1 • No. 2 (from Washington), No. 13

Round 2 • No. 44

Round 3 • No. 75

Round 4 • No. 110

Round 5 • No. 153

Round 6 • No. 188 and No. 214 (compensatory pick)

Round 7 • No. 226, No. 241 (from Indianapolis), No. 249 (compensatory pick), No. 250 (compensatory pick)

If all or most of those players make the 53-man roster the Rams could begin as the youngest team in the league for the third consecutive season.

“We probably anticipate being once again the youngest team,” Fisher said. “You’d like to say you could hit on all 12 (draft picks), but when it’s all said and done we may not make 12 selections.”

Meaning, of course, trades.

The team’s three compensatory picks cannot be dealt via league rule. But the other nine are fair game for the wheeling and dealing Fisher and general manager Les Snead have become known for in their previous two Rams drafts.

PLAY DOUGH

Defensive tackle Alex Carrington, a former Buffalo Bill, signed a one-year deal with the Rams worth $1.5 million. One million of that total is guaranteed. He has a base salary of $1 million and received a $500,000 roster bonus March 30. He can double the value of the contract if he meets a variety of incentives, including playing time, sack totals, and team success.
• Quarterback Shaun Hill, a former Detroit Lion, signed a one-year deal worth $1.75 million. It includes a $500,000 bonus.

PRACTICE DATES

The league has also announced the offseason practice schedules all 32 teams. The Rams will hold 10 OTA (organized team activities) sessions — on June 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 16, 17, 19 and 20. These workouts are closed to the public.
In addition to those full-squad practices, the Rams are scheduled to hold a rookie minicamp in mid May.

Again, there is no mandatory minicamp scheduled for veterans.