East-West Shrine Bowl: Top Prospects to Watch for Rams
Who should the Los Angeles Rams be paying close attention to during Thursday night’s East-West Shrine Bowl?
The Los Angeles Rams haven’t had a first-round pick since selecting quarterback Jared Goff in 2016 … but the NFL Draft remains an integral part of team building, especially as the Rams search to add depth.
Los Angeles is currently slated to have 10 selections, eight of which come on the draft’s third and final day, featuring rounds four to seven.
As such, Rams scouts have been and will continue scouring the country for under-the-radar talent who can help take the team back to the postseason following a disappointing 5-12 campaign.
One event that fits that bill is the East-West Shrine Bowl, set to kick off at 5:30 p.m. (PT) on Thursday night at the Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium.
The Shrine Bowl is one of the premiere draft showcase events and had 45 future draft picks on the field a year ago, many of which came on Day 3.
Following four days of practice in Las Vegas, some of the top players in attendance have begun to shine through – and here are some the Rams are poised to keep an eye on during Thursday’s game.
BJ Thompson, Defensive End, Stephen F. Austin
Rams general manager Les Snead has shown an affinity for taking swings on traits late in the draft and Thompson certainly checks that box. At 6-5, 238 points, Thompson’s testing numbers include a 4.56 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical and 11’3″ broad jump.
But beyond the athletic tools, Thompson has stood out on the East team’s practice field all week, winning with speed around the edge and showing the ability to counter on inside moves. He’s also been able to drop into coverage when needed.
In essence, Thompson offers athleticism, versatility, upside and the ability to rush the passer, all of which should be right up Los Angeles’ alley.
Spencer Anderson, Offensive Lineman, Maryland
The Rams just endured a brutal season on the offensive line, with injuries coming up left and right … so how about Anderson? An undefeated chess player, Anderson played all five positions up front for the Terrapins and has been the best offensive lineman on the East team all week.
With intelligence, versatility, athleticism and power, Anderson projects nicely to be at least a stout reserve, which proved to be an area in need of improvement this past season.
Kazmeir Allen, Running Back, UCLA
Beyond the local connection, Allen makes plenty of sense for the Rams. He has experience playing both running back and receiver and did both throughout the week of practices – just imagine what coach Sean McVay could do with the all-time single-season California high school touchdowns leader (72) who once ran 10.3 100 meters.
Playing on the West team, Allen impressed with his hands, quickness and speed, and he’s been a standout playmaker throughout his career. Further, he provides return ability, was instant offense at times for UCLA and told Ram Digest that he doesn’t feel the need to be a featured piece to make an impact.
Los Angeles’ offense revolves around receiver Cooper Kupp, and while tight end Tyler Higbee, running back Cam Akers, receiver/offensive weapon Ben Skowronek and receiver Van Jefferson are all steady contributors, Allen’s big-play ability would be a welcomed addition.
Dante Stills, Defensive Tackle, West Virginia
The biggest knock on Stills, an explosive interior player who’s an all-around game wrecker and dominated Shrine Bowl practice, is his size – he’s 6-3 1/2, 289 pounds, making him something of a “tweener.”
While nobody’s saying that Stills is Aaron Donald, it’s worth noting that Los Angeles has found ways to feature the seven-time All-Pro, and with a need to add interior pass rush help alongside him, Stills becomes an intriguing possibility.
Princeton Fant, Tight End, Tennessee
The Rams could certainly use depth behind Higbee, and Fant would be a lot of fun in McVay’s offense. At 6-1, 238 pounds, Fant is undersized – but he’s athletic, can play the “F” tight end role in space and had five rushing touchdowns last season for the Volunteers.
Giving McVay athletic playmakers with the ability to align in multiple roles would only help take Los Angeles’ offense to a new level and add an element of explosiveness to the passing game that seemed to lack in 2022.
The Shrine Bowl will be televised live on NFL Network … and the Rams, along with the rest of the league, are sure to be tuned in.
You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft
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