The football equivalent of the day after Thanksgiving came and went Monday
with the Rams adding 19 undrafted free agents to their draft feast of eight
additions brought in over the weekend.
Included in the group of additions are four receivers, a running back, one
tight end, two offensive linemen, four defensive backs, two defensive ends, a
kicker, a fullback, two linebackers and a quarterback.
There are no sons of movie stars such as John David Washington or former
big-time college basketball players like Ed Nelson this season, but there seems
to be some intriguing names in this year’s group.
The most recognizable name in the group is Iowa quarterback Drew Tate. Tate
started three seasons for the Hawkeyes, piling up 8,237 passing yards with 60
touchdown passes and 34 interceptions.
Tate is a bit on the small side (perhaps why he went undrafted) at 6-foot,
192 pounds, but possesses good athleticism and accuracy. He will be expected to
compete with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the third quarterback job in training camp.
At receiver, the team brought in four players to compete in training camp,
potentially for a sixth receiver spot, or for positions on the practice squad
considering the team’s current depth at the position. North Carolina State’s
Lamart Barrett, Wake Forest’s Nate Morton, Hofstra’s Shaine Smith and Texas
State’s Markee White form the quartet of young receivers that will be joining
seventh-round choice Derek Stanley in St. Louis.
Barrett had 77 catches for 845 yards and no touchdowns in his four seasons
with the Wolfpack. Morton racked up 117 receptions for 1,650 yards and seven
touchdowns in four seasons with the Demon Deacons.
Smith played just two seasons for the Pride, but he was extremely productive
in his final year after making little impact in 2005. He caught 60 passes for
951 yards and nine touchdowns just a year after making only a single catch for 8
yards. At 6’3 with blazing speed, Smith is the type of project that receivers
coach Henry Ellard loves to sink his teeth into.
White did not play for the Bobcats in 2006, but played basketball and
football for the team in 2005. White brings tremendous size to the position at
6’7, 205 pounds. In 2005, he led the team with 56 catches for 786 yards and five
touchdowns. He graduated after the 2005 season.
After drafting Brian Leonard in the second round to be a hybrid back and
backup to Steven Jackson, the Rams added competition at fullback for incumbent
Madison Hedgecock in the form of Boise State’s Brad Lau.
Lau was the lead blocker for star runner Ian Johnson in Boise State’s magical
run to the Fiesta Bowl win last season and chipped in 47 rushing yards and a
touchdown in 2006.
At tailback, the team picked up Robert Hubbard of Nevada. Hubbard had a pair
of solid seasons for the Wolfpack, rushing for 996 yards in 2006 to follow a
2005 year in which he posted 719 yards. He scored 21 touchdowns in those two
At tight end, the Rams added Pittsburgh’s Steve Buches to an already crowded
group. Buches’ four seasons with the Panthers netted 52 catches for 591 yards
and 10 touchdowns.
On the offensive line, the Rams added a pair of developmental prospects to
the interior after drafting Clemson’s Dustin Fry in the fifth round.
Washington’s Stanley Daniels and Massachusetts’ David Thompson are the newest
projects for offensive line coach Paul Boudreau to tutor.
Daniels moved to guard from the defensive line before the 2003 season and
went on to play in 36 games, starting 24. Thompson is a 6’3, 310 pound guard who
started at right guard for all 49 games of his career with the Minutemen, where
he became one of the most decorated linemen in school history.
the other side of the ball, the Rams added another pair lineman to the mix by
signing LSU end Ryan Willis and Albany State's Alton Pettway. Willis was a
backup to Chase Pittman (who was drafted over the weekend) for the Tigers but
produced when given an opportunity. He had a pair of sacks in 2005 filling in
for Pittman and will be expected to compete on the end for the Rams.
Pettway was a "Little All American" in 2006 and a candidate for the Harlon
Hill trophy, which is given to the best defensive player in Division II. He
finished 2006 with 14.5 sacks and seems to have some sleeper potential as an
edge rusher, a spot that the Rams have been looking for help.
It came as a bit of a surprise that the Rams didn’t grab a linebacker in the
draft, but they made up for it by signing a pair Monday. Mississippi State’s
Quinton Culberson and West Virginia’s Kevin McLee were the newest additions
Culberson had a successful stint for the Bulldogs, playing in 42 games with
278 tackles, a pair of sacks and four interceptions. Culberson is a middle
linebacker at 6-foot, 236 pounds and could push for a roster spot considering
the Rams’ need for depth in the middle.
McLee was a Butkus Award candidate heading into the 2006 season while working
on the outside. McLee comes from strong bloodlines. His father, Kevin McLee Sr.,
played running back for Georgia and had a cup of coffee with Tampa Bay in the
NFL. The younger McLee was West Virginia’s leading tackler last season with 79
stops, adding three sacks and an interception.
At defensive back, the Rams added at least one player at each position with
Alabama free safety Jeffery Dukes, Kent State strong safety Andre Kirklan,
Arkansas cornerback Darius Vinnett and Villanova cornerback Terrance Reaves
coming on board.
Dukes led the Tide with 74 tackles in 2006 and picked up three interceptions
in 12 starts. He could challenge for a roster spot because of the Rams’ need for
depth at free safety behind starter Oshiomogho Atogwe.
Kirkland was an all conference performer for the Golden Flashes for his
performance as a senior when he posted 104 tackles with 13.5 tackles for loss
and three sacks. He will get a shot to compete with Jerome Carter for a backup
Vinnett is only 5’9, but is sticky in coverage and possesses good speed. He
struggled with knee tendonitis in 2005, but bounced back in 2006. Vinnett
clocked a 4.39-second 40-yard dash and has potential to compete for one of the
final roster spots at corner or a spot on the practice squad.
Reaves played safety and cornerback for the Wildcats, with equal success on
both sides. At 6'1, 205 pounds, Reaves figures to compete at any and all
While there isn’t much need for help at kicker considering Jeff Wilkins’
continued production, the Rams did find another leg to ease his load during this
year’s training camp, signing Cincinnati’s Kevin Lovell. Lovell set a school
record for consecutive extra points by converting 79 in a row and finished with
73 points to lead the Bearcats in 2006.