EARTH CITY, Mo. -- At this time of year, it's often difficult to discern what's real and what's not when it comes to a team's interest in a draft prospect. But if the St. Louis Rams aren't interested in Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, they're certainly going well out of their way to throw the rest of the league off the scent.
Capping off a week in which they already hosted Watkins on a visit to Rams Park, a large Rams contingent traveled to Clemson, S.C., on Friday to put Watkins through the paces of a private workout.
That the Rams are showing such strong interest guarantees nothing in terms of drafting him, of course, but it's worth noting what similar interest has meant in recent drafts, especially when it comes to wide receivers.
In 2012, the Rams spent plenty of time searching for help at wideout, inviting a number of them to St. Louis for pre-draft visits and then going on a tour of private workouts to get a closer look. That trip took them to see Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, Baylor's Kendall Wright, Illinois' A.J. Jenkins and, finally, to tiny Appalachian State for a look at Brian Quick.
The first four players on that list went off the board in the first round, but the Rams were OK with that. They were sufficiently impressed by Quick's workout, his performance in the Senior Bowl week of practices and his pre-draft visit to take a chance on the raw prospect with the first pick of the second round.
Last year, the Rams paid a visit to West Virginia, where Tavon Austin put on a show that was impressive enough to seal the deal for the Rams to move up to No. 8 overall and draft him. That visit also helped the status of fellow Mountaineer receiver Stedman Bailey, whom the Rams drafted in the third round.
So there is at least some correlation between the private workouts for receivers and the Rams having genuine interest in adding the player. Of course, there are plenty of players the Rams have worked out that they didn't draft, too.
In many ways, Watkins makes sense for the Rams, a case I made at February's combine. But they also have plenty of other good options with their No. 2 overall pick, including the possibility of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews or even a more surprising choice such as Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack.
The Rams can't really go wrong by landing any of those players.
Either way, if the Rams are serious about drafting Watkins, they might have to do it at No. 2 or, if they trade down, not move too far to land his services. At this point, it would be a surprise if Watkins didn't go in the top five.