May 16, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason (27) and offensive lineman Greg Robinson (79) during rookie minicamp at Rams Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Can the Rams Offensive Line Transform Like Last Year's Bears?

Coming into the 2014 season, the offensive line for the St. Louis Rams was looking to be one of the weaker points of the offense. The Rams looked to be in a lot of trouble after they almost lost Rodger Saffold, but thankfully the Raiders came through and allowed Saffold to “fail” his physical.

Saffold is going to continue playing guard this year as he excelled in that position toward the end of last season. Really, there is no reason Saffold can’t be a Pro Bowl guard.

On the other side of that the Rams lost Shelley Smith and Chris Williams, but with the number two overall selection, they selected Greg Robinson who they will start at guard in hopes that it have a Jonathan Ogden like effect.

On the outside, the Rams then have Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long and emerging tackle Joe Barksdale, and then at center the Rams have aging and oft-injured center, Scott Wells, but then have Tim Barnes if needed to back him up.

When all is said and done, the Rams offensive line doesn’t look as bad as it did before the draft. You also can’t forget that the Rams drafted Mitchell Van Dyk, who Jeff Fisher said could turn into a solid left tackle, and Demetrius Rhaney. The Rams also signed Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph, and then have Barrett Jones in there for some depth.

What looked to be a position that lacked depth and one in which the Rams might have to hold open tryouts for, is now a position of what looks like a strength and has some good depth.

Last season, the Chicago Bears ran into a similar situation. In 2012 Chicago’s offensive line allowed the fourth most sacks with 44, and looked to be a position of weakness going into 2013 as they were starting four new players on the offensive line, two of which were rookies.

As it turns out, the Bears had one of the better offensive lines moving from the top of the league in sacks down to the middle of the pack. Bears general manager Phil Emory performed what some might say to be a miracle.

Much of the transformation had to do with the coaching as well as simply having better players. Last season, the Rams failed to get any push whatsoever against the tough defensive fronts in the NFC West, however in order to compete in the division, that’s exactly what you have to do, win the battle up front.

If, and that is the big question here, if the Rams offensive line can stay healthy, there is no doubt they could have the best offensive line in the division. If Robinson pans out and Saffold continues to dominate inside like he did last year, there is no question the Rams got better on the inside even though they lost guys like Shelly Smith, Chris Williams, and Harvey Dahl.

The Rams also have one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL with Paul Boudreau who is known for transforming players careers, the only exception being Jason Smith who was a lost cause as it was.

For the first time in his career, Sam Bradford has a running game to go along with weapons as well as an offensive line to protect him. Les Snead and Jeff Fisher worked miracles this offseason by taking a position where they basically had nothing, and now they actually have something. The Rams could very easily make a similar transformation as the Bears did a year ago, if not better.

 

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