Dec 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Texas A
It has been a scary trend with Rams general manager and head coach Jeff Fisher over their careers. Neither has ever drafted an offensive lineman in the first round of a draft. NEVER.
With quarterback Sam Bradford coming off of an ACL injury and running back Zac Stacy ready for a breakout season, is it time for the team to reconsider that philosophy.
Last season the Rams gave up only 36 sacks which was the eighth best in the NFL. They also had 76 quarterback hits which was the 14th best. The stats are pretty good. It shows no reason that the Rams need to give up one of their first round picks to grab an offensive lineman, but let’s take it a step further at an individual level and compare them to that of the dominant NFC West.
One problem the Rams had, was getting any push offensively against teams inside their division which is one of the main reasons the Rams struggled, they failed to dominate the line of scrimmage which is how you win in the NFC West.
At tackle the Rams are pretty good. Jake Long came in and played at a pro bowl level until he tore his ACL. Joe Barksdale surprisingly impressed as well. Both of the Rams tackles were ranked inside the top 25 on pro football focus, something no other team in the NFC West can attest to.
This proves that IF the Rams can’t re-sign Rodger Saffold, the Rams should be able to get by. Where the Rams will need Saffold however, is at guard. Saffold became dominant at the guard position last season.
With Saffold at guard the Rams, once again have two guards in the top 25 on Pro Football Focus which is something only the Rams in the NFC West can say. Without Saffold, the Rams have Shelley Smith at 23 and then Harvey Dahl at 36.
With Saffold, those stats are pretty impressive and shows that the Rams do have a dominant offensive line, without Saffold however, the Rams just aren’t as dominant on the inside.
Where the Rams do need to improve however is at center. The Rams have Barnes who did alright last season when Wells got injured and then the Rams have Barrett Jones. The problem is that every team in the NFC West has a center better than the Rams.
The Rams are solid at two of the three positions on the offensive line which is pretty good. However in the NFL, there is always room for improvement, and there is no doubt that the Rams can improve.
Jake Long is a dominant offensive tackle, but nobody can know how he is going to return from his knee injury. Joe Barksdale is a solid tackle, but why not draft a guy in the first round who can be another dominant tackle to play across from Jake Long.
The Rams have had some bad memories of drafting offensive lineman in the first round and I would hate to resurface those memories…Jason Smith *cough cough*. The Rams play against three dominant defensive lines six times a year and in order to compete against those teams, the Rams need to be able to get some “push” up front.
The Rams don’t necessarily have to draft an offensive lineman at number two overall, but they should definitely consider it at number 13. They should consider drafting Taylor Lewan, or maybe even consider trading up to get Greg Robinson.
At number two offensive line shouldn’t even be an option, that is putting too much investment in a guy that doesn’t make plays on the football field and put up points on the board. But at 13 it should be considered.
Another scenario, that many would prefer, is if the Rams trade out of number two and acquire a third first round pick from let’s say Cleveland. That’s when it should be a no brainer that the Rams draft an offensive lineman.
With Sam Bradford being called “injury-prone” and the Rams playing in the NFC West in which every team has a dominant defensive line. It may be time for Les Snead and Jeff Fisher to change their philosophy and draft an offensive lineman in the first round.