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Thread: Bernie Bytes: Will Rams Target A Tackle?

  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Bernie Bytes: Will Rams Target A Tackle?

    Bernie Bytes: Will Rams target a tackle?

    9 hours ago • Bernie Miklasz

    With the NFL offseason underway, I'd like to hit the reset button on the Rams' needs in May's 2014 NFL draft.

    This draft is hugely important to the Rams, who hold the No. 2 and No. 13 overall picks.

    Trading down from No. 2 may be more difficult than expected; it seems that a few teams who draft early are looking to do the same thing. If it's a buyer's market, moving out of No. 2 may not be as appealing to the Rams.

    Keep in mind that a couple of these areas can be firmed up through free-agent signings, but the Rams have a long list of needs to address, and they can't afford to screw up the draft.

    As we go along, I'll be taking a look at the different positions of need. Between now and the draft, I'm sure we'll have time to update and revise.

    Today, let's take a look at the offensive line...

    The O-Line needs retooling. Uncertainty abounds, beginning with the 2014 readiness of left offensive tackle Jake Long, who tore both the ACL and MCL in his right knee late in 15th game last season. Prior injuries limited Long to 26 starts over his final two seasons (2011-2012) with Miami. On the right side, big Joe Barksdale looks like a keeper and should continue to improve.

    There are other issues. Right guard Harvey Dahl and center Scott Wells are in their thirties, make a lot of money, can't stay healthy, and are prime candidates for salary-cap reduction. Rodger Saffold, who can play guard or tackle, is set to explore free agency. The oft-injured Saffold is no iron man but he's talented and versatile and should draw plenty of interest from teams with money to spend. I don't know if the Rams are satisfied with their options at left guard. I don't know if the Rams view Tim Barnes or Barrett Jones as desirable options for an immediate starting job at center.

    One way or another the Rams offensive line requires considerable investment for 2014.

    Or so it would appear.

    The early mock drafts have been predictable in matchmaking the Rams with an offensive tackle at No. 2 overall. At first it was Texas A&M's Jake Matthews. Lately, it's Auburn's Greg Robinson. I would expect the Rams to be linked to Michigan's Taylor Lewan before it's all over.

    Speaking to the Bleacher Report, retired Rams wide receiver Torry Holt advocated taking an offensive tackle at No. 2 overall. Holt's opinion, in part, was based on uneasiness over Jake Long's knee surgery.

    “I like Matthews the left tackle,” Holt said. “There's a premium on getting really good left tackles in our league and our game. You've got to have that.”

    Here's the thing, as many Rams fans already know: Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has never drafted an offensive lineman in the first round. That's 18 drafts, the first 16 with the Houston-Tennessee Oilers/Titans.

    Granted, Rams GM Les Snead will have a big say in the matter. He technically has authority over personnel decisions, but that doesn't mean Snead would mow down Fisher by drafting a player the coach didn't want. You hear the word “consensus” thrown around a lot at Rams Park in describing personnel decisions made by the the Fisher-Snead alliance.

    But even after I note Snead's influence, I'd be surprised if the Rams draft an OT at No. 2 overall. Or even at No. 13. Obviously, it would be foolish for me or anyone to rule out the Rams' jumping on an offensive tackle early. But if they do, the pick would represent a dramatic change in the Fisher philosophy.

    Here's what I mean:

    In the 18 drafts he's participated in as a NFL head coach, Fisher's teams have chosen 165 players.

    Of the 165 draft picks, only 23 have been offensive linemen.

    None were chosen in the first round.

    Only two were selected in the second round.

    Only two were picked in the third round.

    All others were plucked from the fourth round on, and 13 of the 23 were drafted in the fifth round or later.

    What about offensive tackles?

    The highest pick used by the Titans on an OT came in 2005, when they drafted Michael Roos in the second round, No. 41 overall. He's been a good starter (for nine seasons) in Tennessee, and was voted to the All-Pro team in 2008.

    The Titans also found another solid offensive tackle in the 2005 draft, taking David Stewart in the fourth round, at No. 113 overall.

    Jon Runyan was arguably the best offensive tackle drafted by a Fisher team, and the Oilers-Titans got him in the fourth round (No. 109 overall) in 1996. Runyan, now retired, started 12 seasons in an NFL career split between Tennessee and Philadelphia.

    The Rams also have an excellent offensive line coach, Paul Boudreau, who is respected for his teaching ability and history of “coaching up” O-line prospects.

    There's a bit of a contradiction in the Fisher history with offensive linemen _ at least in St. Louis.

    The Rams have drafted only two interior offensive linemen in Fisher's two years, taking guard Rok Watkins (long gone) in the fifth round in 2012, and using a fourth-rounder on Barrett Jones last year. Instead of making the line a draft priority, the Snead-Fisher Rams opted to throw a lot of money at Scott Wells and Jake Long.

    Perhaps Snead-Fisher will change direction, and prioritize the draft instead of free agency when trying to rework the Rams' offensive line. By having two first-round picks instead of one, they may be more flexible in their philosophy on drafting O-lineman. But if the Rams grab one early, it will be an upset.

    Thanks for reading...

    — Bernie

  2. #2
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    So the Rams either will, or will not, take an OT early in the draft.

    Got it.

    ramsbruce and VegasRam like this.

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Will Rams Target A Tackle?

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    So the Rams either will, or will not, take an OT early in the draft.

    Got it.

    LOL! ...Man'o man, LOL!

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Will Rams Target A Tackle?

    Bernie Bytes doesn't deserve to cover the Rams; for that exact reason they should move back to Los Angeles so that the L.A. Times' Sam Farmer, one of the best in the business, can cover them again
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Will Rams Target A Tackle?

    Am sure its one of several optional plans in the Rams war room. Is it plan A, B, or C, I don't know. I put my money on plan B though. See if there is any interest in that that top 10 draft spot and what can be gotten for it, and see if there are any worth while tackles that could be had later on in the first round or even in the second.

    This post did get me thinking. I know a lot of the pre-draft is a game of Blind Man's Bluff where you try to hide your true intentions, but I wonder just how closely each team in the NFL keeps tabs on the other teams' talent scouts--whom they are seeing and where they are going

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Will Rams Target A Tackle?

    The question in my mind is what do we need to win the NFC West? I like our defense but feel like we need more offense.
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Will Rams Target A Tackle?

    Let's see, your highest paid player and 'franchise' QB is going to be back, fresh off of major knee repair. He will be more fragile and less agile than ever. Your LT also went down and his return is up in the air. Gee, a real head scratcher as to if they may need to target a LT with one of their 2 first rounders. Please. It would be one of the dumbest drafts ever if this glaring need is not addressed early. Matthews is apparently a 'can't miss' prospect, complete with pedigree. Done. Unless they are blown away with a trade offer, this is a no brainer.
    "You people point your 'f'in' finger and say theres the bad guy....what that make you....good?" Tony Montana

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