Rams might draft interior lineman ..
BY JIM THOMAS
Friday, April 13, 2012
The graveyard of Rams draft picks at guard and center is crowded and under-whelming.
Since the move to St. Louis in 1995, the team has drafted 14 interior offensive linemen. Of that group, only Richie Incognito and Claude Terrell started as many as 10 games at guard or center in a single season.
The hot-headed Incognito started 12 times at center in 2006 and 15 games at right guard in 2008, before heading off to the Miami Dolphins. Terrell started 10 games at left guard in 2005 before heading off to prison, pleading guilty to assault charges in the beating of his wife.
True, Zach Wiegert started 15 games in 1997 and 13 times in '98 at right guard. But that was only because the Rams had a tackle tandem at that time of No. 1 overall pick Orlando Pace and veteran Wayne Gandy. Wiegert spent the rest of his career at his natural position — tackle —playing 12 seasons, mainly with Jacksonville and Houston.
And Fred Miller started 15 games at left guard in 1998. But that was out of necessity, not design. He spent the rest of his long and successful career at right tackle with the Rams, Tennessee and Chicago. The rest of the crew basically was a disaster area:
• Guards Glenn Rountree (Round 6, 1998), Andrew Kline (Round 7, 1999), Kaulana Noa (Round 4, 2000), Travis Scott (Round 4, 2002), and Tony Palmer (Round 7, 2006) never played in a game for the Rams.
• Guards Jesse James (Round 2, 1995), Cameron Spikes (Round 5, 1999), and Roy Schuening (Round 5, 2008), plus center Dustin Fry (Round 5, 2007) appeared in a few games, but none ever started.
• That leaves guards Scott Tercero (Round 6, 2003), Mark Setterstrom (Round 7, 2006) and John Greco (Round 3, 2008), plus center Larry Turner (Round 7, 2004) who combined for 21 starts as Rams. Setterstrom, who had 12 starts, showed real promise but injuries cut short his career.
The Rams quit trying after Schuening in 2008; they haven't drafted a guard or center since. But with a gaping hole at left guard on the current depth chart, and the free-agent market basically tapped out, it looks as if they'll try to draft and develop a starting interior offensive lineman. The where and when of it remain to be seen.
Stanford's David DeCastro and Georgia's Cordy Glenn will be first-round draft picks, projected in the top 25. Many regard DeCastro as the second-best offensive lineman in the draft, behind Southern Cal tackle Matt Kalil. He's viewed as a Day 1 starter in the NFL with Pro Bowl potential.
Glenn is viewed by some as a tackle, but his mammoth body type — 6 feet 6, 345 pounds — probably makes him better suited as an NFL guard.
"He is a massive man," said former NFL scout and current draft analyst Russ Lande. "I mean huge man, great raw strength. When he locks onto guys it's over. He needs to work on his footwork but he should really start early in his career."
But unless the Rams trade down from their No. 6 spot, neither DeCastro nor Glenn will be in play for them. There's also draft history to consider when it comes to coach Jeff Fisher. He never selected an offensive lineman in the first round in his 16 full seasons as head coach for the Houston/Tennessee franchise. So unless the Rams are staring at Kalil at No. 6, which seems unlikely, that's probably not going to change in Year 1 in St. Louis. Kalil visited Rams Park on Thursday.
However, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Rams could use one of their two second-round picks, or their third-round pick, on a guard. Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler (6-4, 315) probably will be under consideration if he's available in Round 2.
"Athletic, real thick, nice-built kid," Lande said. "Very competitive. Smart. All the intangibles you want. He's a better athlete than he gets credit for."
Lande firmly believes Zeitler can be a Day 1 starter in the NFL.
If the Rams select Zeitler, who had ankle issues in college, and want him to play left guard, it will be an adjustment because in his three years as a starter for the Badgers he played strictly right guard. Another possibility is Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele, who also paid a pre-draft visit to Rams Park on Thursday. He started four games at left guard in 2008 as a freshman. But his 38 starts from 2009 through 2011 with the Cyclones all came at left tackle. But like Glenn, his size (6-5, 333) suggests that guard might be his NFL spot. "Tremendously athletic," Lande said.
Osemele might be available in the third round.
Re: Rams might draft interior lineman ..
I will bust a nut if Osemele is available in the third round. I reckon he'll sneak into the back of the first.
Re: Rams might draft interior lineman ..
I hope Rams draft Kelechi Osemele with one of there second round picks. The Rams need to sure up the O-Line. No injuries to O-line this year. Let the young players get better. I wouldn't mind Rams drafting Branden Brooks in the third round. That might sure up the line for years to come.