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Ridiculously Premature Thoughts on the Rams' Draft Picks .. Aaron Schafer

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  • Ridiculously Premature Thoughts on the Rams' Draft Picks .. Aaron Schafer

    Aaron Schafer
    Tuesday, Apr. 27 2010

    I've been told premature opinions aren't a big deal, and they happen to every guy sometimes, but I have a sneaking suspicion that's a lie.
    ​I'll own up to it: last year I tried to do an actual report card on the Rams' draft. I gave actual letter grades to all the picks, in spite of the fact none of them had yet played a snap in the NFL, or even been to training camp. Why would I do such a ridiculous thing, you ask? Because everyone else does it, that's why!

    See, all the draft experts give out grades on the job various teams did drafting players. Never mind we won't actually know anything about how well a given draft turned out for at least a couple years; no, we need analysis and judgements now.

    Well, I'm not doing it this year. I'm not giving out grades which will only in the end prove both my hubris and poor understanding of the game of football. However, I will spout off a bunch of half-baked opinions about the Rams' draft picks. But no letter grades. That's my line in the sand. I am, after all, a man of principle.

    First off, I have absolutely nothing to say about Sam Bradford. The fact is, Bradford was probably the best quarterback in this year's draft, and the Rams pretty much had to take him. I thought Ndamakong Suh was a safer pick, and Eric Berry was my personal favorite player in the whole draft, but how often do you see a football team built around a safety? If you answered, "Not very often," I'm interested in hearing why you didn't answer, "Never." Taking a quarterback was a given; we'll just have to hope the Rams took the right one. Personally, I think they did.

    Rodger Saffold
    ​2nd round: Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana -- I'm not a huge fan of this pick, to be honest. I do like the Rams took an offensive tackle, as they desperately need to shore up the O-line (and anything which hastens the departure of Alex Barron can only be a good thing in my mind), but I liked a couple other players better here. I had my heart set on Arrelious Benn, the big receiver out of Illinois, and I like Charles Brown better than Saffold on the offensive line.

    Still, there's plenty to like about Saffold. He's big, he's physical, and he's been extremely durable to this point. He started 41 of 42 games in his college career, an important consideration for a team which has seen previous iterations of its offensive line devastated by injury. At 6'4", 312, Saffold is plenty big to handle just about anything. He's got enough bulk he could slide inside to guard if needed as well, though I don't think the Rams will use him in that manner. I fully expect to see Jason Smith slide over to left tackle this season, with Saffold taking most of the snaps on the right side.

    3rd round: Jerome Murphy, CB, South Florida -- Now this kid I love. Murphy has great size and physicality as a press-style corner, as well as enough speed to keep up with virtually any receiver. I much prefer bigger corners, and at 6'0" and almost 200 lbs, Murphy has plenty of size and strength. There were concerns about him coming out of college that he can be overly aggressive at times, but I would much rather see a team try to teach a player to harness that approach and maybe temper his aggressiveness than try to somehow coax physicality out of a guy who simply doesn't have it naturally. Big fan of this pick.

    Overall, I like what the Rams did on the first two days of the draft. I don't necessarily love it, but I definitely like it. All three picks were players at positions of need, which is a big plus in my book. (Of course, one could also argue nearly every position is a position of need with such an anemic roster, and I couldn't really come up with much in the way of rebuttal.) The Rams drafted the guy they wanted at quarterback, got some extra protection for their investment, and brought some much-needed physicality in at defensive back. Is it perfect? No, but nothing ever is. It's pretty good, though, and that's a big step up from what we've become accustomed to here in Ram country.

  • #2
    Re: Ridiculously Premature Thoughts on the Rams' Draft Picks .. Aaron Schafer

    I have to disagree with moving Barron off the team. Other than that, great read.
    sigpic :ram::helmet:

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Ridiculously Premature Thoughts on the Rams' Draft Picks .. Aaron Schafer

      Originally posted by laram0 View Post
      I have to disagree with moving Barron off the team. Other than that, great read.
      Agreed. It's not as if we're overstocked with veteran OTs. Barron for all his false starts is still a decent and moreover, a durable player. He may kick it up a notch this year being as it is a contract year. Don't know if it would be the wisest thing to throw Jason Smith in at LT right off the bat. There have been rumblings that Jason will take over there this year, but those rumblings may have been a surreptitious attempt to light a fire under Alex ..

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Ridiculously Premature Thoughts on the Rams' Draft Picks .. Aaron Schafer

        Originally posted by MauiRam View Post
        He may kick it up a notch this year being as it is a contract year. ..

        We said this exact same thing last season!!

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        • TylerBishop
          Enough, O-line talk
          by TylerBishop
          Man, I can't believe how many people I've spoke that don't seem to realize how ridiculous moving players around to positions they've never played before is.

          I keep hearing, move Saffold to RT, move Smith to LG, etc.

          Jim Hannifen's expert opinion is Saffold can be a great starting LT that's good enough to me. If you think he can't do that then you need to consider him at LG, you can't put him on the right-side after two years on the struggling on the left, or he will struggle again. He also doesn't have that nasty power to play RT.

          As for smith you can't swith positions and sides with a guy who hasn't been able to get the hang of things the way he has. For me he can play RT, he has the ability, just not the technique. You may be able to fix him, or he may be Alex Barron, either way he can play RT or probably wash out. You gotta let him try, and find some dpeth behind him.

          End mini-rant.
          -01-04-2012, 05:39 AM
        • r8rh8rmike
          Tackle Duo Making Strides
          by r8rh8rmike
          Tackle Duo Making Strides
          By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

          For those that haven’t met them yet, it’s probably not too early to make the introduction. Meet Stud and Bud, for if you don’t know who they are yet, you’ll want to get familiar because if things continue as they have for the Rams’ enthusiastic young offensive tackles, they’ll be around for a long time to come.

          “Since you got the handshake, you have got to remember Stud and Bud,” right tackle Jason Smith said, a big grin creeping across his face. “He’s Stud, I’m Bud. Stud and Bud, Stud and Bud.”

          The he to which Smith is referring is rookie left tackle Rodger Saffold, Smith’s bookend and the Rams’ second round pick last April. The origin of the nickname is unknown though Smith says he has people back home in Texas who have called him Bud for a long time.

          As for that handshake, it’s a creation of Saffold from a phrase that the duo has been using as a motto for the better part of the season. Before each game, Smith and Saffold would approach each other and repeat the theme “Lock it Down.”

          After the Sept. 19 game against Oakland, Saffold came up with the idea for a handshake in which he and Smith pound fists, stick out their thumbs and turn their still joined fists downward to symbolize the saying.

          “We were already saying it and he just came up with the handshake to go with what we were saying,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for nothing so we have to stand for something together every time we go out on the field together, work in the training room together, working together, protecting the quarterback together, blocking for the running back, in the meeting room communicating.”

          It is that bond that has been a revelation to an offensive line that has long sought stability on the edge. Even with stalwart Orlando Pace dominating the left side for most of the past decade, the Rams often found themselves looking for a consistent performer at right tackle.

          But from the moment coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney took over, the offensive line became a major priority. Never was that more evident than in the past two drafts as the Rams used the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft on Smith and then surprised some by grabbing Saffold with the first pick of the second round this year.

          Still, not many teams would entrust a newly minted No. 1 overall pick and face of the franchise to the hands of two tackles with a grand total of five starts between them.

          “I really love the way they put a lot of trust in us,” Saffold said. “It’s a challenge and from that challenge you are going to see whether you can play in this game or you can’t. I think we have been stepping up to the challenge each and every week. That’s helped us throughout the season. It keeps you hungry instead of worrying about...
          -11-12-2010, 11:10 AM
        • MauiRam
          Saffold, like Bradford, is a most important rookie
          by MauiRam
          JEFF GORDON | Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010 11:01 am

          All eyes will focus on quarterback Sam Bradford Saturday as he makes his preseason debut for the Rams.

          The new Face of the Franchise will get his first live-action test, albeit with a limited preseason play list operating against a typically vanilla preseason defensive scheme.

          But an equally important rookie debut will occur on the offensive line, where fast-developing tackle Rodger Saffold hopes to further his education.

          Quarterbacks can’t flourish without reliable pass blocking. In fact, quarterbacks can’t even survive without consistently strong protection. Bradford learned this the hard way at the University of Oklahoma while suffering serious shoulder injuries.

          Earlier this summer, Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney scoffed at all the NFL teams starting rookies at offensive tackle this season.

          “I'm licking my chops,” Freeney told the Los Angeles Times. “When you have a rookie offensive tackle, I can't wait. Because for an offensive tackle, you're not good until you're in like your eighth year.

          “You've got to get beat up for a while to learn what to do and what not to. It's when you're about in your fifth through 10th years as an offensive tackle that you're in your prime. All these rookies coming out? They don't know anything. I can't wait.”

          Saffold comprehends the magnitude of his challenge.

          “The passing game is very, very difficult,” he said. “When you are backing up and they are coming at your full bore, you really have to have good technique.”

          Playing left tackle in the NFL is especially hard. The left tackle’s job to protect the quarterback’s blind side against the rush on passing downs. It is one of the toughest jobs in profession sports.

          Michael Lewis covered this topic in his book, “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.” One of the stars of the book (and the movie based on the book) was former University of Mississippi left tackle Michael Oher.

          It’s notable that Oher primarily played right tackle last season for the Baltimore Ravens. Now that he has some seasoning, he is moving to the left side.

          The Rams are affording Saffold no such luxury. He opened training camp at left tackle and his coaches hope he plays well enough to keep that job.

          “It’s improving,” Safford said. “(Offensive line) coach Steve Loney is working with me over and over. I’m continuing to learn more and more techniques and little tips that will help me.”

          Last year the Rams drafted Jason Smith second overall and projected him to become the long-term left tackle. But his adjustment to the pro game took a while, then he suffered a serious concussion just as he was mastering right tackle.

          Smith seemed likely to switch to the left side for this season, but then a foot injury derailed...
          -08-12-2010, 09:21 AM
        • Bralidore(RAMMODE)
          Rams Have Got To Do Better on Both Lines
          by Bralidore(RAMMODE)
          Hey Everybody, hope you all have a happy New Year and lose a few brain cells like I plan to.

          Hopefully the New Year brings a new atmosphere to Rams Park with some success.

          Any way here goes.

          So I sat down recently and was bored while on Christmas Leave and decided to watch every Rams game this year and pay special attention to both lines. My main focus was to see what we had going forward and where we really needed to cut bait.

          From watching the games only once when they actually happened I could tell that the pass protection was typically poor more often than not and that the push from the defensive line, specifically the defensive tackles often left a lot to be desired.

          Offensive Line:
          Let me say first off that when I started this I knew that I was going to see a lot of guys being manhandled and driven back into the QB but I had no idea just how consistently I was going to see this. Lets start from the left tackle and work our way across

          LT, Rodger Saffold: Saffold looked like a guy that was making up for his rookie downfalls and trials this season rather than last season. The switch to an offense that requires longer pass protection and the total upgrade in the amount of quality pass rushers was evident as Saffold looked flat out over matched a lot of the time this season. Saffold looks like he is quick enough most of the time to get into position but what he has in quickness he lacks in power as he gets bull-rushed into the quarterback too many times to be consistently relied on. Hell getting bullrushed is a problem this entire offensive line with the exception of Harvey Dahl has been getting all season. Guys flopping down on their ass all game.I think Saffold is a decent player that has the room to get better but should be tried on the right side side rather than the left. Saffold needs a nice off-season strength program so he can work on his ability to stand up pass rushers and not get pushed back into the QB every play.

          LG, Jacob Bell: Jacob Bell is just one of quite a few guys on this line who is getting paid way too much to perform way too little. As most of this line is, the guy looks overmatched way too many times to be consistently relied on. Whether that's in the passing game where he's getting shoved back into Bradford's face or in the running game where he either gets blown up or stood up its just unnacceptable given this guy's contract.Don't get me wrong Jacob Bell is capable as a barely average starter for a mediocre team and the team could do worse but he's not getting paid to be barely average. And that's just what the guy is or has been this season.I think the Rams need to put LG as an area where they want to attempt to get better this offseason. Not to mention I believe Bell's contract is up after this season anyway so this maybe a moot point.

          C, Jason Brown: Brown, Brown, Brown...man...
          -12-30-2011, 09:12 PM
        • MauiRam
          “I want to be the best” — How Rodger Saffold plans on dominating at left tackle ..
          by MauiRam
          From IMG Academies BLog

          Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

          Coming out of Ohio’s Bedford High, which also boasts Chris Chambers and Lee Evans as alums, Rodger Saffold barely registered a blip on the recruiting radar. Offered scholarships by only a few D-I schools, Saffold chose Indiana, only to anchor the offensive line at left tackle for three-plus years after earning the starting spot midway through his freshman year.

          After enrolling in the NFL Draft, analysts tabbed him as a middle-round pick. No problem, he thought. After dominant performances in the NFL Combine, personal workouts and interviews, Saffold went 33rd overall in the draft to the St. Louis Rams.

          No way he could start at left tackle, the personal bodyguard for the highest-paid rookie in NFL history, right? Not only did he start every game, but earned All-Rookie status and helped Sam Bradford get the same honor.

          So what’s next? In his own words between workouts at IMG Academies:

          “When the season is over, your body is pretty much trashed. You do what you can to keep it at a certain level, but there’s only so much you can do. The best you will ever feel is the first day of training camp. After that day, you’ll never feel like that again for the rest of the season. You have to prepare for it, though, or you’ll break down.”

          Saffold starts every workout with a dynamic warm-up to prepare his body and prevent injuries.


          “(Sam Bradford’s) work ethic and dedication are amazing, but what I like about him is that he’ s not a robot. If the coaches call a play, and he has questions about it, he’ll talk to them and explain what he’s thinking. We’ve been roommates from day one. I want us to have that Jeff Saturday/Peyton Manning kind of thing. It’s already gotten to the point where I know how much room he needs to operate and I can sense it even when backpedaling. Not only am I keeping him away from hits and sacks, but I need to keep people out of his way.”

          Saffold splits his daily workouts into two sessions: Speed/agility and strength. After doing hill workouts the day before, Saffold works with the renowned Loren Seagrave, Director of Speed and Movement at IMG, on improving his footwork on the IMG Performance Institute turf field.

          “The best thing about being an offensive lineman is that you can be as violent as you want between the whistle. I’ve seen hitting, grabbing, everything. To put someone who is supposed to be one of the strongest people on the field on their back is an unbelievable feeling. There’s no running start. It’s just pure strength. It’s like a battle of bears out there.”

          Saffold trains with other NFL players at IMG Academies, but most are at the skill positions, forcing him to keep up with players who are known for their speed and quickness. On this day, he trained with Green Bay rookie Randall Cobb (blue shirt), Minnesota...
          -06-23-2011, 02:18 PM
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