The Rams offensive line is in a state of flux, a good state of flux, but there are number of questions still to be settled. The signing of Jason Brown gives the Rams the meaty, tough pivot man that's been lacking for some time. That, combined with the near certain departure of long-time bulwark LT Orlando Pace, underscores a big change for the Rams line as it gets younger and prepared to pave wide open lanes through the near future. But what about the rest of the line? What will it look like for the 2009 season?
More likely than not, the Rams will take one of the premier offensive tackles in the 2009 Draft, probably either Virginia's Eugene Monroe or Baylor's Jason Smith. With that player on board, the '09 starters at C and both OT spots, Alex Barron on the right, are settled. That leaves a question mark over the guys in the middle next to Jason Brown, the guards.
There's a 99.9% chance that Jacob Bell will again be the Rams starter at left guard. Bell's play and loss of bulk left more than a few fans questioning the move, but getting some stability in the middle and a solid off-season of workouts and bulking up should put minds at ease over Bell's presence on the line. To the right of Jason Brown, the situation is still pretty fluid. The Rams tendered an offer to last year's starter, Richie Incgonito, but he didn't finish the season on a high note in terms of his attitude. However, it's not unreasonable to think that the new regime can't fix that.
How does John Greco fit into the equation? Getting some reps late last season, including a start over the attitudinally-incapacitated Incognito, Greco showed real promise, cementing the belief that he has what it takes to start in the NFL. I'd say there's probably going to be some real competition at camp between Greco and Incognito for the starting RG job.
Of course, teams could still make an offer to Incognito, figuring he's a young starter as good as any prospect they're likely to get in the third round. In that case, would the Rams make a move to retain him? They almost have to because of their need for depth. With reports that Romberg is looking elsewhere - Leckey's also a free agent - the Rams don't have a backup center. Incognito has value to the team because he can play that position, and almost would have to if the Rams are without Brown at all during the course of the season.
Behind the starters, the depth gets questionable. Obviously, one of the Greco/Incgonito combination gives the Rams depth in the middle, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Greco maybe taking practice snaps, just to bone up on the position. Versatile backup OL Adam Goldberg is a free agent, and a guy the Rams may have interest in keeping once they get things figured out with the first group of free agent starters, i.e. James Butler. There's also G Roy Schuening, who the organization liked, but felt needed some more refinement. He'll be one to keep an eye on come camp time. More than likely there will be other backup linemen available as the spring and summer drag on; there usually are. The Rams are better positioned for depth in the middle than at OT, where they'll have to consider Goldberg and additional backup help.
Then there's another kink in the equation. What if the team does not draft an OT with the second overall pick, opting instead to wait until the second round? In his Tuesday chat at STLToday.com, Jim Thomas mentioned the possibility of moving Barron to LT in that circumstance.
This is what makes the rebuilding process so entertaining. Stay tuned.