The St. Louis Rams interior line is a subject of much debate, debate for another time. Whatever you think about the interior three, there is little question that the Rams have a solid foundation on the outsides with Rodger Saffold and Jason Smith bookending the offensive line. Pro Football Focus continued its look at NFL pass protection this week, moving to individual players with a look at offensive tackles today.
Saffold fares pretty well among NFL left tackles with at least 200 snaps in pass protection. Saffold started every single snap on the left side for the Rams this year, working in pass protection 625 snaps. The article at PFF looks at individual pass protection through a formula called pass blocking efficiency, that looks at sacks, hits and hurries allowed, according to their game charting data. The closer a PBE is to 0, the better.
Saffold had a pass blocking efficiency of 4.80, good enough for 13th best in their rankings.
As far as right tackles go, the Rams' Jason Smith didn't show up in the top 15 or the bottom 15, which puts him squarely in the middle of the league. I would expect both Smith and Saffold to take a big leap forward next season, with another year under their belts.
Sando at ESPN had some interesting scuttlebutt from an NFL scout in his look at the NFC West's starting left tackles today. See if you can spot the "huh" quote.
Saffold immediately impressed teammates as a rookie starter. In training camp, before Saffold ever started a regular-season game, left guard Jacob Bell compared Saffold to former 188-game NFL starter Brad Hopkins in terms of footwork. Hopkins was a two-time Pro Bowl choice. A scout I spoke with last week thought Saffold would be good at left tackle and better at guard.
No, not the Brad Hopkins comparison, the notion that Saffold would be better at guard. It's hard to suspend the image of him as anything but an offensive tackle at this point. Still, do it, and join me in fantasy land. The Rams have some interesting possibilities with their current group of linemen, thanks to the versatility of the bunch. Smith could always move over to the left side. Replacing him at right tackle, you could have either Renardo Foster, Adam Goldberg or maybe even John Greco. (Greco was a tackle in college; could he still play on the right side?)
I know, it looks like a step down at first, playing with the right tackle spot just to get Saffold at guard. And, really, why would you move Saffold anywhere other than OT since that's obviously where his value is. Still, the possibilities are there should injuries or necessity force Spagnuolo to get creative in finding the best possible line combination.