June 12, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams offensive line runs drills during training camp at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
We did our obligatory wide receivers post earlier, now we need to get to our mandatory offensive line post. I really am being only slightly facetious here, the offensive line might be the single biggest question mark for the St. Louis Rams and the future of $78 million man Sam Bradford. I ranked the league's offensive lines this week at SB Nation, and had to put the Rams near the bottom, no matter how much I want to be optimistic about it.
Here's my ranking for the Rams:
31. St. Louis Rams
The Rams helped Sam Bradford by signing free agent center Scott Wells to take over for Jason Brown, who had mostly been a lump of wet paper towels in the middle of the line. Harvey Dahl is a good fit on Wells' right side. Tackles are the biggest issue here. More short drops and quick passes and better coaching will help hide the limitations of left tackle Rodger Saffold. The second pick in the 2009 draft, right tackle Jason Smith has mostly been a reminder of why the league needed a new rookie wage scale.
You can argue about the precise number, but I don't think you can legitimately claim, at this point, that the Rams deserve to be any higher than the bottom third of the league's protection units.
They have a solid middle with the tandem of Well and Dahl. Hopefully, someone establishes themselves at the left guard spot leaving no doubts, but for now, that position is big doubt.
But probably not as big of a doubt as the two tackle positions are. Saffold has the makings of a good tackle, whether or not he would be better suited to the right side is up for some debate. As we pointed out in this recent post, there are signs of hope about Saffold's ability.
If you are still counting on Jason Smith to live up to the potential associated with being the second overall pick, I have a bridge to sell you. The best case scenario is that he stays healthy and provides a league-average level of play this season. Now ask yourself this and answer honestly, are you counting on Jason Smith for either of those things this year? Would you wager on those things happening?
The Rams are certainly hedging their bets by bringing in a series of backup tackles. Unfortunately, Barry Richardson is one of those tackles, but there are others on the list, including Quinn Ojinnaka, Joe Long, and other versatile players who can give them some flexibility. Remember, moving Dahl to right tackle is an option if the depth at guard proves to be solid.