Rams Off-Season:Overhauling the Offensive Line

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The Rams could start the season with up to four new starters along the offensive line. Sound scary? Well, one NFL team made it work last season.

Name two guaranteed game one starters along the offensive line for the Rams. Can't do it, can you?

Rodger Saffold's pending departure to the Oakland Raiders and the release of Harvey Dahl leaves the Rams with question marks up and down the offensive line.

To make matters worse, Shelley Smith is garnering interest around the league and Scott Wells isn't a picture of health.

Rodger Saffold, Shelley Smith attracting suitors as free agents

It's possible the Rams could start the year with up to four new starters along the offensive line. While this may seem like cause for panic, one team left the Rams a model on just how to overhaul up-front effectively.

A Model For Success

In 2012 the Chicago Bears had the 29th ranked passing offense largely due to an often overmatched offensive line; Pro Football Focus tagged the Bears offensive line with a -22.2 grade for pass blocking. They finished the season having surrendered 44 sacks, eighth worst in the league.

The Bears tackled their issues along the line from two angles: free agency and the draft. The Bears brought in two starters, Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson, through free agency. Both Bushrod and Slauson performed amicably throughout the 2013 season.

At pick 20, which some considered a reach, the Bears selected Kyle Long; Rams defensive end, Chris Long's brother. Kyle was brought in to play guard initially with the hope that he will develop into a tackle. The final piece to the puzzle was Louisiana Tech offensive tackle Jordan Mills. Mills was selected in the fifth round and ended up starting for the Bears at right tackle.

In 2013, with four new starters, the Bears offensive line improved from allowing the eighth most sacks to allowing the fourth fewest (44 to 30).

As of right now, Joe Barksdale is the Rams only starting offensive linemen who didn't have to miss a game due to injury in 2013, however now isn't the time to panic. The Rams are in a better position than the Bears were. Jake Long's likely recovery and Joe Barksdale's improving play are pieces to build around, but there are still moves to be made.

If the Rams were to follow the Bears model and obtain two free agents as well as spend two picks on the offensive line, who would you choose?

Craft your Rams offensive line for the 2014 season. You have two draft picks and two free agency signings to work with along with the players already on the roster.

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