Draft Talk: Long Term Success

Michael Hickey

Often overlooked, yet so vital to any and every teams success, the offensive line has always - and will always - play a major role in winning games. Win consistently in the trenches, and winning almost becomes a formality....

Editor's note: Please welcome Misone, one of seven new staff members you'll be seeing very soon here at Turf Show Times. I'd like to thank everyone who submitted their work in the writer auditions. There's some serious talent lurking in the wings here at TST. It's a bit nerve racking for new writers when they start posting articles on a bigger stage than in the fan post section. This being the biggest St. Louis Rams site around adds to the tension too.  I hope you'll all join Ryan, 3k , myself and the staff here in welcoming these new writers to the Front Page - DouglasM

For a long time now, the St. Louis Rams have been a team opposing defensive coordinators would lick their chops at when game planning. It was no secret - that when you played the Rams - you were going to get after the quarterback. The lack of stability and talent has turned the Rams offense into the laughing stock of the NFL over the last decade.

Since the arrival of Paul Boudreau, the line has consistently gotten better. Even when the starting line consisted of the other teams' backups, there is still a steady performance each week. During the reign of the previous Rams' regime, an average of 44.3 sacks a season were allowed from 2009-2011. Since Jeff Fisher took over, the per season total has declined to 35.5, from 2012-2013. While the current team has more talent on offense - as well as a drastically improved defense - it still lacks consistent, dominant play makers. Yet, the average wins per season total has seen a decent increase. From 2009-2011 the Rams averaged 3.3 wins a season, versus in 2012-2013 the Rams have averaged 7.25 wins a season.

For the first time in a long time, the Rams will enter the draft with some stability and continuity. The Rams are in prime position to add depth, as well as upgrade, to the overall talent of the offensive line. With any additions added this off-season, the Rams will have the opportunity to keep the same offensive line for at least the next few seasons. In fact, they have the chance to keep the same offense as a whole together, with everyone having played a significant amount of snaps the last two seasons under contract except for Joe Barksdale, Chris Givens, Brian Quick, and Scott Wells (Bradford is the wildcard of the bunch).

This draft has a lot of offensive line talent. Starting at the top, from the first day of the NFL Draft on through round 5 on Day 3, teams can find a lot of talent. For the St. Louis Rams, one thing this team has't had since the arrival of Paul Boudreau is a young lineman with more talent than the average player at his position. This draft is loaded with those players. With the likes of Greg Robinson, Xavier Su'a-Filo, Zack Martin, and Jake Matthews, and the list goes on and on. The Rams are in prime position to add multiple players to their offensive line, as well as quality player-depth with possible starter potential.

Here is a sample size of the players who might be some of the better fits for the Rams - including day one starters, future starters, and depth players:

TACKLE

  1. Greg Robinson - Physical and athletic with the ability to play everywhere except center
  2. Jake Matthews - Arguably the most pro ready prospect in the entire draft
  3. Zack Martin - Can play every position equally effective
  4. Taylor Lewan - Has the size, length, and athleticism to be a dominant LT for a long time
  5. Antonio RIchardson - Has mammoth size and strength to anchor the edge
  6. Morgan Moses - A good pass blocker with exceptional length and quick feet
  7. Joel Bitonio - Good athlete that is competitive and physical
  8. JaWuan James - Very physical first strike and better than advertised athleticism
  9. James Hurst - Good at everything with a high level of awareness
  10. Justin Britt - Good pass blocker with length and quick feet

GUARD

  1. Xavier Su'a-Filo - Very athletic, physical, and strong with a great motor
  2. David Yankey - Big bodied and strong with a violent streak
  3. Gabe Jackson - Massive size; scary strength that is nearly impossible to move
  4. Brandon Thomas - Quick and mobile with sneaky power to match
  5. Jon Halapio - Underrated athlete that plays with tenacity and a nastiness
  6. Dakota Dozier - Physical and strong; flies off of the ball
  7. Cyril Richardson - Monstrous size; strength to move players backwards
  8. Trai Turner - Plays with balance and is hard to push; good mobility
  9. Spencer Long - Better blocker in space than his size would indicate
  10. Chris Watt - Fundamentally sound and has a high motor

All of these players have a good chance to be off of the board by the end of the fifth round. With 12 picks - and a well documented craving to trade back at some point to gain more picks - the Rams have fewer holes to fill than in any year over the last six seasons. No one should be surprised if the team looks to add multiple players from these lists to build and strengthen their line.

If you could have three of the players listed above, who would you want to bring in?

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