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Tackle talk

There's some hesitation among the Golden Horned masses about taking an offensive tackle with the second overall pick. I suspect that has something to so with three seasons of "he's okay enough, but doesn't live up to his first round status" Alex Barron constantly jumping offsides. Completely understandable. It begs the question, are we setting ourselves up for an expensive disappointment? (which assumes you've already answered the question of whether or not the Rams can pass up talent like Chris Long, Vernon Gholston, or Sedrick Ellis with their pick.)

Yesterday, in the comments long-time TST reader SC Rams Fan wondered how Michigan OT Jake Long compared to current Rams tackles Orlando Pace and the afore mentioned Alex Barron. Damn good question, but a tougher one to answer.

Size-wise, you wouldn't know the difference just looking at a piece of paper. All three tackles are listed at 6'7". Pace's official weight is now 325 lbs. Long is now listed at 315 lbs, and Barron sits at 315 lbs too. In pre-draft analysis, many feel that Jake Long has growth potential on his long frame. Looking at this photo of him doing a shuttle run at the NFL Combine this weekend, he looks like another 10 lbs is easily attainable. I don't know about hand size for Pace or Barron, but Long does seem to have the wingspan both of the Rams current tackles possess, if not better.

One more thing to calm your fears of drafting another Alex Barron with the second overall pick. Check out this draft profile of Barron from 2005, this paragraph stands out, especially with hindsight being 20/20:

Possessing a tremendous amount of natural skill, Barron has all the physical traits necessary to be an early pick and a productive left tackle in the NFL. Before any of that happens he must pick up the intensity and tempo in all areas or will never reach the level of achievement scouts think he is capable of.

The prior administration had a terrible record of motivating young players in need of motivation and the jury's still out on the current regime. I do, however, think that some of the coaching changes made will go along way toward addressing this problem, particularly since mending the fence between players and Linehan was a main area of emphasis. But I digress. Long, by all accounts, doesn't seem to have the need to pick up his intensity. This profile at NFL Draft Countdown, calls long a "hard worker," notes his "Plays with a nasty demeanor and is a great finisher" and also reminds us that he was a team captain.

I'm not advocating for the Rams to take Long, yet. The jury's still out for me. However, I think that Long is the real deal and won't disappoint.

Another offensive tackle mentioned in the comments by Chosen 1 is Rutgers ROT Jeremy Zuttah. With last year's second round pick, Brian Leonard, a direct pipeline to all things Rutgers football, the Rams may well have a pretty good idea about the smaller OT that impressed at the combine this weekend. His best 40 time was 4.99 and had the second most bench press reps, 35, behind only Jake Long.

The Rutgers page at notes that Zuttah could be a 4th or 5th round pick, which might make him a steal. I wonder about his size though. He's 6'4" 295 lbs. That makes him a little small for a full-time tackle in the NFL, but he also started at left guard during the 2005 season. He made a nice running play at Rutgers this season, carrying the ball 13 yards. According to his profile at the NFL Combine site, he may have already reached his ceiling. Motor and motivation don't seem to be a problem though. Could be a steal in the late rounds.