First let me say, sorry for getting the BBD up so late. This has been a rough week and I've had absolutely zero time to myself. It's going to be border-line hectic for the next couple of weeks so I'm just going to have to ask you to hang in there with me. Deal? I hope so...
Now, at this time, I've come to the conclusion that we need to take the BBD series in a slightly different direction. As far as positions that are an immediate need for someone who can step in and provide an impact (or at least step in and be a starter), we've covered them. MLB, OT, WR, SS, CB, and DT are all major areas of need for the Rams and while it might not be realistic to think we can solve all of those positions in one off-season, I'd like to think the team is determined to either solve or patch those areas with a focus on the remainders next year. But that doesn't mean the job is done. There's still areas of depth and future that need a little tending to so that's what we're going to look at today when we dissect the Offensive Guard position.
So, now the change. Before, I was breaking down the roster, then a look at what was available in free agency, and finally what the top picks in the draft would look like in regards to that position. Now, since we're not necessarily looking for a star at these positions, it's probably safe to say they won't be looking to free agency to fill these needs, so I'm going to forego looking at free agency. Now there might be someone cut loose during training camp that would come in at a bargain price, but right now most of that is simply speculation. Plus, we are at the point where spending money on a free agent to fill one of these backup positions would have to wait on getting draft picks signed.
Also, I'd like to point out, I'll no longer be looking at what is available in the first 4 rounds of the draft. I think it's safe to say, the Rams won't be drafting a Guard in the 2nd round. The top 4 draft picks are probably spoken for and will shake down among the positions listed above, so it's pointless to even consider any of the top guys in the draft.
So, with that being said, let's take a look at the Offensive Guards.
So, as far as the Guard position is concerned, the Rams are fairly healthy. The guys on the roster may not exactly be the future, but they're definitely good enough to count on for a season or two. So, let's look at the roster.
- Richie Incognito - 6'3" 330 - Signed through 2009 - Well, I guess he's not officially signed, but the team did make a tender to the restricted free agent and it would cost any team signing him a third round draft pick so it's safe to say he'll be with the Rams this season. Anyway, Richie is everyone's favorite football player around here, right? Umm... Well, he's got amazing talent, is ornery as all get out, but also often displays the maturity of a 4-year old. He has some versatility in that he can play either Guard position as well as Center. Hopefully the new coaching staff can harness this creature and he becomes a mainstay on the Line (he is only 25 years old and has a lot of service time ahead of him). If not, it's probably Siyanora before the 2010 season rolls around.
- Jacob Bell - 6'4" 295 - Signed through 2013 - When the Rams made this signing last off-season, many of us loved it. Then Bell had a bit of a disappointing 2009 campaign which resulted in some talk of him being a bust. Put me in the camp of those who are still optimistic about Bell. He's only 28 and with the addition of Jason Brown as Center, I think we'll all see a much improved version of Jacob Bell next season......that is unless he's playing Right Tackle.
- John Greco - 6'5" 318 - Signed through 2010 - Talk about a man of mystery. As a thrid round pick last year he rarely played last season, when he did it was near the end of the season when no one was watching, and Rotoworld.com doesn't even have a picture of him. Add this to his almost cult like following here (well, sortof) and I'm starting to think Mr. Greco is the Rams version of Brain Barton. All signs point to a guy who's young and who has talent. If Bell actually does play RT, then Greco's probably the man to start at Guard, but even if Bell doesn't make the switch, it's probably safe to say Greco might still be in the running to start if he impresses in the pre-season.
- Adam Goldberg - 6'7" 318 - Signed through 2010 - Sure, Goldie's probably more of a Tackle, but he's kind of a utility man for the Rams line in that he can play (and pretty much has) every position on the line. He's not a Pro-Bowler by any stretch of the imagination, but he's an important piece to the depth and stability of the Offensive Line. He can start in a pinch and not be a disaster. Actually, that's probably a little harsh. Adam is more than competent at every position he's asked to play and it seems as if he's accepted his role in the NFL, which makes him even more valuable.
- Roy Schuening - 6'4" 308 - Signed through 2010 - Schuening is a depth guy. He's probably not going to start, but he's young, got attitude, and does a decent job at Guard.
Mark Setterstrom - 6'4" 314 - Signed through 2009 - Setterstrom is a guy that lends depth and flexibility to the offensive line. He's cheap and young but he's had plenty of issues with injuries. Strictly a depth guy at this point.
So, there you have it. There's top talent and there's plenty of depth and versatility. Not too shabby especially after looking at positions like Cornerback and Wide Receiver the past couple of weeks.
As far as the draft, it wouldn't be the worst thing for the Rams to look to add someone in the later rounds who might have some upside. Is there anyone who fits that bill? Who really knows when you're looking toward the last few rounds of the draft and you don't know who's going to slip through the cracks and whatnot. But let's see what's projected to be there after the 4th round.
(Here's MockingDan's Offensive Guard rankings)
- Louis Vasquez - Texas Tech - 6'6" 335 - Vasquez might not quite be there in the 5th, but there's always a possibility. If he is, the Rams would be hard pressed not to draft him (if they've satisfied their more pressing needs and really want a backup Guard with potential). He's big and really impressed in the combine putting up 39 reps (more than any other Offensive Lineman. Vasquez excelled as a pass protector but can also get after it when run blocking as well. Can be a bit of a mauler.
- Anthony Parker - Tennessee - 6'3" 300 - Parker played 39 games for Tennessee. He might project out more as a Center due to his size,which is a position he's played in the past, but he's probably a better Guard. He's faster than the average lineman (5.08 40-yard). Was 2nd Team All-SEC in 2009.
Ray Feinga - BYU - 6'5" 331 - Is actually pretty quick on his feet with great lateral movement and has great size. He was named to the All-Mountain West First Team and was part of a very successful BYU offense where he was used primarily in 1 on 1 situations. Has shown the ability to succeed in both pass and run blocking.
- Andy Kemp - Wisconsin - 6'6" 315 - Was named a All- Big Ten Honorable Mention and at one point started 20 consecutive games for the Badgers (broken hand). Some scouts prefer Kemp to teammate Kraig Urbik (projected as high as the 3rd round) since he is a "typical Wisconsin power football player. He won't start but he'll be a good backup."
- Travis Bright - BYU - 6'5" 329 - Named to the All-Mountain West Second Team. Another part of the powerful BYU offense. Is older than the typical draftee (26) since he served on a Church Mission and while his potential is somewhat limited, he should be able to step in and play right away as a backup. Might be able to sign Bright as an un-drafted free agent.
- Rich Ohrnberger - Penn State - 6'2" 291 - Was named as an All-Big Ten First Teamer and AP All-America Third Teamer. Had a good senior campaign at Penn State. Doesn't have great size but makes up for it with improved technique and great physical play. Extremely talented and considered to be a great teammate.
- C.J. Davis - Pittsburgh - 6'3" 310 - All-Big East First Teamer. Started at Left Guard his entire career at Pittsburgh until a late injury caused a vacancy at Center where Davis finished out the season. Made 42 consecutive starts and is considered an accomplished run blocker.
- Cedric Dockery - Texas - 6'4" 320 - All Big XII Honorable Mention two years after tearing his ACL. Played well after coming back from the injury.
And the list goes on and on. After Dockery, you start to see a common theme. Guys who can excel in at least one aspect of the position, great size, and usually played in systems where there was great success either running or throwing the ball. Some other names to consider are Jaimie Thomas (Maryland), George Bussey (Louisville), Roland Martin (Michigan State), Paul Fanaika (Arizona State), Greg Isdaner (West Virginia), Roger Allen (Missouri Western), and Seth Olsen (Iowa). All of these men would provide depth, but I'm not sold on their potential.
For the Rams to get potential along with one of these picks they're really going to have to do their homework, pick someone who matches up perfectly with their coaching staff, and simply get lucky to some extent. If I were trying to do this a safely as possible, I'd probably target Travis Bright of BYU. He's not going to be a starter for you 4 or 5 years down the road (probably), but he is mature and extremely reliable and could step in and spot start in a second.
However, if I were determined to add someone with real potential, I'd have to target Vasquez, Parker, and Feinga. All three of those guys would be good late picks and you could probably get Parker or Feinga a round or two later than you'd find Vasquez.
So, there's your late round look at the Guard position. Honestly, the Rams probably have enough depth at this position, but as we've seen before, you really can't have enough quality depth on your offensive line. There is great value in knowing your backups can step in and not miss a beat if and when they're called upon.
Not having quality depth at the Center position caused a lot of problems for this team last season (and probably in the season before) and I don't see this regime allowing that to happen again at Center or any of the other Offensive Line positions.
It's just too costly and can absolutely wreck your season.