This week's game changer is the Rams second round pick from the 2010 draft, Rodger Saffold.
Since spending their first round pick in 2005 on Alex Barron, the Rams have struggled with their offensive line. Not necessarily because of Barron exclusively, but his presence never allowed the unit to transcend into a reliable group. They had their moments. In fact, a group including Barron at LT, for an injured Orlando Pace, and a bunch of replacements were the best unit the Rams had until the group started to gel mid-season last year.
However, with committed guys like Jason Brown and Jason Smith - who owed their fortunes to the new regime at Rams Park - Barron was the odd man out, the weakest link of the bunch. A capable enough guy whose best asset was his ability to stay healthy. That wasn't enough.
Devaney had a few feeble offers for the team's 33rd overall pick, the top pick of the second round, nothing worth taking. Instead, the team surprised lots of people and nabbed Indiana OT Rodger Saffold. It was a decision that raised more than a few eyebrows, mostly because people felt the Rams had an adequate starter in Barron and the talent still available with that pick.
Nevertheless, the team chose Saffold, and with that decision they chose to complete the transformation up front. The wall protecting Sam Bradford can contain no weak links, and Barron, for all his adequacy, was never reliable snap to snap. Saffold may not be either. However, he does come to the team as a very highly thought of prospect. Many had him with a first round grade, some had him with a third round, but in a deep draft, those judgments don't tell us much.
Saffold looks like a natural for the right side, where he can use his well-regarded run blocking ability. He could even move to the left in a pinch.
Like I said above, the jury is still out as to whether Saffold will be a game changer on the field. That jury is likely to be out for a while since the team won't put on pads for another two months. Still, Saffold has allowed the Rams to remake the lineup according to the vision of a committed front office and coaching staff. As with Saffold, the jury is still out on that too.