Every day, I come across comments either here on TST or on the Facebook page or scrawled on some bathroom wall that the Rams need to draft offensive linemen in the 2015 NFL Draft. Multiple linemen. Early. Often. Always.
I get it. I do. I've said it in a couple pieces recently how bleak things look on the line.
The Rams currently have two starting offensive linemen on the depth chart. One is a rookie who underwhelmed in his first year after being selected #2 overall. The other is an oft-injured tackle-turned-guard who is only still a St. Louis Ram thanks to the dysfunction in the Raiders' hierarchy.
Not exactly inspiring.
But I would caution fans who think the solution is to throw everything at the line in one year, all other options be damned. Or even the more rational arguments at going heavy on the line at the expense of all other opportunity costs.
Because it's a bit illogical to expect/demand the people who allowed the line to get in this shape to be the ones to fix it.
Here are all the offensive linemen drafted by the Rams since Jeff Fisher and Les Snead arrived:
|Greg Robinson||OT||2014||1||2 (2)|
|Mitchell Van Dyk||OT||2014||7||11 (226)|
|Demetrius Rhaney||C||2014||7||35 (250)|
|Barrett Jones||C||2013||4||16 (113)|
|Rokevious Watkins||G||2012||5||15 (150)|
And that's it. That's your three-year track record for drafting offensive linemen. Not exactly a huge emphasis for Snisher, and now we're seeing the dividends. It's worth repeating every year, but drafts always trump free agency. The FA additions of Jake Long, Scott Wells and Davin Joseph did little to delay the inevitable. The Rams one hit in FA on the line, Joe Barksdale, may accept a new employer this offseason. Meanwhile, the continued clamor for Stefen Wisniewski and Justin Blalock continues...
Compare that to the Rams' post-Steven Jackson running back plans, a clear indication of how much Jeff Fisher values the position:
|Tre Mason||RB||2014||3||11 (75)|
|Zac Stacy||RB||2013||5||27 (160)|
|Isaiah Pead||RB||2012||2||18 (50)|
|Daryl Richardson||RB||2012||7||45 (252)|
That's four running backs (not even going to mention Benny Cunningham or Tavon Austin here...) vying for a single position versus five offensive linemen spread out across...well, five positions.
Fans are asking Snisher to "fix the O-line" when they're the ones that ensured its downfall by ignoring it to buttress positions that were already sufficiently (though I'd cede that point's arguable) employed positions.
|Lamarcus Joyner||CB||2014||2||9 (41)|
|E.J. Gaines||CB||2014||6||12 (188)|
|Brandon McGee||CB||2013||5||16 (149)|
|Janoris Jenkins||CB||2012||2||7 (39)|
|Trumaine Johnson||CB||2012||3||2 (65)|
That's three day two picks for CB, two at RB and just Greg Robinson for the O-line.
None of this would be all that difficult to stomach if the Rams' CB corps were stronger. That E.J. Gaines, a 6th-round pick albeit a positive surprise, can come in and displace so many of his peers who were much more highly coveted says something about the Rams decision making process. So too does Daryl Richardson being named your 2013 week one starting RB ahead of Zac Stacy who would go on to nearly rush for 1,000 yards in his rookie season; fast-forward a year and a half and Stacy's sharing backup duties with Cunningham behind Mason and Daryl Richardson's heading into training camp to fight for his NFL life with the Jets.
I'm not disagreeing that the Rams could use some draft capital on the offensive line. I'd just hedge against going all in just because the need erupted in 2015. Otherwise we might be looking at the 2018 NFL Draft with a dozen highly drafted offensive linemen screaming to empty the payload for cornerbacks and running backs when those cupboards go bare.