Dan Kadar over at Mocking the Draft has a great piece up today on every NFL team's biggest need and some targets for them to fill it early and late. I highly recommend giving the whole thing a go through, but here's the gist for the Rams:
Early: La’el Collins (LSU), Brandon Scherff (Iowa) -- If you’ve been reading this whole thing, you know the drill on these two.
Late: Jamil Douglas (Arizona State) -- Douglas has experience playing guard and tackle and really gets by on this athleticism. He has value in the fourth and fifth rounds of the draft.
I'd add a caveat that those early picks are largely based on sticking at 10, but they're valid nonetheless.
Of immediate interest are some of the other names Kadar has for other teams needing offensive lineman, albeit less of them than the Rams:
- Colts (right tackle) - Early: T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh), Ereck Flowers (Miami); Late: Andrew Donnal (Iowa), Corey Robinson (South Carolina)
- Titans (right tackle) - Early: Donovan Smith (Penn State), Flowers; Late: Rob Havenstein (Wisconsin)
- Chiefs (offensive line) - Early: Cameron Erving (Florida State); Late: Mitch Morse (Missouri), Shaq Mason (Georgia Tech)
- Giants (offensive line) - Early: Scherff, Collins; Late: Darrian Miller (Kentucky), Robert Myers (Tennessee State)
- Washington (right offensive line) - Early: Collins, Scherff; Late: Jamon Brown (Louisville)
- Panthers (offensive tackle) - Early: Flowers, Humphries; Late: Chaz Green (Florida), Jeremiah Poutasi (Utah)
- Buccaneers (right tackle) - Early: Clemmings, D.J. Humphries (Florida); Late: Ty Sambrailo (Colorado State)
I point those out only to nod at much of the depth in those late picks. I talked about the issue of going overboard on the offensive line when having done so at other positions is exactly what left us vulnerable here. While the largest pre-draft take on the Rams' class is some variation of "it doesn't matter who the QB/WRs are without an offensive line", I'd ask where the hell those comments have been for the last five years running. They're not entirely without merit, but the draft is a vacuum.
The Tavon Austin trade had fans carping that the future was now for a Rams offense that had lacked firepower for years. Jason Smith was a promising athletic tackle who was going to come out of Baylor and be a mainstay on the Rams line in 2009. Alex Barron was a steal at 19 in 2005.
While we should all be interested and excited about what the Rams do at 10 (or wherever the end up pending any possible trades), the constant need to replenish the roster on the offensive line and everywhere else requires the occasional mid- to late-round hit. E.J. Gaines can't be an outlier.
Whether the Rams go OL in round one or not, Rams fans would do well to keep tabs on those late names and follow the draft's carving of the offensive line options as we get past Thursday.