It's an understatement to say the majority of St. Louis was in an uproar when Todd Gurley was selected tenth last night. It's not that Todd Gurley isn't good because, actually, he was the most talented player on the board when the Rams selected. No, it's that last year the best player on the Rams' board at one point was Tre Mason, the year before that it was Zac Stacy and the Rams don't need five running backs.
While Todd Gurley would have been phenomenal for someone else, he's not a fit here. How could he possibly succeed while running behind one of the worst lines in the league?
At this point, worst line in the league may not be an exaggeration. As of now, the only players I would willingly take on an offensive line that are contracted are Greg Robinson and Rodger Saffold. Otherwise, they're a myriad of backups and castoffs. Let's not cushion the bow anymore: the offensive line is inexcusably bad.
That said, we don't know the plan going forward. This isn't an irreparable problem. Though I find it difficult to believe the Rams end up with a GOOD offensive line, it's within the realm of possibly to be passable. At this point, passable is a huge improvement. Here is the top path to improving the team immediately on day 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft:
Select Lineman Round Two
This is almost a necessity. I get that there are other talented players -- I love the thought of taking Dorial Green-Beckham, Jaelen Strong or Randy Gregory -- but the offensive line needs to be priority number one. That said, here are the best available offensive linemen:
T.J. Clemmings, Jake Fisher, A.J. Cann, La'el Collins
That's a not-too-shabby ensemble. Collins is clearly the most talented, but I'm not sure many NFL teams want to touch him due to the ‘questioning.' Assuming he's cleared of the investigation, he could be a steal. At the other end, he may not be cleared -- that possibility looms largely over his status. Personally, I'm not sure his stock would be as dramatically impacted if not for the recent Aaron Hernandez incident. After all, he isn't a suspect.
Regardless, the Rams need to select from this grouping. My pick of choice is A.J. Cann, due to his well-fitting power running mold, but the team may need to move up to take him. He'll likely go within the first ten. So, why not package a running back with the tenth pick to move up? It's not like we need every running back we have or anything...
So, best-case the Rams move up high enough to grab A.J. Cann by trading a running back and a pick. That seems realistic enough, given a trade partner.
Still, theoretically having selected Cann, there are two openings. Unfortunately, the best remaining options may very well be Joe Barksdale at right tackle and Barrett Jones at center. Jones was a mid-rounder with potential to start a few years ago, and now seems to be the time to afford him that opportunity. Will he excel? I wouldn't think so, but he may serve as an alright bridge between this year and next year when the offensive line can finally be fixed. Joe Barksdale is also a serviceable mid-level player that will neither hurt us nor help us.
In this "best-case" scenario, the line for next season, from left to right, is Greg Robinson, Rodger Saffold, Barrett Jones, A.J. Cann and Joe Barksdale. I can't say I'm excited for a line consisting of one player that's more potential than proven skill, one that's actually solid, one that could be anything, one that's a rookie and one that's simply mid-level. I can't help but think Gurley's choice was a huge mistake; I don't see the point in investing picks in a running back that's running behind a poor line. At this point, few options remain -- we're nearly set to have a 20th or worse line next season.
Then again, maybe Robinson steps up big time and shows why he was picked second, maybe Barrett Jones is a secret monster who is awaiting his unleashing, maybe A.J. Cann will display the same rookie prowess as Joel Bitonio and maybe Rodger Saffold and Joe Barskdale will elevate their play alongside their teammates and together formulate a great line...
Then again, probably not.
For all we know, Joe Barksdale may not be returning, and the Rams may not select A.J. Cann. Hell, they may not select an offensive lineman in the second round at all. We just don't know.
All that we do know is that there exists a massive problem with the offensive line and, as of thus far, there's been futile attempt to fix it.