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Instead of picking o-line to help running backs, Rams pick RB to help o-line

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Cam Akers is not a stranger to playing behind a poor offensive line

Florida State v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Here’s an article from the Florida State 247 site in October of last year, titled “FSU offensive line shows sign of a ‘bright future’ at long last”

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State’s offensive line is showing signs of growth.

It’s still a unit that has a long way to go, but some personnel changes have helped elevate the play of long embattled line. Redshirt junior Andrew Boselli and true freshman Darius Washington each got their first career starts — at center and left tackle, respectively — in FSU’s convincing 35-17 win over Syracuse this past Saturday. This came a week after both saw meaningful action in a 22-20 loss at Wake Forest. Redshirt senior Cole Minshew has helped solidify the line at either guard spot upon returning from an injury a couple weeks back, while true freshman Dontae Lucas has brought a much-needed mean streak to the lineup.

For the first time in years, there’s a sense of optimism among a group that’s recently been among the worst in the Power Five.

And here’s an article from Tomahawk Nation in February of this year, simply titled “FSU Football Spring 2020 Preview: Offensive Line”

Everybody take a knee.

We all know the offensive line will struggle. “For many years now Florida State has survived on the strength of it’s offensive line” is something that would be fun to say but is obviously not true. After all this group is on it’s fourth position coach in four years and has been severely hindered in both talent and development.

I think LA Rams fans know first-hand what it’s like to lose optimism in its offensive line over the last six months. They also know what it’s like to worry that no running back can reach his full potential behind a poor offensive line.

But some running backs can overcome and overachieve behind even the worst offensive lines.

On Friday night, the Rams selected running back Cam Akers out of Florida State with the 52nd overall pick. There was speculation that the team would draft a back at some point on Day 2 because they released Todd Gurley recently, but doing so with their first of four picks on Friday was a surprise to most given that there were still a number of offensive linemen available that are perceived as being capable of helping the Rams, or another team, soon.

Obviously Sean McVay and Les Snead believe that they can help their offensive line and running game soon not by drafting a lineman who they feel is a reach or incapable of helping them in that area, but by drafting a running back who can create opportunities for himself. Without necessarily getting those massive lanes to run through in every game.

It is very hard to find quality tackles after the first round, but still difficult to do so at guard and center. This interior offensive line class was not considered to be that strong and so it is not that surprising that LA may have felt that grabbing someone like Lloyd Cushenberry, Matt Hennessy, or Tyler Biadasz would have been a reach because of position rather than the player who they felt would help them most.

Cam Akers appears to be the player who they believe will help their rushing attack the most and they’ll continue to endorse, it seems, 2019 draft picks Bobby Evans and David Edwards, 2018 draft picks Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen, and fifth round trade chip acquisition Austin Corbett. They also have picks 84 and 104 (as of this writing) to address offensive line, as they took receiver Van Jefferson with pick 57.

Back to Akers.

With an offensive line that was so bad that articles had to start out with the sentence, “Everybody take a knee,” Akers rushed for 1,144 yards and 14 touchdowns. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry, which is not that “woah-ly shit” type number you might see at the NCAA level, but he did so against a “brace yourself” o-line.

As Cam Mellor wrote on Friday night, Florida State had one of the worst offensive lines out of all 130 Division I programs. He ended up with 78 broken tackles last season alone, a mark that if he put it up at the pro level, would be at or above Marshawn Lynch territory. The Seattle Seahawks rode Lynch for several years as a tackle-breaking machine behind an offensive line that would often self-destruct, and it would appear that at least for now the Rams see themselves in a better position to rely on their back to find yards to eat rather than constantly being fed.

It’s not too late for LA to improve the offensive line and I would assume they’ll naturally regress upwards next season anyway, but Akers may have been a pick indicating that they’re ready for it to be a bit more challenging to run than in recent years.