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What can the Rams learn from the Logan Bruss situation?

The Rams made a mistake with Logan Bruss. What can they learn from it?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams OTA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more surprising moves that the Los Angeles Rams made during roster cutdowns to get to a final-53, was cutting offensive lineman and former third-round pick, Logan Bruss. Bruss was drafted just last season, but after failed position switches and a major injury, it was pretty obvious that Bruss still had a ways to go. Bruss went unclaimed on waivers and landed on the Rams practice squad which is probably the best case for him at this point in time.

During his media availability on Wednesday, Rams general manager, Les Snead said,

“Obviously we didn’t think Logan was there yet. The goal is to still try to get him there. I think from the start with Logan, he came in playing right tackle from Wisconsin, we moved him to guard...then the ACL, then because of some injuries, we moved him back to right tackle. So there’s been a lot that’s occurred with Logan...I don’t want to give up on Logan yet, jacked that he wants to come back because that’s not easy. When we draft a player, release him, and probably release a player a little earlier than we would normally do, it’s a lot easier for him to say,‘Maybe a new ecosystem, new environment’s better for me.’ He really liked what was going on here. (He) felt like this was the best place for him to have a shot of improving and getting to where he thinks he can be and where we think he can be.”

Reading the tea leaves, it was pretty clear that Bruss was on the roster bubble following the final preseason game. After playing the first game at right guard, the Rams then moved Bruss to his alleged more comfortable position at right tackle. Playing just a few snaps there in Week 2, the Rams then tried him as a swing tackle in the final preseason game. Against the Denver Broncos, Bruss played 10 snaps at left tackle.

The Rams were exploring all options before doing the unthinkable and moving on from a third-round pick after just one season. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out. Once Los Angeles traded for Pittsburgh’s Kevin Dotson, Bruss getting cut seemed imminent.

Over the last few years, Snead has been criticized, and rightfully so, for the number of gaffes in the draft. Missing on Bruss only adds to that. When a team has to move on from a day two pick after just one year, something in the process went wrong.

Now, this is a situation where multiple things can all be true at the same time. The draft is a complicated process and very rarely is it as simple as,‘the Rams should have drafted ‘x’ player instead’.

Let’s start with the first truth. The Rams should absolutely be criticized for the pick of Logan Bruss. In the draft, the hit-rate after pick-100 is low, but drafting Bruss was clearly a case of a team drafting for need and forcing an issue rather than taking the best player available.

With that said, the second truth is that there is context for why it didn’t work out and much of it is the Rams’ fault. The team moved Bruss from right tackle to right guard. While it’s become a common thought that tackles can simply just move inside to guard, as I noted when Bruss was moved back to tackle, that’s not always the case. The transition is more difficult than most make it seem. Add on a major knee injury and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Of course, the Rams are to blame for putting Bruss is a position to fail by moving him inside. There is also some bad luck with the injury. All of these things are true in this conversation.

The final truth here may not be a popular opinion, but it’s one that’s worth mentioning. Throughout the Snead era, the Rams haven’t been afraid or had too big of an ego to admit a mistake when one is made. In 2015, the Rams released Nick Foles despite just trading for him the year prior. Within two years of handing out large contracts to Tavon Austin, Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, Allen Robinson and Leonard Floyd, the Rams cut ties.

Snead hasn’t been afraid to take the fall and admit an error when other GMs may have doubled down or seen it through to the end. Now obviously, it sucks that a mistake was made in the first place. The positive here is that Snead has been able to recognize those, act on them, and adjust accordingly.

So, while the Rams can be and should be criticized for the pick and development process when it comes to Bruss, at the same time, they do get some credit for having self-reflection and the awareness that a mistake was made. Let’s be honest, it would have been easy for the Rams simply to save face and keep Bruss on the roster. It’s not a good look when your third-round pick is on the practice squad a year later. Nobody would have blinked an eye if the Rams had kept Bruss over a player like Zach Thomas who was a waiver wire pickup last season. Instead, Snead and the Rams did the hard thing and admitted that they made a mistake.

Hopefully the Bruss mistake is a wake up call and lesson learned. The question becomes, what lessons can be learned? Said Snead,

“Sometimes when you just take an individual case like that, there’s probably not enough because it’s basically a case of one. Most analytics will tell you...it’s better for us to learn lessons with a bigger set of data than one, but we will always try to go back and do a regression analysis from the time we scouted him to now and see what we didn’t do well organizationally and maybe what he didn’t do well and also there’s times there’s bad luck involved. Those luck events do play in. In his case (it) was probably the ACL in setting him back and not necessarily having the reps that some of the other players may have gotten in his draft class from last year, but we’ll try to do that. A lot of times it’s hard to learn in a one data set situation.”

It’s important for the Rams not to overcorrect. This is a front office that has had some draft success and finding players like Jordan Fuller, Ben Skowronek, and Cobie Durant later on in drafts. The draft is hard and there will be misses, some larger than others. That’s no different in Los Angeles where the Rams have had their fair share. At the end of the day, Snead and co. have built a playoff team in four of the past six years.

When the Rams drafted Bruss, it seemed as if they were forcing the issue at right guard. Austin Corbett walked in free agency and the Rams failed to replace him. Once the draft came around, it was a necessity to come out with a starting right guard, despite the highest selection coming at 104 overall.

The Rams then drafted a right tackle in Bruss and moved him inside to guard where he clearly struggled in the preseason. He was never able to settle in and needing to learn a different position at the highest level as soon as he arrived. Bruss did have experience at right guard, but most of his collegiate experience came at tackle. The Rams threw him into the fire before he was ready. The issue is, Los Angeles failed Bruss in the development process just as much as Bruss failed the Rams as a player.

Now, Bruss will spend time on the practice squad where he’ll be able to focus on growing as a player and develop. Due to the injury and being put in situations he wasn’t ready for, Bruss didn’t get this privilege during his rookie season. It will be a long road back to the roster, but Bruss’ story isn’t done yet. After being cut, Bruss will still be seen as a bust, but hopefully the Rams can learn from the failed process and be better off for it.