National Football League

Why the Rams Will Likely Address the O-Line in First Few Draft Rounds

Do a Google search on “2015 NFL mock drafts” and then locate the Rams at No. 10. There’s a possibility that you’ll find five different prospects listed next to the Rams’ selection in the first five mocks you click.

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Fisher has expressed satisfaction with his wide receivers, making an early draft pick at that position unlikely.

It would appear as though nobody has a grasp on which direction Jeff Fisher and Les Snead will take next Thursday night.

Some mocks have St. Louis selecting Iowa guard Brandon Scherff at No. 10, while others have the Rams taking Louisville receiver Devante Parker or Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes. While all three are possibilities for the team in the first round (although Parker seems like a reach with the way Fisher continues to speak glowingly of his current wide receiver corps), chances seem high that the Rams are going to address their O-line with at least two of their first three selections.

As we’ve discussed ad nauseam, St. Louis still has holes to fill at offensive tackle, guard and center. While there’s always a possibility they could bring back Joe Barksdale or sign Justin Blalock after the draft, it’s likely the Rams address their O-line needs within the first three rounds.

Schreff makes sense for the Rams because a) he fills a need and b) he fits the mold. Fisher runs a power-based rushing attack and Schreff is the best run-mauler in this year’s draft, so the marriage is perfect, right?

But after playing left tackle at Iowa, many expect Schreff to move inside to guard in order to maximize his strengths as a run-blocker and minimize his issues in pass protection. If the Rams also view him as a guard, then passing on him and waiting to address the position in the middle rounds makes more sense.

Teams can find starting guards in the middle rounds. For every Zack Martin or Kyle Long taken in the first round, there are plenty of Marshal Yanda’s (third), Evan Mathis’s (third), T.J. Lang’s (fourth), Josh Sitton’s (fourth) and Kelechi Osemele’s (second) to be found in Rounds 2-4. Don’t get me wrong, most teams would love to have Martin, Long, Mike Iupati or David DeCastro in the middle of their offensive lines. But generally speaking, the talent doesn’t drop off as significantly at guard as it does at tackle when it comes to the NFL draft.

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With Jenkins set for free agency after 2015, the Rams could have a draft need at cornerback.

Thus, I could see the Rams bypassing on Scherff (if he doesn’t come off the board to the Giants at No. 9, that is) and taking Stanford’s Andrus Peat instead. Peat isn’t in the same ballpark as Scherff as a run-blocker. Nor does he play with the same nastiness, but I could see the Rams falling in love with him as a technician and a fundamentally sound pass-protector.

After all, the Rams could wind up starting two rookies along their offensive line, so nabbing a plug-and-play prospect at No. 10 makes sense. (For the record, I’ve written several times that I would love to see the Rams trade down to create more value for themselves in the first round. I’m just discussing what I think the Rams will do.)

If Peat or another offensive lineman is the team’s pick at No. 10, it’s logical that they could double down with a guard in the second round. Duke’s Laken Tomlinson has excellent functional strength, is fundamentally sound in pass protection, and wants to finish defenders in the running game. He also does a nice job getting to the second level and engaging linebackers, plus he’s quick enough to get out ahead in screens.

A combination of Peat and Tomlinson won’t excite fans looking for splashy names in the draft, but both could project as starters if the Rams do nothing else in free agency.

The other scenario has the Rams taking either a pass rusher or cornerback at No. 10, then taking an offensive tackle in the second round (perhaps Florida’s D.J. Humphries will slip), and then an offensive guard in the third (Florida State’s Tre Jackson and Josue Matias are two of my favorite guards in the middle rounds). Some fans’ heads will explode if the team drafts another pass rusher, but the reality is that you can never have enough (ask the Super Bowl XLII and SBXLVI champion Giants).

Cornerback is also a possibility with Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson both set to become free agents after the 2015 season.

No matter how things break for the Rams in the first three rounds, the likelihood of them addressing their biggest need on the first two nights of the draft is seemingly high.

Read More: The Rams’ Free Agency Silence Makes Their Draft Strategy Clear