Perhaps the primary reason that some analysts are still skeptical about the St Louis Rams turning things around this season is because of their offensive line. Sure, the team did sign center Scott Wells and their younger players have had another year of grooming to get prepared, but the group as a whole is still relatively underwhelming. That is why the team should strongly consider adding Marcus McNeill to be the blindside protector for Sam Bradford and gamble that he can stay healthy.
McNeill has had medical issues with his neck and back since coming into the league with the San Diego Chargers, but his two healthy years in 2006 and 2007 showed just what he is capable of. He made the Pro Bowl in both of those seasons and paved the way for running back LaDainian Tomlinson to set NFL rushing records which may never be broken. At just 28 years of age, it’s hard to imagine that a player of his caliber can’t again find that form and play at a Pro Bowl level.
The Rams currently have Jason Smith, former number two overall pick, and Rodger Saffold, a solid second round selection in 2010, at the tackle positions. Saffold was asked to play the left side due to Smith’s injury issues and poor play last season, but he is better suited on the right. Adding McNeill would provide more depth to a rather thin area of the team’s depth chart and provide them with the roster flexibility to move Saffold back to his natural position at right tackle. His presence would also immediately upgrade the running game with Steven Jackson who has put up monster numbers during his eight year NFL career in spite of his offensive line rather than because of it.
In the end, adding McNeill makes too much sense for the Rams not to at least entertain the idea and have him in for a physical. If everything checks out medically, the financial risk would be minimal in terms of the salary cap and the potential on-field gains could be massive. The Rams need to sign McNeill for the well-being of Bradford at quarterback, Jackson at running back, and for the entire offense to excel in 2012.
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