Many are aware of the track record the current St. Louis Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher has had in the past when it comes to the NFL Draft and offensive linemen. Never in his 16 years as a coach have one of his teams taken a man in the trenches in the first round. For a Rams team that is starving for talent all along the offensive front, that is a bit disconcerting. Fortunately Fisher put some of those misconceptions to rest at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this week.
When asked about taking a lineman in the opening round this time around, the man roaming the sidelines for the Rams said: “Yeah. I’d draft just about any position in the first round, except maybe a kicker or punter. We don’t need those.” It wouldn’t be a true Fisher response without a touch of snark, but that is definitely a welcome answer for Rams fans. Perhaps the man who appreciates that answer the most is quarterback Sam Bradford who has picked himself up off of the turf an astounding 105 times in 42 career starts with the team.
A couple of players who have been linked to the Rams with the 16th and 22nd overall selections this April are tackles Lane Johnson of Oklahoma and D.J. Fluker of Alabama. Both are expected to fall somewhere in that middle of round one range where the Rams choose and both would offer immediate upgrades to the personnel currently assembled on the club’s roster. Coincidentally (or not) the Rams had formal interviews with Fluker on Thursday and Johnson on Friday.
General Manager Les Snead has a similar approach to the draft as coach Fisher and when he was asked about drafting offensive linemen, he said: “Here’s what we need. We need the best players. Traditionally guard, right tackle, maybe they’re not valued for some reason. But if he’s gonna actually dominate, help us really become a dominant team, draft that.” It’s great to hear that Snead is willing to buck conventional wisdom in favor of adding talent to a Rams depth chart that is really lacking in that department along the offensive line.
What seems apparent from both of these guys is that the Rams need to improve on offense. They were just one of eight teams to score fewer than 300 points during the 2012 season. Snead went on to say: “Obviously we want to get better in scoring offense. That’s the number one priority. Score points, win games. Offensive playmakers and weapons come in all shapes and sizes. They can be 5’8”, they can be 6’5”. They can come in and help you block and score points that way. They can also be on the defensive side of the ball, because if you keep that team from scoring that helps your offense.”
While that last little comment may be just for show to throw other teams off track a bit on the Rams way of thinking heading into this draft, it seems clear that the Rams will look to improve a less than stellar offense in 2013. As Snead said, there are many different ways to do that, but whether it is a skill position player or a big fella down in the trenches, the Rams need to add some quality players to put more points on the board in the upcoming season.