After the additions made via free agency in March, many were quick to proclaim that these St. Louis Rams would be explosive on offense and change their identity. Although the signings of tight end Jared Cook and Jake Long shored up some positions of need, I didn’t buy into the notion that the Rams were going to start putting up points like a video game any time soon after their offensive ineptitude from a year ago. Now that the 2013 NFL Draft is in the books, however, I think it’s time to climb aboard the bandwagon.
There has been a clear message from the front office this offseason and it goes back to General Manager Les Snead saying that the draft was about ‘wants’ not ‘needs’. That really rang true with the additions made over the three-day selection process, and not to pat myself on the back too awful hard here, but each player selected in round one was thought to be a target by the team according to yours truly posted on draft day.
Now what it boils down to for St. Louis is figuring out just how the pieces added in the draft fit into the current depth chart looking ahead to week one. Obviously wideout Tavon Austin will be used in the slot from day one, but he could also see some serious usage lining up in the backfield on end arounds and even on short, efficient screen passes. Austin’s teammate from West Virginia, Stedman Bailey, will likely be placed in a backup role to begin his career with the Rams, but don’t be surprised if he sees the field in a variety of clever packages sure to be drawn up by Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Versatile offensive lineman Barrett Jones from Alabama will be the steal of the draft, and you can mark my words on that one. This kid can play any of the five spots along the front, and in year one he will likely be given the opportunity to start at guard. After the year from hell filled with injuries and incompetence along the offensive line that the Rams had in 2012, Jones will be a welcome presence of consistency.
Running back Zac Stacy wasn’t the player many believed the Rams would target to complement their group in the backfield, but he may be the ideal fit with their current personnel. Both Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson are 5’10” 197lbs. so a player of different dimensions was a must. Stacy fits the bill at 5’8” 216lbs. He will provide the thunder that veteran Steven Jackson would have been to Pead and Richardson’s lightning while the Rams open up the offense a bit more in 2013.
It’s important to remember that this will be the first offseason of continuity that quarterback Sam Bradford will experience during his three-plus years thus far in St. Louis. Having Schottenheimer to bounce questions, suggestions, and everything in between off of during the offseason workouts will be invaluable to this still developing signal caller. Don’t expect the Rams to be one of only six teams to score less than 300 total points in 16 games during the 2013 season. It may not be time to resurrect the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ label just yet, but this team is going to make strides in the year ahead.