Saturday, July 27, 2013
Addressing serious concerns on Rams' line
By Mike Sando
The St. Louis Rams finished 7-8-1 last season with Robert Turner and Barry Richardson leading their offensive line in most snaps played.
They posted that record with Wayne Hunter and Quinn Ojinnaka combining for nine starts (neither player is on a 90-man roster at present). They posted that record with Shelley Smith and Joe Barksdale combining for eight starts after St. Louis claimed both off waivers during the season.
I think that context is important when considering what our NFL scout, Matt Williamson, had to say about the Rams' current offensive line.
The Rams are young just about everywhere but along their line. Center Scott Wells, left tackle Jake Long, right tackle Rodger Saffold and right guard Harvey Dahl combined to miss 21 regular-season games last season. All but Saffold are coming off surgeries. Losing Turner in free agency hurt the depth, and Rok Watkins' release for being overweight was another blow.
From the Rams' perspective, however, the foursome of Wells, Long, Saffold and Dahl are all healthy entering camp. Wells started the final six games last season. Jones is a rookie the team can develop. And if the team could compete with the group it assembled last season, just about anything seems possible. I'd certainly rather go with Long-Saffold than Saffold-Richardson at the tackle spots.
The Rams have stocked their roster at the skill positions while building a capable defense with few missing pieces. But as we look into the future, it's clear the team needs to draft and otherwise acquire talent for its offensive line. Keeping Saffold, who is entering the final year of his deal, could be an option if he plays well this season. Developing Jones would certainly help. Even then, the team could use a couple interior linemen and another tackle.
And if injuries strike the line hard in 2013, Williamson is right. The depth is a concern, for sure.