Rams embracing homegrown players

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
12:55
PM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- NFL Nation columnist Kevin Seifert posted an interesting piece this morning on the value of homegrown players around the league. Green Bay is featured in the piece because it has an astonishing 50 players on the roster who have never appeared in a regular-season game for any other team.

It's no coincidence that the Packers have enjoyed great success in recent years. Building through the draft is an idealistic buzz phrase that's easier to say and harder to execute. Most teams around the league do it but very few have the ability to consistently evaluate talent and find the right scheme fits on a yearly basis.

[+] EnlargeJeff Fisher
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsRams coach Jeff Fisher has proven that he wants to build his team through the NFL draft.
From the moment he arrived in St. Louis, Rams general manager Les Snead has made it clear that he and coach Jeff Fisher want to build their roster through the draft and even with undrafted free agents. According to Seifert's research and what he calls the "indigenous player" chart, the Rams have 40 players who have not appeared in a game for another team. Twelve of those players are rookies this year, including five undrafted free agents.

The 13 players on the Rams roster who have appeared in games for other teams: OT Jake Long, OG Harvey Dahl, C Scott Wells, OG Chris Williams, OT Joe Barksdale, TE Mike McNeill, TE Jared Cook, CB Cortland Finnegan, LB Will Witherspoon, S Matt Giordano, QB Kellen Clemens, DE William Hayes and DT Kendall Langford.

Most of the 40 players on the roster have come via the draft or as undrafted free agents but the Rams have also found players who never appeared in games elsewhere but came to the team from practice squads and worked their way to the active roster. Offensive linemen Brandon Washington and Shelley Smith are a couple examples of that.

That total places the Rams in a tie for third with Houston, Cleveland, Dallas and New England for most homegrown players in the league. Atlanta ranks second to Green Bay with 45.

What's interesting about that list of seven teams is there's a mix of successful teams with young teams considered to be on the rise. Green Bay, Atlanta, Houston and New England have put in a system where they place higher value on accumulating draft picks and developing that talent. They churn their rosters when needed and do their best to retain their young talent.

The Rams are in a bit of a different spot. Their youth and homegrown roster is a product of the roster revamp that has been underway the past two seasons. Of course, if all goes as planned, those young players will develop and stick around for a long time with more drafted players on the way.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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