EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams spent more time, money and premium draft picks on their offensive line than any other position group in the offseason.
By the time the draft was through, they had handed Rodger Saffold a lucrative contract and spent the No. 2 overall pick on Greg Robinson. More recently, the team added another well-known name, guard Davin Joseph.
Flying under the radar was a simple waiver claim the team made in late May. In the dead period between the end of the draft and the start of organized team activities, the Rams claimed offensive lineman Travis Bond from the Carolina Panthers.
The move didn't draw many headlines and certainly didn't create much of a buzz among those projecting the team's 53-man roster. But Bond is hoping he can do enough to earn his way on to the Rams' roster.
"You have got to come out here and compete," Bond said. "They have a great defensive line here, so coming in I just find myself competing on every play no matter who I am going against. I have got to prove to the coaches I am one of the guys they should keep on the 53."
While the Rams are mostly set with their starting five on the offensive line, there is much to work out beyond that group. The competition for depth on the offensive line figures to be fierce, especially on the interior. The Rams bring back Tim Barnes, Barrett Jones and Brandon Washington as backup options. They invested further in the offseason by signing Joseph to a one-year deal and drafting center Demetrius Rhaney.
At 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds, Bond certainly looks the part of the prototype for what the Rams like on the offensive line, especially on the interior. He was originally a seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2013, but finished the season with the Panthers after they signed him from the Vikings' practice squad in November.
The North Carolina product was a bit taken aback when the Panthers released him after the draft.
"It caught me by surprise, but it’s the business of the thing," Bond said. "Maybe they saw something that I didn’t fit right for the team. Maybe they made the right choice, maybe they didn’t, so I’ll live with it, they’ll live with it and I’ll just move on."
Making any determination on where Bond fits at this point in OTAs would be an exercise in futility. It's not worth judging anyone in OTAs without pads on, but especially the linemen. Where Bond can make his mark in the early going is by demonstrating the ability to quickly learn a new offense and, more important, some positional versatility.
While Bond cuts the figure of a natural at guard, he also has experience playing tackle. He played left tackle in high school, but worked at right guard and right tackle in college. Since arrival in the NFL, he has done a little of everything except center.
In St. Louis, much like many places, Bond's chances of making the roster as a backup could well come down to his ability to be effective at multiple positions. That isn't lost on him.
"If you play offensive lineman in the NFL, you have got to be an offensive lineman," Bond said. "You can’t be one specific player. Even Greg coming in as the second pick, he’s playing guard. You have got to be versatile. I don’t care how tall you are, how short you are, you have got to be versatile and open-minded to anything."