Thursday, May 22, 2014
Rams offseason wrap-up
By Nick Wagoner
With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple months away, we assess the St. Louis Rams' offseason moves.
Drafting an offensive tackle like Greg Robinson in the first round isn't a flashy move, but it's one that will shore up the Rams' line for years to come.
Best move: The Rams bolstered both lines in the first round of the draft by selection offensive tackle Greg Robinson and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. The two picks weren't flashy but flashy doesn't get it done in the NFC West division. To survive in that neighborhood, you have to control the line of scrimmage. Robinson and Donald profile as the draft's best prospects at their positions, which should give the Rams a chance to have two elite long-term difference-makers, something they lack aside from end Robert Quinn.
Riskiest move: Although it could also qualify as the team's best move if it works out, signing offensive lineman Rodger Saffold to a five-year deal worth more than $31 million comes with its share of inherent risk. The deal didn't come with a ton of guaranteed money but the price is still a bit high given Saffold's injury history. Saffold has Pro Bowl potential as a guard, the position he'll play moving forward but above all, he needs to stay healthy to make the deal worthwhile for the Rams.
Most surprising move: Most of the Rams' offseason unfolded as expected. They said they weren't going to be very active in free agency and they weren't. They said they were going to stick with quarterback Sam Bradford and they did. They didn't make any moves that really qualified as a surprise but there were a couple of moves they didn't make that could. For example, not drafting a quarterback earlier than the sixth round. Or not adding a veteran defensive back in free agency, even a lower cost one. There's a lot of trust and hope being placed in young players to take a step forward for this team to improve on its consecutive seven-win seasons.
Enough offense? The Rams bolstered the offensive line by choosing Robinson, retaining Saffold and adding running back Tre Mason in the third round. These moves should allow them to grind away in the run game as much as they want. But they didn't do anything substantial in terms of adding play makers on the outside. Kenny Britt was the lone addition of note among pass catchers and the Rams seem willing to bet that he can bounce back and/or their young receiver corps will take a step forward in 2014. There's no defined formula for winning in the NFL so it's feasible the Rams can win with a strong rushing attack and stout defense but it remains to be seen whether either of those areas are strong enough to overcome their division foes. If they aren't they'll need some magic from receivers coach Ray Sherman and his young charges.