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The Rams and First Round Linemen

Robert Quinn finds out who the team's offensive coordinator is

Robert Quinn finds out who the team's offensive coordinator is.

Bill Barnwell and Robert Mays do a great job on their NFL podcasts. Yesterday, I listened to their NFC West preview, and it’s just stunning the amount of highly drafted talent the Rams have on both lines. We already know that the Rams have four former first rounders on the team’s starting defensive line, making them the first team since the 2012 Saints to pull off that feat. With Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Michael Brockers, and Aaron Donald, St. Louis has the best defensive line (at least on paper) in the NFL.

But the Rams also have two former first round picks on the offensive line, too, with Jake Long and Greg Robinson, the team’s first overall pick this year.  In fact, consider:

  • St. Louis has three linemen who were first or second overall picks: Long, Long, and Robinson. (Imagine if the Jason Smith pick worked out?)
  • The Rams also have three other linemen drafted in the top fourteen in Quinn, Brockers, and Donald.
  • Add in Rodger Saffold, and seven of the Rams’ starting nine linemen were drafted in the top 33. The exceptions: Scott Wells and Joe Barksdale.

But the 2014 Rams won’t set the record for most starting linemen1 who were former first round picks.  That record is shared by an earlier Rams team and the 1997 Raiders.

  1. I am including all players who started at least half of their team’s games. []
  2. Of note: The Rams third first round pick in 1975 was defensive tackle Mike Fanning. I can not confirm or deny whether Jeff Fisher ran this draft. []
{ 15 comments }
  • Kibbles August 16, 2014, 1:04 pm

    The 2003-2008 Broncos featured 14 defensive linemen selected in the top 35 picks (four of them taken in the top 5), though many of them never became regular starters. Despite their earlier preference for late-round offensive linemen, Denver also drafted George Foster and Ryan Clady in the first round during that span, too.

    A full list of the 1st round linemen to play for Denver during that 6-year span: Courtney Brown (1st overall), Simeon Rice (3rd), Gerard Warren (3rd), Dwayne Robinson (4th), Sam Adams (8th), Ryan Clady (12th), Marco Coleman (12th), Ellis Johnson (15th), Jarvis Moss (17th), Kenard Lang (17th), Luther Elliss (20th), Ebenezer Ekuban (20th), George Foster (20th), Daryl Gardner (20th), and Trevor Pryce (#28). Obviously they were big proponents of Planet Theory. Just for fun, they also threw in John Engelberger (35th overall).

    Turns out it works out much better when you draft your own defensive lineman in the first round than when you just sign any 30+ year old former first rounder who happens to be on the street.

    Reply
  • prowrestlingisstrong August 16, 2014, 7:08 pm

    Making note of all of these first round picks it continues to surprise me how poorly the Rams have played for stretches in the last two years. Mays and Barnwell brought this up and I think its one of the more under rated elements of football and that is player development. A team like Seattle is masterful at taking players that fit exactly what they are looking for and developing them into great players for their scheme. The 49ers also do a wonderful job of development especially on the offensive lines and front seven.

    I guess the point I’m making is that all the draft capital the Rams have used in the Jeff Fisher era is useless if the coaching staff can not mold them. Outside of the d line every area the Rams have invested draft capital in has under performed. The o line is average, the wide recievers are raw and have not improved and the secondary flashes but is very inconsistent.

    I am sold on the athletic talent of this team but I think they have some serious issues with player development. If Fisher can not win at least 9 games this year it is time to get a more proven player developer then him

    Reply
    • Bob August 17, 2014, 10:10 pm

      The Rams had plenty of player development failures before Fisher arrived…

      http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/ram/draft.htm

      2006 – 2011 is pretty rough outside of a few picks from the first few rounds.

      Reply
    • Nick Bradley August 18, 2014, 11:52 am

      Great point. Some teams are much better at developing talent than others. SF and SEA do a masterful job of picking up late round/UDFA talent and either IR/NFI’ing them, stashing them on the P squad, or on the 53 and not suiting them up.

      The Rams *have to spend all this draft capital.

      Reply
    • Richie August 18, 2014, 2:06 pm

      A team like Seattle is masterful at taking players that fit exactly what they are looking for and developing them into great players for their scheme. The 49ers also do a wonderful job of development especially on the offensive lines and front seven.

      I’m not saying you’re wrong, but do we have enough evidence yet that these teams really have a particular skill, or did they just get lucky on a group of a few players?

      Sure, Richard Sherman has been great. But why haven’t they worked their magic with Walter Thurmond?

      Reply
      • J. Adair August 20, 2014, 4:48 am

        Walter Thurmond suffered from injuries and suspensions, which is how Sherman got his shot in the first place. Thurmond did return and become a solid contributor though. Development doesn’t mean you turn all your draft picks into pro bowlers, it just means that they get an above average amount of their draft picks to be solid players.

        Reply

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