*As seen on www.acsportstalk.com by Mike Uva
WORCESTER, MA -- With the 2nd pick in my 2014 NFL Mock Draft 1.0, the St. Louis Rams select…
Jake Matthews – OT (Texas A&M)
For the casual fan, this pick might not look as flashy, but to the Rams this pick makes all the sense in the world. After finishing the season 7-9, the Rams are in need to find an offensive linemen to help carry the load for the injury prone Jake Long.
A look at the St. Louis Rams’ first round draft history with offensive linemen since joining the NFL in 1937.* Of the 14 number of linemen drafted in the first round, (8) have been offensive tackles.
Year Pick Player POS College
2009 2 Jason Smith OT Baylor
2005 19 Alex Barron OT Florida State
1997 1 Orlando Pace OT Ohio State
1994 15 Wayne Gandy OT Auburn
1986 23 Mike Schad OT Queen's (Canada)
1979 26 Kent Hill OT Georgia Tech
1975 11 Dennis Harrah G Miami (Florida)
1975 20 Doug France OT Ohio State
1966 2 Tom Mack OT Michigan
1963 10 Rufus Guthrie G Georgia Tech
1955 7 Larry Morris C Georgia Tech
1954 10 Ed Beatty C Mississippi
1953 9 Donn Moomaw C UCLA
1941 4 Rudy Mucha G Washington
*Rams were members of the AFL in 1936 before joining the NFL in ’37.
St. Louis needs a big physical offensive linemen that can help do two things:
1. Protect Sam Bradford
2. Dominate on run blocking
Yeah it may sound cliche but when you're a team that's coming off a season where the injury bug was going around like it did for them, that's exactly what you need.
Ranking third worst in the league last season for yds/gm for an offense, the Rams dealt with adversity all season long. With Long tearing his ACL last December, the Rams will need to draft a player who can make an impact right away to fill that missing void. In addition, St. Louis will have to provide security for Bradford, who's coming off his second injury in three years - torn ACL (2013), high ankle sprained (2011).
At 6-5 308 lbs, Matthews has the size and strength to be what the Rams need for pass blocking with a blend of speed to make him a force for helping their run game as well. Losing Steven Jackson to free agency prior to last season, the Rams ranked 18th in the league in 2013 in rushing, averaging just over 109 yds/gm. It was the first time since 2004 that the Rams failed to produce a 1,000 yard running back for the season.
But that's not to try and take away anything that Zac Stacy was able to do. Stacy is coming off an impressive rookie campaign - 979 yds/ 7 tds/ 255 att. - and it's imperative to build the young running back's confidence in his second year. The NFL may be a passing league, but if there's any coach that knows how to build valuable running backs still, it's Jeff Fisher. Also, with Bradford coming back from an injury, taking the workload off him will require consistency on the ground - something the Rams began to show later in the season.
So why Matthews and not Auburn's Greg Robinson? Well for starters, Matthews adds more value in comparison to Robinson. Playing left tackle this past season and right tackle in 2012, Matthew's experience allows the Rams to cater to their needs. I've mentioned that Long is coming back from an injury so what better way to have flexibility between both tackle positions then to have a guy that can play both.
Nothing against Robinson, who paved the way for teammate Tre Mason to be a 2013 Heisman finalist, but Matthews protected Johnny Manizel, a quarterback who often held onto the ball for an eternity and required his offensive linemen to hold blocks for extended periods of times. What this also created was the chance for Matthews to show his ability to get to the second level and block down field, which is why scouts are drooling over his run blocking ability.
Robinson is a raw player who's size will only develop in the next couple years. Declaring as a redshirted sophmore, Matthews has only played offensive tackle since 2009. Maybe long-term Robinson will have a better career than Matthews, but with the circumstances being what they are, the best option for the Rams, RIGHT NOW, is to draft Matthews.
For the Record: