In five of his six drafts as the Los Angeles Rams head coach, Jeff Fisher came away with at least one lineman. In 2015, he came away with four. Drafting linemen was just apart of the plan for shaping the Rams’ identity as a hard-nosed, run-first football team.
That draft plan was just one pillar to Fisher’s failing plan. He was fired with a month left in the season.
With Sean McVay’s first draft, the plan he and general manager Les Snead share appears to focus more on Jared Goff’s weapons that it does his protection. It doesn’t mean McVay’s doesn’t care about Goff’s protection, or Gurley’s production. It just means that perhaps his priorities are aligned differently.
The first example of this was taking positions players with three of the Rams’ first four picks: two wide receivers and one receiving tight end. Like the Rams’ off-season acquisition Robert Woods, all three are possession receivers who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty in the blocking realm.
Willing to block and being able to successfully block are two different things, however, which is why the Rams’ first pick, Gerald Everett from South Alabama, yielded mixed results. Everett racked up 1200 yards in his last two seasons in college, but blocking wasn’t his strong suit.
But it isn’t Jordan Reed’s, either, who became a household name in McVay’s offense. He put up more than 1600 receiving yards, gaining more than 900 in 2015 and averaged five targets per-game, 10.4 yards-per-catch, and six touchdowns last season.
“I have a feeling that Gerald’s one of Sean’s favorite players in the draft,” Rams general manager Les Snead said to ESPN.
New offense, new names, new look
Everett joins an ever-growing list of receiver and receiver types in Los Angeles, like fellow tight end Tyler Higbee.
While McVay admitted some players were already targets before he came into the franchise, he said he and his staff felt great about the draft targets, according to LA Daily News reporter Jack Wang.
The receiving corps added an additional pair to their already-crowded unit; Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds.
Kupp (Eastern Washington) and Reynolds (Texas A&M), like Everett, are both possession receivers who can make plays. They do not possess the breakaway speed or have the ability to burn corners on drag race down the sideline. They can simply make plays, and that’s all an offense that lacks proven playmakers can ask of them.
Los Angeles could hardly move the ball last season and choked when they approached the red-zone, often settling for a field goal, if anything. Big names like Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin couldn’t do much, either through lack of blocking, their own means, or just the offense they were in. Opposing defenses knew the Rams offensive game plan was bad, and they adjusted accordingly by stacking the box, rushing the passer, and having a relaxed pass-defense.
With a new regime, the Rams will have a new offense and that will most likely feature a lot of names, unlike previous Rams’ offenses that relied heavily on 1-2 playmakers.
Make no mistake, the offensive line is a big concern and no one will take a breath of relief until the unit proves themselves from camp until the first chunk of the season. The unit added two veterans at their most needed positions in left tackle and center, and LA added a pair of linemen after the draft in UDFAs.
It will be some time before we see the rubber hit the road for the new plan going forward. But one thing is for sure: the identity is changing for this Rams football team.
Tim Godfrey is the lead LA Rams writer and analyst for Pro Football Spot. Follow him on Twitter @MrTimGodfrey.