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St. Louis Rams 2014 Offseason Recap

Posted May 28, 2014

Through free agency and the NFL Draft, the Rams have added significant depth in the trenches and defensive backfield thus far.

With a week of both veterans and rookies engaging in offseason workouts at Rams Park behind them and organized team activities just a week away, Head Coach Jeff Fisher can embark on a 2014 season with one of the team’s most complete offseasons in recent memory in the rear-view mirror.

REINFORCEMENTS HAVE ARRIVED

Between free agency and the NFL Draft, the Rams have added the following players this offseason:

QB: Garrett Gilbert (D-6th), Shaun Hill (FA)

RB: Kadeem Jones (UDFA), Tre Mason (D-3rd), Trey Watts (UDFA)

WR: Kenny Britt (FA), Austin Franklin (UDFA), T.J. Moe (FA), Jamaine Sherman (UDFA)

TE: Alex Bayer (UDFA)

OL: Davin Joseph (FA), Demetrius Rhaney (D-7th), Greg Robinson (D-1st), Abasi Salimu (UDFA), Mitchell Van Dyk (D-7th)

DL: Alex Carrington (FA), Aaron Donald (D-1st), Deantre Harlan (UDFA), Michael Sam (D-7th), Ethan Westbrooks (UDFA)

LB: Aaron Hill (UDFA), Caleb McSurdy (FA), Johnny Millard (UDFA), Etienne Sabino (FA), Tavarius Wilson (UDFA)

DB: Maurice Alexander (D-4th), Christian Bryant (D-7th), Jarrid Bryant (FA), Avery Cunningham (UDFA), E.J. Gaines (D-6th), Lamarcus Joyner (D-2nd), Greg Reid (FA), Marcus Roberson (UDFA)

ST: Bobby Cowan (FA), Jorgen Hus (FA)

VIDEO: Rams Draft Picks Arrive in St. Louis

When the Rams dispersed following a season-ending loss at Seattle to conclude the team’s second consecutive seven-win campaign, the Rams entered the offseason with question marks at offensive line and in the secondary. Feel free to place a checkmark next to each of those positions, as they received upgrades in both areas through free agency and the draft, as part of an across-the-board roster upgrade that will be unfurled during OTAs next week.

OFFENSIVE LINE

With the Rams mired in a 1-3 start through the first four games of the 2013 season, Fisher and company re-tooled the team’s offensive outlook when then-rookie Zac Stacy took the reins as the starting running back for the first time in Week 5. After 973 rushing yards during his rookie season, the Rams embarked upon supporting Stacy in their first key move of the offseason. The re-signing of guard Rodger Saffold signaled a commitment to the ground game, a linchpin of a Fisher-coached team, as well as the dominant offensive style of the rest of the league’s best division, the NFC West.

The Rams doubled down on proficient run-blockers when they utilized their second overall draft pick on Auburn’s Greg Robinson, a tackle in college who could move inside to guard alongside left tackle Jake Long during his rookie year in St. Louis.

The Rams utilized the final round of the draft to build depth behind the veteran-most portion of the offensive line, as seventh-round selection Demetrius Rhaney could back up Scott Wells at center. As a final addition to the offensive line, the Rams signed guard Davin Joseph on Tuesday, concluding negotiations that began during the first week of the free agency period. Joseph is an eight-year  veteran who was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2011, as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Despite its distinction as arguably the team’s most effective position group from a year ago, the Rams further supplemented their defensive line. Veteran defensive lineman Alex Carrington became the first Rams free agent pickup this offseason to come from another team. A 3-4 defensive end in Buffalo, Carrington will move inside to tackle in St. Louis, where he’ll join veterans Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford along the interior of the defensive line.

The Rams also used a first-round draft pick to upgrade the position, as the team’s 13th overall selection went to defensive tackle Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh, giving the Rams four first-round defensive linemen for the 2014 season. After leading the nation with 28.5 tackles for loss last year at Pittsburgh, Donald joins Robert Quinn and Brockers, who were the 14th overall picks in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and veteran Chris Long, who was the second overall selection in 2008.

VIDEO: Aaron Donald Highlights

WIDE RECEIVER

One area the Rams elected to stand pat during the draft was at receiver, a position the Rams focused heavily on during the draft a year ago, and supplemented further through free agency.

General Manager Les Snead and Fisher issued vocal support for the team’s current cast of receivers throughout the months leading up to the draft, words that were supported by their decision to not pick a wide receiver among the team’s 11 draft selections.

Last year’s incumbents, which include 2013 draftees Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, have been joined by veteran Kenny Britt, rookie free agents Austin Franklin and Jamaine Sherman, as well as Missouri graduate and first-year wideout T.J. Moe.

The development of Austin and Bailey played a key role in the Rams’ contentedness to elect against adding a member of this year’s receiver draft class.

DEFENSIVE BACK

Easily the most changed position from a year ago, the Rams placed a significant amount of their draft focus on the team’s secondary, which now is without a player with more than three full years of NFL experience. When the Rams take to the practice field for OTAs next week, they will do so with seven new faces among the team’s defensive backs. The Rams utilized second, fourth, and seventh-round picks on safeties and corners, converting a positional need to a surplus entering offseason workouts. 

VIDEO: Meet the 2014 St. Louis Rams Draft Class

Headlining the group is former Florida State defensive back Lamarcus Joyner—who the Rams traded up to select in the second round—and safety Maurice Alexander, whose athleticism and superior tackling ability have made him a natural fit for a Gregg Williams-led defense.

QUARTERBACK/RUNNING BACK

The Rams were certainly not expected to make waves at either quarterback or at running back during the offseason, with Sam Bradford and Zac Stacy entrenched as the starters at their respective positions. That did not, however, keep Fisher and Snead from using draft picks to build depth at each position. The Rams selected Auburn running back Tre Mason with their third-round pick, and used a sixth-round selection on quarterback Garrett Gilbert.

While Mason and Gilbert may not be charged with making an immediate impact in St. Louis, their selections pointed to a holistic approach to the offseason, one the Rams’ brass can take pride in as team activities near.

“We made the decisions,” Snead said in his first press conference following the completion of the draft.

“Obviously if you make them, you think they’re good. But, now is when all of us and the coaching staff and support staff, we’ve got to get together and spend energy making those decisions a success. I always say this: the work starts now, because these kids, they have ability and we picked them and we’re glad they’re here. Now it’s up to the organization to make them successful.”

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