Rams Steal the Show on Day One

Posted May 9, 2014

The St. Louis Rams added strength in the trenches in offensive lineman Greg Robinson and defensive tackle Aaron Donald on day one of the NFL Draft.

In constructing their roster through the draft, Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead have conspicuously placed a heavy emphasis on matching up with the rest of what is widely considered the best division in the NFL, the NFC West.

PHOTOS: From the War Room | Robinson at the NFL Draft

Eschewing the opportunity to select a flashy, skill-position upgrade such as Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins or entertaining a first-round addition to the quarterback position, the Rams enhanced their position at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. In a division that relies heavily on establishing and defending the run, Snead and Fisher addressed both needs with the selections of offensive tackle Greg Robinson at second overall, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald 11 picks later.

“We still have an opportunity to do so, to make some choices along those (skill position) lines,” Fisher said. “We felt like we definitely address both sides of the ball up front. Now, there were some other options there had Donald not been there. We could’ve gone another direction, but I really felt like this was the best thing for this football team right now.”

VIDEOS: Greg Robinson Highlights | Aaron Donald Highlights

The Rams were on the verge of doubling down at offensive tackle in the first round, as they made an attempt to strike a deal with Baltimore for the 17th overall pick, which would have been utilized on Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin. The attempt to acquire Martin only underscored a heightened focus on building the Rams’ roster from the interior, a hallmark of NFC West contenders Seattle and San Francisco.

“It’s always interesting in the draft, and I know Jeff will tell you, football teams, you build from the inside-out,” Snead said. “I always say that’s when you’re building your foundation and at the end of the day, I agree, when you lay your foundation for your skyscraper, it’s probably the least exciting thing that you do but that’s the thing that holds that skyscraper up for a lot of years. It was definitely a strategy that we’re going to get our foundation stronger and I think that’s going to help us.”

The Rams featured a defensive line that was among the league’s most productive in rushing the passer, though struggled at times in containing the run. Donald certainly alleviates any liability toward that end, evidenced by his 28.5 tackles for loss while at Pitt in 2013 to lead the NCAA in the category. Joined with fellow defensive tackle Michael Brockers and defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, the Rams will have a four-man front entirely composed of first-round draft picks at their disposal.

The addition of Robinson presents a similar theme, as the Rams added a tackle who is widely considered the top run-blocking lineman available in the draft. In a span of just over an hour, the Rams managed to decisively address a need on each side of the football, while outlining a blueprint for roster construction in the NFC West.

“We’re excited—very excited,” Fisher said. “We’ve got to get better, and we did today.”