As left guard Rodger Saffold said as he took the stage at the NFL Draft in Dallas, "Finally, the NFC West Champions get to make a pick."
It took a long time — and then a little longer, after trading back a couple picks — but the Rams made their first selection of the 2018 draft on Friday night: TCU offensive tackle Joesph Noteboom.
Throughout the offseason, general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay have spoken of a desire to add depth on the offensive line. Both have mentioned the Rams were fortunate to get through last season as the only NFL team to have all five of its starters play the first 15 games of the season. And while L.A. returns each of the men up front for 2018 — Andrew Whitworth, Saffold, John Sullivan, Jamon Brown, and Rob Havenstein from left to right — there was still a lot to like about Noteboom long-term.
And that's why the club picked him up.
"He played left tackle for the last two years, started 40-straight games, went to the Senior Bowl and was able to play against some good rushers down there," Snead said following the conclusion of the third round. "So, at the end of the day you've got a chance to get a young offensive lineman and add depth, learn from the starters that we have, and develop him to become a future player for us."
The opportunity to study under those the Rams already have in place is one reason why L.A. feels good about Noteboom's chances for success.
"Joe is a lucky man. I don't think any offensive tackle will be in a better situation. That's Andrew, that's coach Kromer, that's Rob Havenstein, that's all of our guys," Snead said. "So it's a perfect situation for him to be able to come and learn from one of the best."
"I think it's a great situation for him being able to come in, learn behind Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein — two tackles that we feel great about — learn under coach Kromer's guidance and leadership," McVay said.
For his part, Noteboom said on a conference call that he understands the nature of the situation and he's excited to learn under Whitworth.
"I know a lot about Whitworth, watched a lot of him," Noteboom said. "I'm going to take in everything he's telling me. It's perfect — I'll learn from a Pro Bowler, veteran."
The TCU product said he had an inkling the Rams liked him since he had a top-30 visit with the club and a formal meeting at the Combine.
Check out photos of Rams 3rd Round selection Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU.
Credit: AP Photo and TCU
"I had a good feeling they were interested," Noteboom said. "Coach Kromer, offensive line, and you know I felt good in the visit. Everyone was pretty interested and I felt comfortable there. So, it was the perfect place."
McVay and Snead said they were impressed with Noteboom's athleticism that he displayed on film, at the Senior Bowl, and at the Combine.
"I think when you just look at the athleticism, his ability to just be able to get removal in the run game, but then just also be able to cover people up in protection — I've watched the way that he can change angles," McVay said. "He understands those types of things."
"I think what stood out first was you saw that athleticism obviously at TCU, but when he got to Mobile it translated down there against some of the better seniors in this draft," Snead said. "But when a guy goes to the Combine and does what he did, that does show you because measurements aren't everything, you still have to play football.
"But what that helps us do is, OK, coming in, learning under an Aaron Kromer, an Andrew Whitworth, a Rob Havenstein — there's upside that he can get better," Snead continued. "There are skills in that body that can ascend. A lot of times with these players too you want to make sure the floor is solid as well. We felt that with Joe."
After Friday's events, the Rams have eight selections remaining in this year's draft — three in the fourth round and five in the sixth. L.A. acquired its fifth sixth-round pick from Oakland, No. 217 overall, by moving back two spots in the third round.
Snead said the club made the move because, "We felt like Joe would fall based on the teams and slots in front of us that were going to move behind, who they had picked earlier and their roster situations. So, it was, OK, let's just get an extra pick and still try to get Joe as well."
That worked out, and now the Rams will head into Saturday in good shape to fill out other roles available on their roster.
"I think when you look at just the players that we have left on the board right now, having those eight picks — with three of them in the fourth and five in the sixth — we feel confident that we're going to add some good depth to our football team, but also some good football players that we feel like are going to be able to help us," McVay said. "That will allow us to acquire good players, number one, but also be able to address some needs where we can improve our depth at certain positions. That's what's exciting is when you've got a great personnel staff led by Les, to be able to have all those plans in place and allow the coaching staff to be a part of it as well."