Rams draft 2 offensive linemen, quarterback
May. 02, 2015
ST. LOUIS (AP) — For the St. Louis Rams, the second day of the NFL draft was all about filling roster holes.
They addressed their biggest needs on Friday night, trading down to add picks and then adding two offensive linemen and a quarterback.
"The elephants in the room are all out," general manager Les Snead joked.
The Rams took tackle Rob Havenstein of Wisconsin in the second round and Jamon Brown of Louisville, who projects as a guard, with the first of two third-round picks.
"We've got two big, strong, physical players," coach Jeff Fisher said. "They fit our style."
Then, they took record-setting quarterback Sean Mannion of Oregon State.
St. Louis began the draft with six picks after averaging more than nine the previous three years and took Georgia running back Todd Gurley in the first round. They also added a pick in the sixth round by trading down 16 picks with Carolina.
The Rams have only two offensive line starters back. Veterans Jake Long and Scott Wells were released and tackle Joe Barksdale is an unrestricted free agent. Fisher said the team remains interested in re-signing Barksdale.
The 6-foot-7, 321-pound Havenstein was a three-year starter at right tackle. Wisconsin set a school record last season averaging 320.1 rushing yards, third in the nation. He opened holes last year for Melvin Gordon and before that, Montee Ball. The 6-foot-6, 326-pound Brown was the 72nd overall pick and probably projects as a guard. He started every game his last three seasons and was second-team All-ACC as a senior, when he allowed just two sacks.
"At this point, I can't make any predictions," Brown said. "I'll just play wherever they ask me to play and if that means playing guard, I'll play guard. We haven't really gotten into the details."
The Rams drew criticism for lacking a successor to Sam Bradford last year. When Bradford was sidelined with a knee injury in the preseason, backups Shaun Hill and Austin Davis split time.
Mannion threw 37 touchdown passes as a junior but stayed in school after being given a likely third-round grade. The personnel weren't as strong his senior year and he had 15 touchdown passes, but he impressed the Rams in a private workout about two weeks ago.
"I thought I threw the ball really well," Mannion said. "I felt great about all of it. I felt like I put my best foot forward."
The 6-foot-6, 229-pound Mannion was the 89th overall pick, one pick later than current Rams starter Nick Foles was selected in 2012. He set 18 passing records at Oregon State and set the Pac-12 record for passing yards as a senior. He totaled 13,600 yards, eighth most in Division I history.
Gurley is coming off left knee surgery in mid-November and the Rams don't know if he'll be ready for the opener. They have plenty of depth with third-round pick Tre Mason rushing for 765 yards and a 4.3-yard average last year and Zac Stacy just missing 1,000 yards as a rookie in 2013.
Stacy tweeted his disappointment after the Gurley pick and then asked for a trade.
"We'll get to that," Fisher said. "I understand his concern. Zac, he's a team guy."
In his first appearance at Rams Park, Gurley characterized his rehab as "fun," then amended that to "a little slow." He's using Adrian Peterson's rapid recovery from an ACL tear as inspiration during his climb back to health.
"It's definitely a grind," Gurley said. "The biggest thing is just being patient."
While waiting for his name to be called, the running back said he told some jokes.
"I was like 'Dang, man, maybe I have bad service in here because there aren't any teams calling me right now,'" Gurley said.
Gurley was the first running back taken in the first round since 2012, and GM Snead quipped that Fisher "saved the running back."
Fisher hit it big drafting running backs in the first round when he was with the Titans, getting Eddie George and Chris Johnson. Whenever his knee is ready, Gurley believes playing in a pro-style offense at Georgia will help.
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