It finally happened. After years and years of passing on first-round offensive linemen, head coach Jeff Fisher pulled the trigger. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, the St. Louis Rams selected Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson with the second pick in the draft.
Rams' initial plan to is to play No. 2 overall pick, former Auburn left tackle Greg Robinson, at left guard. Left tackle one day.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 9, 2014
The pick wasn't necessarily a sexy one for the Rams, but it was a necessary one. Robinson can arguably play any spot on the offensive line outside of center and has drawn comparisons to Orlando Pace and Willie Roaf.
The comparisons make a ton of sense because of Robinson's size (6'5", 332 lbs), but they also make a ton of sense when you look at what he can do as a run-blocker. Here's what Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com had to say about Robinson's run-blocking ability in his scouting report:
Has long arms and excellent overall body mass. Outstanding run blocker with the strength and power to wash down half of the line. Creates a surge and generates power from his lower body. Good get-off and body control. Excellent reach-blocking, chipping and releasing to the second level. Very good balance in his set and is quick to cut off the rush. Can maneuver his hips, shuffle, slide and mirror. Has a strong punch and replaces his hands. Very athletic in vertical sets.
Based on Nawrocki's scouting report and the level of ability Robinson showed on tape, it's easy to see why St. Louis valued his services so much. Coach Fisher and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer love to run the football.
In addition to averaging 26.6 rushes per game in 2013, the Rams gained 19.2 percent of their first downs on the ground. Furthermore, the analysts at Pro Football Focus (subscription required) awarded four of St. Louis' offensive linemen with positive run-blocking grades.
It's safe to say Robinson will be the next Rams offensive lineman to garner a positive run-blocking grade from the folks at PFF. However, the same can't be said about his pass-protection skills. Rob Rang of CBS Sports believes the 21-year-old mauler is still developing as a pass-blocker:
Developing pass blocker with all of the physical traits scouts look for in an NFL left tackle. Quick out of his stance, plays with good flexibility and has the long arms and strong hands to catch edge rushers and ride them out of the pocket. An exceptional talent just scratching the surface of his potential.
Yes, offensive line coach Paul Boudreau will have to work extensively with Robinson on his technique in pass protection, but that's OK. Why? Because Boudreau has a good track record of coaching players up. For a case in point, look at what he did with offensive guard Shelley Smith and right tackle Joe Barksdale last year.
Both players overachieved in a big way. Per PFF, Smith amassed a plus-seven overall grade and Barksdale amassed a plus-12.2 grade overall. That's incredible when you consider how poorly both players performed in 2012.
Even though St. Louis would have probably selected South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney if he would have been there, Robinson gives the Rams exactly what they need up front for the next 10 years.
He will play left guard to start his career and take over at left tackle for Jake Long when the Rams move on from him.