Rams Continue OL Overhaul with Selection of Isaiah Battle in Supplemental Draft

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IJuly 9, 2015

AP Images

The St. Louis Rams continued their youth movement along the offensive line Thursday, selecting Clemson offensive tackle Isaiah Battle in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL supplemental draft. 

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Former Clemson OT Isaiah Battle goes in 5th round of NFL Supplemental draft to...St. Louis Rams.

Battle, who entered the supplemental draft after starting 11 games at left tackle for Clemson last season, will now join four other rookies the Rams drafted this offseason. 

At the standard draft in April and May, St. Louis spent a second-round pick on Wisconsin offensive tackle Rob Havenstein, a third-round pick on Louisville guard Jamon Brown, a fourth-round pick on Iowa tackle Andrew Donnal and a sixth-round pick on Fresno State guard Cody Wichmann. The team also added Virginia Tech guard David Wang and South Florida tackle Darrell Williams as undrafted free agents. 

Taking Battle with the eighth slot in the fifth round means the Rams will not have a fifth-round selection in the 2016 NFL draft. 

The hope is that the youngsters will help remake a front five tasked with powering a strong run game and protecting new starting quarterback Nick Foles

Michael Thomas/Associated Press
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Havenstein is expected to start at right tackle, while Brown is a likely starter at right guard. Elsewhere on the St. Louis offensive line, 2014 first-round pick Greg Robinson is penciled in at left tackle, and 2013 fourth-round pick Barrett Jones should start at center. Rodger Saffold—the 27-year-old former second-round pick of the Rams back in 2010—figures to be the elder statesman of the group. 

Battle may have to wait a year before he's ready to truly compete for a starting job. 

The 22-year-old has the size and athleticism of an NFL left tackle, but his game is raw after only 15 collegiate starts. Arriving at Rams camp without the benefit of rookie camps or organized team activities will leave him far behind his fellow rookies as St. Louis prepares for training camp. 

RICHARD SHIRO/Associated Press

Still, the Rams saw enough development potential to pull the trigger on Battle. 

"Regardless, this left tackle is a player who will be strongly considered by a few teams," NFL.com's Lance Zierlein wrote. "Battle has great length and is able to get into edge-rushers quickly. He has the athleticism to fit in nicely with zone-scheme-running teams."

But Zierlein also voiced some of his concerns of the Rams' new tackle.

"He has issues with waist-bending and leaning on defenders at times, which is the sign of a player who has concerns about his own strength and anchor," Zierlein said, while also stating some NFL scouts worried about his work ethic and character. 

Bottom line: Battle needs time, and it appears St. Louis is prepared for the process. 

According to Ed Werder of ESPN, the Rams plan to take a redshirt year with Battle:

Ed Werder @EdwerderRFA

Rams approach with Isaiah Battle. This is his final college year, spends with Rams, goes through offseason, then starts rookie year in 2016.

Stocking up on young offensive line talent is an easy approach to get behind for St. Louis. 

The Rams figure to employ a run-heavy offense moving forward, with stud running backs Tre Mason and 2015 first-round pick Todd Gurley serving as the centerpieces of the attack. If Gurley returns healthy from ACL surgery, the two backs could form one of the most dynamic and talented running combinations in all of football. 

As a nine-game starter in 2014, Mason averaged 4.3 yards per carry and rushed for almost 800 yards. Gurley's knee is still recovering, but many consider him to be the most talented back drafted since Adrian Peterson

In a perfect world, the Rams will control games much like division rivals in Seattle and San Francisco—using a power run game and stifling defense to smash the opposition into submission. 

The plan is strong in theory. But a power-run game can't work without the horses up front, which is behind St. Louis using the necessary draft capital to give itself a chance along the offensive line. Nothing about young football players can be assumed, but it's hard not to like the Rams' chances of hitting on a few players out of the seven rookies expected to arrive for training camp at the end of this month. 

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Isaiah Battle to the #Rams. Solid spot for him. They can afford to be patient with his development, too.

Last season, St. Louis ranked 20th in the NFL in rushing yards, 17th in rushing average and 23rd in sack percentage. The failures up front necessitated change. This offseason has brought plenty of it. 

The Rams will be young along the offensive line in 2015 and probably again in 2016. But a raw, developing group will be given every opportunity to mold into the offense's anchor point, with Battle included among the most promising youngsters. 

Battle became the first player selected in the supplemental draft since 2012, when the Cleveland Browns took receiver Josh Gordon in the second round. There's clear and implied risk in every selection made at this time of year, but if Battle is a hit, the Rams will be that much closer to building an offensive line capable of powering what St. Louis wants to do on offense. 

Zach Kruse covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. 

Follow @zachkruse2


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