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NFL Supplemental Draft 2015 Results: Breaking Down Isaiah Battle's Fit with Rams

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2015

Clemson's Isaiah Battle reacts after an NCAA college football game against South Carolina Saturday Nov. 30, 2013 at Williams-Brice Stadium, in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina won 31-17. (AP Photo/ Richard Shiro)
RICHARD SHIRO/Associated Press

The St. Louis Rams bucked recent trends Thursday by spending a 2016 fifth-round draft choice in this year's supplemental selection process to pick former Clemson left tackle Isaiah Battle. 

Battle was the first player picked in the NFL's supplemental draft since 2012, when the Cleveland Browns spent a second-round selection to nab Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon. 

According to a statement from Rams general manager Les Snead, via ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner, the team is willing to be patient and use its resources to properly hone Battle's skills:

We felt it was an opportunity to get an earlier round value for a later round price. He's going to practice what would've been his final year of college eligibility with us, go through our offseason program, and then start his rookie season a year from now. This will allow us to bring him along gradually both on and off the field. Now it's up to Isaiah and us to go work to reach his potential as a person and player.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller agreed with the Rams' approach: 

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

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

From a pure need standpoint, St. Louis' selection makes sense. 

Last season, the Rams graded out as the second-worst offensive line in football, according to Pro Football Focus. Based on PFF's evaluation, St. Louis finished 28th in run blocking, 30th in pass blocking and 28th in penalties.

And with the fairly immobile Nick Foles now penciled in as the team's starter under center, the Rams are going to need all the help and upside they can get from their big bodies up front in order to keep him upright. 

According to ESPN Stats & Info, St. Louis' offensive line underwent some major renovations during the offseason as a result: 

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ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Of the Rams' 5 OL starters in Week 1 last season, only 1 (Roger Saffold) is still with the team. https://t.co/LvoqBtP2GB

As for Battle himself, Sporting News' Eric Galko broke down the skills that made the 22-year-old an appealing supplemental draft target. 

"He’d fit best in a quick pass protection due to his strengths in pivot control and quick hand exchange to limit quick rush moves," Galko wrote. "His kick slide footwork and patience is impressive and controlled. Battle does play a bit too high for long driving run blocks, but does make contact at first at the second level. He meets with his hands well before engaging blockers and adjusts fluidly to keep his block controlled."  

From a raw athletic standpoint, Battle appears to fit the basic profile of a modern offensive tackle. He's 6'6'', 312 pounds and ran a 5.21 40-yard dash at his pro day. However, he still has plenty of work to do when it comes to the refinement of his technical skills. 

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 03:  Coach Dabo Swinney and Isaiah Battle #79 of the Clemson Tigers celebrate after touchdown against the Duke Blue Devils during play at Wallace Wade Stadium on November 3, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina. Clemson won 56-20.  (Photo
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Since Battle isn't an overpowering presence right now, he could struggle initially when matched up against edge rushers who rely on power to pursue the quarterback. That concern is amplified with a slow and deliberate mover like Foles slinging the ball. However, Foles has experience with quick-strike passing concepts dating back to his time with Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles, and he proved to be proficient in that scheme before suffering a string of injuries.

If the Rams can put Foles in a position to make similar decisions, Battle could eventually—extra stress on eventually—experience some success. St. Louis is reportedly looking to simplify its offense this season under offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, per Wagoner, and that's good news for a prospect like Battle who thrives because of solid quickness and initial punch at the snap.

With open-space playmakers like Tavon Austin and Todd Gurley available to help Cignetti and the Rams achieve their goal of opening things up while relieving the playbook of some density, the offense can take a nice step forward. 

And if that formula proves to be a successful one for St. Louis, perhaps Battle will progress to the point where he'll have a shot at etching his name into the starting lineup.

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