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Will Saffold replace Barron in St. Louis?

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted April 23, 2010 @ 6:58 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

So much for trading the first pick on Day Two.

Instead of trading down for more picks to replenish their talent-starved roster, which is what many close observers for the Rams figured would happen, GM Billy Devaney set his sights on Indiana OT Rodger Saffold, a late bloomer that PFW had tabbed as the Colts' likely No. 1 pick in their final mock draft.

Something tells me that Saffold will become a starter right away, but for that to happen, the Rams likely will have to say sayonara to longtime starter Alex Barron, whose durability throughout his career has been offset by his penchant for turning false starts into an art form.

Can you say good-bye Barron? I think you probably can, considering that it's no secret the Rams have made it known for a while now that he could be peddled.

I think you can fast-forward to Week One and envision Saffold and the Rams' No. 1 pick last year, Jason Smith, as the team's starting bookends.

It remains to be seen whether Saffold, a four-year starter at left tackle, stays on the left side at the pro level. That very well could end up being the case with Smith staying on the right side, which is where he played all of last year opposite Barron when he was healthy enough to play.

A big factor will be the physical condition of both Smith, the second overall pick last year who missed a combined eight games with a knee injury and season-ending concussion issues in '09, and Saffold, who has been tabbed by some personnel evaluators as a medical risk due to a quirky back condition.

The original plan was to make Smith the left tackle for the next decade, and I suspect that is probably still the way the Rams would prefer to go. Then again, maybe not if Saffold, who really started showing up on scouts' radar screens after an impressive showing in this year's East-West Shrine Game, continues to impress.

Saffold isn't flashy, but he is considered a very solid, tough, technically sound performer.

The words "technically sound" have never applied to Barron, and with that in mind as much as anything, I would have the say the Rams are 2-for-2 so far in the 2010 draft with a big-time need to keep that batting average at a high level.

For the most authoritative NFL draft news and free-agency analysis, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.

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