<
>

NFC West thoughts as Barron trade nears

The St. Louis Rams were of course happy to select Alex Barron with the 19th overall choice of the 2005 NFL draft.

"He is a terrific left tackle; he has the athleticism to do that," then-coach Mike Martz said at the time. "He is as close to Orlando Pace without being Orlando Pace in terms of that type of natural athleticism."

Times change. Coaches change. Front offices change.

A change might do Barron good. The Rams' starting left tackle last season signed his one-year tender as a restricted free agent Friday, clearing the way for the Rams to trade him to Dallas for linebacker Bobby Carpenter (a player Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once expected to become a team leader).

The question for the Rams is whether having Barron for one more year would be better than taking a chance on Carpenter, the assumption being that the Rams would not retain Barron for the long term after using early draft choices for Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold. The Rams' offensive line would have better depth this season with the durable, if inconsistent, Barron still in the mix.

The chart lists Barron as one of several tackles leaving the NFC West after the 2009 season. Walter Jones, Mike Gandy and Barron stand out as the three starting-caliber players on the list (at least when Jones and Gandy were healthy). I included Tony Pashos and Brandon Frye even though they were veteran backups.

NFC West teams added tackles Russell Okung (Seattle), Anthony Davis (49ers) and Saffold (Rams) among the top 33 choices in the 2010 draft. Saffold could also play guard.

On the way out: NFC West offensive tackles