EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The good news for the Los Angeles Rams offensive line is that it improved in the eyes of Pro Football Focus in 2015. The bad news is that the three-spot jump in PFF's annual offensive line rankings still leaves the Rams at a lowly 28th in the NFL.
As always, these rankings aren't an end-all, be-all when it comes to performance and there were some positives for the Rams upfront over the course of the season. It was a group that struggled as much as expected in the early going but performed better as the year wore on. Of course, by the time the Rams found some cohesion, it was too late to make a playoff run.
It's exactly what many believed would happen when the team refused to add proven veterans in free agency. After the season, coach Jeff Fisher said he didn't have regrets about the approach.
"As I've said numerous times, since our arrival here we've been wanting to go ahead and build that offensive line through the draft," Fisher said. "We haven't had the opportunity because of the other needs. This year we had the opportunity. This is going to be a good group and it's going to be a good group for a long time with depth.”
Coincidentally, it was the one veteran the Rams did add via free agency that fared the best in the eyes of Pro Football Focus: guard Garrett Reynolds. Reynolds was a stabilizing factor for the line, settling in at left guard but also chipping in at right tackle when need be.
As for biggest disappointment, well, it should be no surprise that the finger got pointed at second-year left tackle Greg Robinson. Robinson still struggles with penalties and pass protection. The Rams need him to take a massive step forward sooner than later or they're going to have seek alternatives.
Still, the Rams appear to have some intriguing young pieces in place. An argument could be made that rookie right tackle Rob Havenstein was the group's most consistent performer when he was healthy. He did not allow a sack or draw a penalty, according to the Rams coaches review of the tape.
This is still going to be a young group in 2016 but at least this time around it will have some experience. Rookies accounted for 31 starts on the offensive line, nearly 40 percent of the total for that group overall.
While the total ranking via PFF's grading system would indicate major issues on the offensive line, it's only fair to point out that the Rams allowed the fewest sacks in the league (18) and finished seventh in the NFL in rushing yards per game.
Undoubtedly, it would serve the Rams well to continue to seek help for the offensive line moving forward, especially at center. But now that they've invested so much time and willingness to lose in the short-term, they'd also be wise to see their investments through.