EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Much has been made of St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher's history of passing on offensive linemen in the first round as a head coach. Entering Thursday night, Fisher had held 17 picks in the first round as a head coach and never selected one in the opening round.
But Fisher long insisted that his avoidance of linemen in the first was not intentional and more a matter of circumstance. His Titans/Oilers teams had players like Brad Hopkins entrenched in their spots.
On Thursday night, Fisher bucked the trend and darn near blew it away completely by taking not one but two big uglies for his offensive line.
After using the No. 2 overall pick on Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, the Rams were surprised to see a few of their favorite targets tumble down the board to their second pick at No. 13. Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald was ultimately too much value for the Rams to pass up but had he been gone, the Rams would have gone the way of San Francisco circa 2010 and doubled down on offensive linemen.
The target was Notre Dame's Zack Martin, a player the Rams had been eyeing as a possible pick for some time. Even after passing on Martin, though, the Rams almost made the boldest of moves to add him to the haul that already included Robinson and Donald.
“We actually made an effort just a few minutes ago to go back up to try to get Martin but we were unsuccessful,” Fisher said.
After the Rams took Donald, Chicago drafted Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller and Pittsburgh grabbed Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier. The Rams commenced conversations with Baltimore at No. 17 about moving up for Martin.
That would have meant a move from the second round at No. 44 overall and probably cost the Rams a boatload of picks or, perhaps, a first-round pick in 2015.
"It would’ve been pricey but worth it," Fisher said. "It was a good pick for the Cowboys.”
Dallas quickly stamped out that possibility by drafting Martin at No. 16. Another player the Rams really liked at No. 13, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, remained on the board and also had the Rams' attention but the Ravens took him right after Martin went to the Cowboys.
“They all went," general manager Les Snead said. "I had left and then I came back and said, 'Mosley went right after Martin.' When we got down to two, it was those three. Donald was No. 1 and it worked out for us.”
As for a possible trade with the No. 2 pick, Snead said nothing ever got too serious though Buffalo, which eventually traded up to No. 4 from No. 9, did inquire.
"They were probably the one team that was the most motivated," Snead said.