Rodger Saffold emerges from the shadows

Apparently winning RamsHerd’s first annual “Most Necessary Rookie Performance” award didn’t exactly mean that Rodger Saffold would start getting the star treatment. According to a nicely revealing feature in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Saffold is still plenty comfortable blending into the shadows.

In a recent appearance at his alma mater in Bedford, Saffold wore a plain, unadorned, gray sweatsuit. A St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap. Nothing flashy. That’s it. If he hadn’t towered over the high school students who came to listen to him speak and to see what an NFL player looks like, he would have never drawn anyone’s attention.

That’s the way it’s always been for Saffold — no one’s ever really noticed how good the offensive tackle is. Until now.

— Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Out of the shadows, Bedford’s Rodger Saffold earns All-Rookie notice with St. Louis Rams

The full article is a nice read on a player that is part of a wave of new NFC tackles — including Seattle’s Russell Okung, both of whom were pegged by ESPN’s Mike Sando as potential Pro Bowlers for years to come.

What’s really exciting for Rams fans to consider is if Saffold can take as big a leap forward in his second year with the team, working with offensive line guru Steve Loney, as his linemate Jason Smith did.

While some may be disappinted that Smith (a #2 overall pick) is still ensconced at right tackle, Loney and the Rams believe simply in putting the player in the best position to succeed, draft position be damned. For Smith, he was able to use his quick feet and powerful base more effectively on the right side, particularly as a run blocker, and in his second season started to show flashes of excellence, and enough game-to-game consistency to escape 2009’s rotation with Adam Goldberg, and earn full-time playing status out of the gate.  

If Saffold shows the same quantum leap in performance — particularly in his ability to seal off the interior gap — from year one to year two, he could enter the Pro Bowl conversation a lot quicker than anyone anticipated.