NFL draft: Rams picked new starting offensive lineman because he’s Badger of honor
Brian Hill, who scouts Midwest college players for the Rams, this week told the team’s coaching staff that he would jump in the pool at their Hollywood Hills draft house if they selected Wisconsin offensive lineman Logan Bruss in the third round with pick No. 104.
After the Super Bowl-champion Rams chose Bruss on Friday night, Hill kept his word and leaped into the deep end, coaches and fellow scouts cheering him on.
“I’m glad I could make that happen,” Bruss said during a videoconference with reporters.
The 6-foot-5, 308-pound Bruss joins a Rams line that includes right tackle Rob Havenstein and left guard David Edwards, both of whom played at Wisconsin.
Bruss mainly played right tackle for the Badgers, but he will compete to start at right guard, a huge need for the Rams in the wake of Austin Corbett’s departure in signing a free-agent contract with the Carolina Panthers.
Only one quarterback was taken in Round 1 of the NFL draft, and none in the second round, before three finally were selected in Round 3.
“It’s always a little easier evaluation when you get these Wisconsin linemen because there’s so many nuances to what they do in the run game, protections,” Rams coach Sean McVay said.
“Obviously, with the background of Rob and Dave, you feel really comfortable with that, and then when you talk to those guys about him, they can’t say enough good things about him. ... He’s our kind of guy. He’s going to come in and immediately compete to start at right guard.”
Without a first- or second-round pick, the Rams waited nearly two full days to make their first pick.
As perhaps an omen of what was coming, recently retired offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth made an appearance at the draft house Friday.
General manager Les Snead said he fielded a few calls from teams looking to possibly make a trade that would allow them to move up to the Rams’ spot.
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“But he was starred,” Snead said of Bruss’ spot on the Rams’ draft board. “He got one of the gold stars of, ‘Hey, we take this player at 104.’ ”
Bruss said he trained in Southern California in preparation for the NFL scouting combine and that he loved the area.
“This was a place I was kind of dreaming of coming to play,” he said.
Especially with Havenstein and Edwards already in place. Edwards was “one of the older guys who showed me the way” at Wisconsin, Bruss said. The two former Badgers told Bruss they loved being part of the Rams.
“It was something they said might happen, and for it to happen is obviously crazy and I’m really excited about it,” Bruss said.
After addressing the offensive line in Round 1 of the NFL draft, the Chargers switched to the defense in Round 3 by picking speedy Baylor safety JT Woods.
Bruss said he was capable of competing for a starting role but would do whatever coaches and the organization ask of him. He said the culture and environment at Wisconsin breed successful NFL linemen.
“Success is built more through hard work and dedication and discipline, compared to talent,” he said, adding, “Dedication to craft and make myself a little bit better each and every day. Those things kind of teach you how to carry yourself when you’re in a professional setting.”
The Rams are banking on Bruss being another contributor who was drafted in the third round during the McVay era.
Star receiver Cooper Kupp, running back Darrell Henderson, offensive linemen Joe Noteboom and Bobby Evans, linebackers Ernest Jones and Terrell Lewis, cornerback David Long and safety Terrell Burgess also were third-round picks.
The Rams have seven picks remaining. One in the fourth round (No. 142), one in the fifth (No. 175), three in the sixth (Nos. 211, 212 and 218) and two in the seventh (Nos. 238 and 253).
Snead said the Rams’ interest in offensive linemen should have been obvious Thursday night when McVay made a comment poking fun at Snead after the New England Patriots selected Chattanooga’s Cole Strange in the first round with the 29th pick.
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“How about that,” McVay quipped. “And we wasted our time watching him thinking he’d be at 104, maybe.”
The comment caused a stir on social media as a perceived slight against Strange.
McVay made the remark “in jest, at myself,” Snead said.
Snead said McVay spoke Friday with Strange and Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
“I was actually giving Les a hard time ... because when we both started watching him, I think we were both in agreement there’s no way he’d be there [at No. 104] because we liked the player so much,” McVay said Friday.
“If there’s anybody that has more respect for coach Belichick, what he’s done, than I do, I’d like to see him because I have tremendous respect for this profession, for the players that play at this level, and I would never want it to get misunderstood for Cole Strange or the Patriots organization.
“Anything but respect for the player. If that was my reaction and any misunderstanding was my fault for the way that I probably communicated that.”
LOGAN BRUSS, offensive lineman
6 feet 5, 308 pounds, Wisconsin, Round 3, Pick 104
Notable: Bruss played at Wisconsin, which produced Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein and left guard David Edwards.
Last season: Bruss played a lot at right tackle but also has experience at guard.
Why the Rams drafted him: With the departure of Austin Corbett to the Carolina Panthers, the Rams are in need of a starting right guard. Havenstein and Edwards both played as rookies and the Rams are counting on Bruss to be another “player” from the Wisconsin program.
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