As Arch Authority reported first on Tuesday, the St. Louis Rams will convert defensive lineman Mason Brodine to tight end for the 2014 season. This move kills two birds with one stone; first of all, it does a little bit to clear up the collection of impressive talent on the defensive line, and it gives the Rams another exciting candidate in the battle for the fourth tight end spot, which previously existed between Justice Cunningham and Alex Bayer.
The 6-foot-7, 284-pound Brodine had a great training camp and preseason in 2013, and it was somewhat surprising that he didn’t crack the final roster. He worked hard to gain weight and strength as he transitioned from defensive end to tackle, and he made some quality plays during the preseason, including a fumble recovery versus the Baltimore Ravens and a leaping block of a kick against the Green Bay Packers. Ultimately, he was victimized by the Rams’ worries that undrafted rookie defensive end Gerald Rivers, another preseason star, would be claimed on waivers if they tried to move him to the practice squad, so Brodine took the fall and spent the season on the practice squad instead.
The Rams apparently are intrigued by Cunningham, who the Indianapolis Colts selected as Mr. Irrelevant in the 2013 NFL Draft, and Bayer provides some value as a blocker and H-back, but Brodine might be the greatest asset of the three as a bottom of the roster player. His size and physicality should make him a quality blocker, which will be a great skill to have for a Rams squad that showed a further commitment to a run-first offensive attack by drafting lineman Greg Robinson and running back Tre Mason this past weekend. In addition, his exceptional athleticism, which he displayed with the blocked kick last year, should make him a valuable special teams player. Brodine will be striving to fill the role of Mike McNeill, who played in 14 games last year as a blocker and core special teamer. If he can be equal to or better than McNeill at either of those jobs, he should do just fine. With his superior size and strength, though, the expectation will be that Brodine will be an upgrade.