The Rams have signed rookie Isaiah Battle to his rookie deal, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Rams selected the Clemson offensive tackle in July’s supplemental draft.
The Rams used a fifth-round supplemental pick on Battle, which means that they will give up their 2016 fifth-round pick. The team made the young lineman the first player selected in a supplemental draft since the Browns used a second-round pick on wide receiver Josh Gordon back in 2012.
Battle, who had been penciled in as Clemson’s starting left tackle for the coming season, decided to enter the supplemental draft instead, citing “family” reasons, including a child due this summer. Earlier in the year, Mike Huguenin of NFL.com had identified Battle as a candidate to play in next year’s Senior Bowl, writing that the Clemson lineman “remains somewhat raw, [but] is a good athlete who plays with some nastiness.”
Of the seven prospects eligible for the supplemental draft, Battle was considered the one most likely to be picked, with some pundits suggesting that a team could go as high as a third-rounder for the lineman. However, teams were reportedly wary of Battle due to possible off-the-field concerns, so he ultimately cost the Rams only a fifth-rounder. As it turns out, Battle was the only player taken in this year’s supplemental draft.
The offensive line was viewed as one area the Rams figured to address this offseason, and while they were perhaps not as active on the free agent market as expected, the club has added several young players to its group up front. Battle represents the fifth offensive lineman St. Louis has picked in a draft this year — the Rams were the only one team in the NFL to add as many as four offensive lineman during back in May, selecting one in the second round (Rob Havenstein), third round (Jamon Brown), fourth round (Andrew Donnal), and sixth round (Cody Wichmann).
Last year’s No. 2 overall pick, Greg Robinson, projects as the Rams’ long-term left tackle, but Battle figures to provide depth on both the left and right sides, and could challenge the team’s other young players, including Havenstein, for playing time at the right tackle spot.