O-Line U continues to live up to its name.
Charging up the draft boards in the weeks leading up to this weekend, right tackle Rob Havenstein was selected by the St. Louis Rams with the 25th pick overall in the second round and the 57th overall pick.
Since 2000, 17 former Wisconsin linemen have been drafted, the most in the country, and the eigth lineman drafted since 2011.
"It’s been a lot of hard work for a lot of years,” Havenstein said. “This is a young man’s dream. For that to turn into reality, I’m speechless."
St. Louis originally held the 41st overall selection in the second round before they traded the selection to Carolina for the 57th pick in the second round. Havenstein will join former Badgers tight end Lance Kendricks in St. Louis after the former UW standout was selected by St. Louis in the second round in 2011.
The selection of Havenstein in the second round comes as of some surprise considering there were plenty of other top rated offensive tackles ranked ahead of Havenstein still on the board. But as Scout.com published leading up to the NFL draft, the Rams have been linked to Havenstein for some time, having worked him out prior to the draft.
"Of all the possibilities, this was probably the best-case scenario that I prepared for,” Havenstein said, who was the 11th offensive lineman selected in the NFL Draft.
Havenstein fits in well with what St. Louis is doing with its draft, which is boosting its rushing attack. Last year St. Louis ranked 20th as a team in rushing offense with 1,635 yards. The Rams addressed part of that issue in the first round by taking former Georgia running back Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick.
Now the Rams add some depth to their line, a big incentive considering only one of the Rams week one starters from a year ago is still on the team. And the Rams fixed that issue with a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection, a first-team All-American and a right tackle who made 41 consecutive starts over his final three seasons, not to mention appeared in 54 career games.
Havenstein was the third Big Ten offensive lineman to be selected in the draft following Iowa’s Brandon Scherff (fifth overall to Washington) and Penn State’s Donovan Smith (34th overall to Tampa Bay) selection by Tampa Bay in the second round.
Havenstein had a strong Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. but his combine numbers were not impressive. He was only able to do 16 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 5.46 seconds. He was able to improve his bench number to 20 at Wisconsin’s pro day in March.
“Everything I do, I was trying to go out and do the best I could,” said Havenstein at UW’s pro day. “If the best I could do was a certain number, that’s what it is. With everything through this process, obviously it’s with a long of different numbers and tests being thrown at you, you just go out and do the best your ability. Wherever I went to train or what I ate, it wasn’t going to get me to a 4.5 (40). My numbers are my numbers.”
On film it is clear that Havenstein is willing to get after it on each play and is capable of getting to the second level in the run game. It is the second straight year St. Louis has selected an offensive lineman within the first two rounds (Auburn tackle Greg Robinson with the second overall pick in 2014) as they continue to try and build its offensive line. Havenstein will still need to work on his pass blocking but enters a situation that could allow him some time to develop.
It is not surprising that Havenstein is a strong run blocker compared to the pass when you consider the emphasis Wisconsin puts on the run game. Havenstein was the leader on a line that set a school record last season that averaged 320.1 rushing yards per game, which ranked third nationally. The Badgers also averaged 6.91 yards per carry and 468.9 yards of offense per game, which ranked third in school history.
Not being whistled for one holding call last season, Havenstein was part of a line that gave up only 13 sacks in 14 games last season.
There has been some talk that the 6-7 Havenstein may switch to guard in the NFL, but it is likely that he will get a shot at tackle first. It is clear that the Rams will give him plenty of chances to try and make an impact on the offensive line and help improve the run game going forward.