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Aaron Kromer on the Rams' rookie offensive line acquisitions

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  • Aaron Kromer on the Rams' rookie offensive line acquisitions

    By: Andrew Ortenberg | 2 hours ago

    When the dust settled after the NFL Draft and Les Snead was finally done wheeling and dealing, the Los Angeles Rams had made 11 picks. Three of them were offensive linemen, and while it’s tough to judge linemen without pads on during offseason work, offensive line coach Aaron Kromer is encouraged by their progress so far.

    First was tackle Joseph Noteboom at 89th overall in the third round. Then came center Brian Allen in the fourth, 111th overall. Next came small-school standout tackle Jamil Demby out of Maine in the sixth (192nd overall). Although the Rams return all five starters from last year’s line, the current group might not stick together much longer. All-Pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth is 36, while Rob Havenstein, Jamon Brown and Rodger Saffold are all heading into the last year of their contracts. It makes sense that the Rams wanted to address both tackle and interior line in the draft, and the trio could turn out to be the future protectors of Jared Goff.

    Now that the Rams have gotten their initial look at this freshman class through rookie minicamp, OTAs, and regular minicamp, Kromer had some initial thoughts on the three new players and their transition to the NFL during a recent interview with the Rams' website Kromer said the trio has done “a great job of learning, understanding why things are happening, and trying to master those techniques.”

    Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    Kromer was signed away from the Bills by coach Sean McVay, who added him as part of his initial Rams staff. After offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur left for the Titans, Kromer was promoted to run game coordinator this past January. Kromer was widely credited with helping the Rams offensive line go from one of the worst in the league to one of the best in just one year. He certainly knows the position well, having coached lines in the NFL since 2001, and likely had some sway in the Rams’ war room on draft day.

    Kromer hammered home that the rookies are strictly focused on learning and not actually doing at this point, saying “everything we do is schematics, technique” before the pads come on later this summer. He added that it’s hard to accurately evaluate linemen “until after training camp, during training camp, and during the preseason games when everything really starts happening fast.”

    Until then, it’ll be hard to tell what the Rams have in their three new draft picks. But Kromer seemed genuinely excited and bullish about the group’s future during his recent media availability. In an ideal world, none of them will see much playing time this year, but all three could potentially be key contributors down the line.

    I'd imagine these three will see plenty of playing time during the preseason. Maybe we get lucky and find a legit starter or two out this group. Tis the season of hope.!

  • #2
    Although the Rams return all five starters from last year’s line, the current group might not stick together much longer. All-Pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth is 36, while Rob Havenstein, Jamon Brown and Rodger Saffold are all heading into the last year of their contracts. It makes sense that the Rams wanted to address both tackle and interior line in the draft, and the trio could turn out to be the future protectors of Jared Goff.
    It's easy to forget that these guys are all in contract years as well, with so much of our focus on Donald, Joyner, Cooks, etc.

    Whitworth is signed for another season, though the Rams could free up $10 million by cutting him after 2018. If Whitworth is gone after this season for whatever reason, it would be nice to have Saffold - a veteran, experienced presence - at left guard next to (I presume) Noteboom.

    Personally, I think Brown is probably the most replaceable out of all three of them, and quite frankly I don't think any of them have been so outstanding that they'll command huge deals as free agents. But all three have been solid to good starters on a revamped, efficient unit, so it would be tough to lose two or all of them.

    It's one more thing to add to the "To Do" list of extension discussions that need to happen.


    Related Topics


    • Nick
      Noteboom, Allen poised to step up after departures of Saffold, Sullivan
      by Nick
      Noteboom, Allen poised to step up after departures of Saffold, Sullivan
      hursday, Mar 14, 2019 03:40 PM
      Myles Simmons

      With former Rams left guard Rodger Saffold signing with the Titans on Thursday, there are officially two positions to fill on Los Angeles’ starting offensive line.

      Saffold in particular is a significant void, as he’s been a part of the Rams’ five up front since he was the No. 33 overall pick in the 2010 draft. The other is center, as Los Angeles declined to pick up John Sullivan's option for 2019.

      But change is a constant in the NFL, and Los Angeles is prepared to go into the offseason program with what would be two first-year starters in Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen.

      Noteboom and Allen were the Rams’ first two draft picks last year, starting in the third round. And with a season of practices under their belts — both were able to get in reps with the first-team offense when left tackle Andrew Whitworth and Sullivan received their veteran rest days — Noteboom and Allen should be ready to step up and excel.

      “Here’s what we did last year in drafting Noteboom and Brian Allen — we did have a projection that at some point we’d have to groom them to become starters,” general manager Les Snead said this week. “The thing you hear about Joe is that he’s versatile, he could then fill in for Rodger. And then at the end of the day, you are still grooming him to maybe be a Whitworth replacement or heir apparent in time, but you still need to replenish that, right? So we will look around, let’s say, in the veteran market and scrutinize the draft like we did last year. Because then the goal would be to draft a younger player, let them develop, evolve for a year, and when their time comes [they can become starters].”

      The Rams drafted Noteboom with the intention of him becoming the Rams’ next left tackle. But he does have the versatility to play inside on the offensive line at guard. Last year, for instance, run game coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer had Noteboom cross-training at guard during the offseason program and training camp. Now he should have the experience necessary to potentially start at left guard in 2019, with Allen stepping in at center to replace John Sullivan.

      “I think when you do draft those two players, it is eventually with the anticipation that they can become and ascend into a starting role,” head coach Sean McVay said this week. “What you do feel good about is the way that we practice — specific to that left side of our line — Brian and Joe have gotten a lot of valuable reps, even though it might be in practice, that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise because they are playing behind veteran players. I think seeing the way those guys practice, but then also them getting a lot more reps because of the way that we did it with John, with Rodger, and with Andrew, has enabled them to get a lot of...
      -03-17-2019, 07:44 AM
    • MauiRam
      Andrew Whitworth a big, big addition to Rams' revamped offensive line.
      by MauiRam
      By Lindsey Thiry

      One by one, each child climbed aboard, and Andrew Whitworthkept walking.

      Coaches and staff members turned to watch as Whitworth, a 6-foot-7, 333-pound behemoth of a man, carried his four young kids across the field at UC Irvine after a two-hour practice.

      The Rams’ new left tackle never broke stride.

      Whitworth is an imposing figure with a massive athletic frame and a large bald head. It’s easy to see how his kids play on him like a jungle gym … and why friends make a habit of walking behind him to watch curious onlookers stare.
      The Rams made Whitworth, 35, a top priority in free agency and signed the three-time Pro Bowl selection to a three-year, $36-million contract, with $15-million guaranteed.

      “He’s been exactly what we thought and more,” coach Sean McVay said after a week of training camp, adding, “He’s playing at an extremely high level.”

      Whitworth, a 12-year pro, has the experience to protect quarterback Jared Goff, the top pick in the 2016 draft.

      Offensive line coach Aaron Kromer said Whitworth was “like a coach on the field” and provided a steady presence.
      “At the right time he will say something in the huddle to keep us going or to calm us down,” Kromer said. “He’s really good for all the youth on the offense.”

      Offensive lineman Jamon Brown, a third-year pro, agreed.

      “Since he’s gotten here and stepped in he’s been a huge help to kind of the development for all the young guys like myself,” Brown said.

      Last season, the Rams’ offensive line struggled as the team stumbled to a 4-12 finish. Goff played under duress throughout most of his seven starts, and running back Todd Gurley was often hit in the backfield.

      A new venture, Whitworth said, was what attracted him to the Rams after protecting quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton and making six playoff appearances in 11 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.

      “The opportunity to really do something that I thought was a challenge and to do something that I thought I could look back on my career and say, ‘You know what, I’m glad I accepted that challenge and I didn’t just take the easy route,’” Whitworth said, “To me it was that opportunity that really was intriguing.”

      Whitworth joined a group that included Brown, third-year pro Rob Havenstein and seven-year veteran Rodger Saffold, and other young players. The Rams also signed veteran center John Sullivan, who played for McVay with the Washington Redskins last season.

      Kromer, the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line coach the last two seasons, said the addition of Whitworth and Sullivan would help the line improve.

      “Our biggest thing is how can we get five guys to play as a group,” Kromer said.

      Last Saturday, in a no-tackling practice with the Chargers at StubHub Center, Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram got to...
      -08-09-2017, 11:01 AM
    • MauiRam
      Strauss: Rams' O-line coach faces huge task ..
      by MauiRam
      By Joe Strauss

      Paul Boudreau’s task is as straightforward as it is ambitious: He has to sculpt several 300-pound blocks of clay into an offensive line that likely will determine if the fourth version of head coach Jeff Fisher’s offense is more acceptable than the tedious first three.

      Boudreau, 64, is a football lifer on his second go-round as Rams offensive line coach.

      If a coach can ask it of his linemen, Boudreau has at some point made the request and helped show the way. His lines have helped escort five 10,000-yard rushers while one of his units in New Orleans surrendered a mere 15 sacks in 1992, two fewer than his Atlanta Falcons O-line surrendered in 2008. The stand in Atlanta occurred the season after Boudreau was dismissed over guilt by association with the Scott Linehan regime.

      Now in the fourth year of a second term with the Rams, Boudreau is attempting to construct a line from candidates owning just 103 NFL starts. Sixty belong to left guard Rodger Saffold. Only four linemen in camp have ever started a game in the league. One incumbent, left tackle Greg Robinson, is barely 13 months removed from being selected No. 2 overall in the draft. A three-man competition exists at center. Rookies are a virtual lock to start at right guard and right tackle.

      The Rams call the last couple weeks at Earth City “organized team activities,” or OTA’s. Given the experience level, Boudreau is leading Romper Room.

      Even for an old coach, this is a new trick.

      “If you look across my board, I’ve had Rodger one year without being injured. Greg started the last 12 games. That’s it. I haven’t gone through that before. But I have all the confidence in these guys. There might be a step backward to go forward but I think we’ll be OK in the long run,” said Boudreau, who will be replacing center Scott Wells, right guard Davin Joseph and right tackle Joe Barksdale. A de facto retiree, left tackle Jake Long was a casualty last season of a repeat ACL tear. “Look at the second half of the season after they play Seattle twice and Arizona twice. Then you’ll see how their growth is. Every day is going to be new for them.”

      The Rams addressed the turnover by grabbing three offensive lineman within the draft’s first 150 picks for the first time since taking Alex Barron, Richie Incognito and Claude Terrell in 2007. This time Wisconsin tackle Rob Havenstein, Louisville guard Jamon Brown and Iowa tackle Andrew Donnal came off the board before pick No. 120. Havenstein (No. 57 overall) and Brown (No. 72) project as starters. The Rams didn’t stop drafting linemen until they chose Fresno State guard Cody Wichmann in the sixth round.

      “All of them are fairly smart. All of them are pretty tough. That’s a good beginning,” Boudreau noted. “There’s a lot going on. There’s a new offense, new terminology, the speed of the game, not just understanding what your...
      -06-14-2015, 02:06 AM
    • MauiRam
      Rookie Joseph Noteboom could be the backup plan Rams desperately need
      by MauiRam
      NewRookie Joseph Noteboom could be the backup plan Rams desperately need

      By Vincent Bonsignore

      LOS ANGELES — By the time the ice hockey career of Joseph Noteboom topped out in the 11th grade, he was pushing 6-foot-5 and well over 250 pounds. He was a big, fast, tough defenseman whose skating skills defied his imposing frame. The job description was pretty simple: Go find the guy with the puck and crush him.

      Noteboom had a particular knack for spotting unsuspecting puck carriers along the boards and then hurling himself at them with all his size, strength and might. Pity the poor opposing player and plexiglass when he timed everything up just right. Which was often.

      “Oh yeah, for sure. I was a big guy so that was my job,” said Noteboom, his devilish grin about as chilling as you’d imagine.

      About the only thing more absurd than imagining a kid that big flying around an ice hockey rink was the location. When you think hockey, Plano, Texas doesn’t exactly come to mind. But then, who would have thought a town in the middle of Texas would catch the hockey bug like Plano did in the 2000s? But that’s exactly what happened deep in the heart of football country.

      Before you knew it, nearly every kid in the region wanted to be Sidney Crosby.

      Or in Noteboom’s case, Drew Doughty.

      “In my area (hockey is) really big,” Noteboom said. “There were at least five ice rinks within 10 miles.”

      The pull of football and a prolonged growth spurt meant hanging up the hockey skates for good. That decision more than six years ago was as easy as it was wise, and it has led him to Los Angeles, where he’s a rookie offensive linemen with the Rams.

      Now 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, Noteboom delivered a crisp, efficient performance in a 19-15 preseason win over the Oakland Raiders on Saturday that, coupled with a strong training camp, gives the Rams hope they shrewdly uncovered a starting-caliber NFL lineman in the third round.

      Somehow a man as big as Noteboom went missing from the NFL’s draft radar last April over the first 88 picks, allowing the TCU standout to fall right to the very fortunate Rams at pick No. 89. They went into the draft needing to add youth and depth to a position that was top heavy and extraordinarily lucky last year. They left it with Noteboom, Maine tackle Jamil Demby and Michigan State centre Brian Allen.
      All three have played well enough to at least allow the Rams to ponder the possibility that they secured three potential future starters.

      That’s no small feat considering left tackle Andrew Whitworth is pushing 37, center John Sullivan is 33 and right tackle Rob Havenstein, left guard Rodger Saffold and right guard Jamon Brown are all free agents at the end of the season.

      The likelihood the Rams go through another season like 2016 essentially unscathed along the offensive line — they needed
      -08-21-2018, 10:59 AM
    • MoonJoe
      Rams’ offensive line begins to take shape
      by MoonJoe
      Brandon Fowler
      Yahoo Sports
      April 7th

      A casual viewer of the 2016 Los Angeles Rams’ football team knew that their offensive line needed to be revamped, in order for the offense to find success and maintain drives to support a defense that was on the field for the majority of games. Without question, the offensive line was not the sole issue in Los Angeles, but the Rams have addressed some needs up front this offseason that could prove beneficial.

      For most of last season, the Rams lined up with left tackle, Greg Robinson, left guard, Rodger Saffold, center, Tim Barnes, the rotation of Jamon Brown and Cody Wichmann at right guard and right tackle, Rob Havenstein, with an average age of 25-years-old and not much experience among them.

      Unfortunately, as a Rams’ fan must know, Robinson has been more of a liability, racking up numerous false start and holding penalties, than showing the potential that had him drafted in the first-round of 2014. For the first time, he was also designated as an inactive player for two games last season. In college, Robinson played in Auburn’s power run scheme and with the Rams there seemed to be an unwillingness to move him inside to guard, like Miami did with rookie Laremy Tunsil. With the signing of left tackle, Andrew Whitworth, there will be no question of a position change for Robinson in 2017.

      Havenstein was a productive rookie starter, who was drafted in the second-round of the 2015 draft out of Wisconsin. Towards the end of his inaugural season, injuries caught up with him and he was forced to miss a chunk of this past offseason and preseason. As a result, Havenstein’s 2016 campaign suffered and he did not exhibit the same dominance he did during his rookie year. A full offseason without injuries should be big for him going forward.

      Barnes was released this offseason and left the Rams with a hole to fill in the middle of their line. Barnes was a serviceable starter who played above his status as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He will fondly be remembered as the hustler who recovered two fumbles on the same drive during the late stages a rainy game in Seattle, two seasons ago to help put the Rams over the top. There were rumors that Barnes would be brought back to the team in free agency, but it was reported yesterday that the Rams had signed former Vikings and Redskins’ center, John Sullivan. Sullivan will fill the need at center and provide knowledge of Sean McVay’s system. He, along with Whitworth, should be an asset in the film room for the other young Rams.

      Saffold has been a Rams’ mainstay since 2010 and has always been one of their more dominant linemen. He has also been the swingman along the line, showing both value and competence to play the tackle and guard positions. The issue with Saffold has always been his health and inability to remain on the field for the duration of 16 games. Injuries...
      -04-07-2017, 09:28 AM