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Rams draft signals confidence in O-Line

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  • Rams draft signals confidence in O-Line

    Rams draft signals confidence in O-Line
    Saturday, May 09, 2020 04:00 PM
    J.B. Long

    Survey a group of Rams fans about which position group was most culpable for the 2019 team missing the postseason and the results would be nearly unanimous.

    Offensive line.

    After enjoying an improbable run of health and continuity in recent seasons, last year saw a regression to the mean, and with it, some mean regression.

    As documented in a previous discussion, nine Rams started along the offensive front in the first 11 weeks, including six who were making their first or second NFL start.

    Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen struggled to replace Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan before suffering season-ending injuries.

    Right tackle Rob Havenstein was earning a career-low Pro Football Focus grade before a Week 10 injury in Pittsburgh also ended his campaign.

    So understandably, even with total personnel retention, the line was considered an area of need going into the NFL Draft.

    Instead, the Rams doubled-down on a group that stabilized in December, but in aggregate rated among the NFL's worst in 2019.

    They didn't choose an offensive lineman until their final pick (guard Tremayne Anchrum at 250 overall) or acquire help through trade or free agency, signaling a readiness to run it back with their existing talent, banking on internal development.

    "Last year was beneficial for us, in spite of having some of the injuries and shuffling things around," Sean McVay said. "You got a chance to really evaluate a lot of guys playing in real games that count and you can see that there's a lot of upside."

    It will be at least a year – likely two or three – before we can truly evaluate the merits of this approach, and the results will depend on a number of factors. Most notably, can this group of Rams realize that upside McVay referenced, both individually and collectively?

    But also, do players like Ezra Cleveland (58th pick, Minnesota) or Josh Jones (72nd pick, Arizona) turn into All-Pro tackles? Or similarly, do several of the interior linemen selected in a Day Two stretch where the Rams had four selections outperform L.A.'s existing options?

    In the present, you can understand how general manager Les Snead, offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, and McVay might prefer what they have in house. And it's not as if they haven't spent comparable draft capital in recent years on this position group.

    2018: Joe Noteboom (3rd round), Brian Allen (4th), Jamil Demby (6th)

    2019: Bobby Evans (3rd), David Edwards (5th)

    They also traded in a 2021 fifth-round pick to acquire Austin Corbett from the Browns last season.

    "You look at Austin," McVay says of the 33rd overall selection from two years ago. "You say, alright, what does it look like if you give him an opportunity to have a training camp and some guidance under Coach Kromer's tutelage."

    After solidifying the group late last season by sliding from right guard to center, Austin Blythe agreed to a one-year offer and McVay expects him to maintain control of that position going into 2020.

    "I think he did a really nice job stepping in (at center)," the head coach said on the Rams Revealed podcast. "His ability to confidently get out the calls, there was a very similar feel to things that you loved so much about John Sullivan."

    David Edwards bounced from left guard to right, where he's now the incumbent in 2020 after breaking in with 10 starts to finish his rookie season.

    In all likelihood, that leaves Noteboom and Corbett to battle for left guard and Evans and Havenstein to settle the starting right tackle job.

    Whoever comes up empty in those battles will join Allen in providing valuable depth, which is all the more meaningful under the new CBA rules allowing for 55-man rosters and 48 dressed on game day, with a requirement for one additional active offensive lineman compared to prior years.

    Rounding out the projected starters, at left tackle, 38-year old Andrew Whitworth postponed retirement with a new three-year contract. He, too, saw the Friday night selections at running back, receiver, edge rusher, and safety as affirmation that the Rams already have the right offensive linemen in the facility.

    "I really think it is a vote of confidence in that we see there's a bunch of guys in our room that have an opportunity to help us," Whitworth said during the Draft. "It's going to be really the best scenario you can possibly have in this business is you have a whole bunch of guys for very few positions. And hopefully these guys will fight and compete, and we'll get the best five on the field."

    There's one more nuance specific to our current global predicament that I think is relevant to the choice the Rams made: Is this the time to be teaching a rookie lineman McVay's playbook, via Zoom and tablets? With a compromised off-season program (and potentially training camp), how legitimate were the hopes of landing a plug-and-play starter?

    Drafting from outside the Top 50, that would have been a risky proposition with limited potential to find an upgrade over the options previously discussed, at least in the near-term.

  • #2
    Time will tell if these guys have truly improved or the Rams faith in them was misplaced. I'm currently of the belief the Rams should have addressed the O-line much earlier.


    • #3
      i think what it signifies is a me not we attitude to placate a coach who feels entitled toward offensive skill position bias.

      look at our free agent signings... and that should sum it up.

      based on the performance not only of last year, but prior years why would they feel comfortable.

      in fact the decision to draft Akers may have also been due to the scouting data that adamantly stated he was productive


      snead has proven he is a terrible talent evaluator of o lineman.

      lets not let 2017 and 2018 erase the fact that snead was horrific for this franchise as evidenced by his win loss record prior to 2017.
      Last edited by punahou; 1 week ago.


      • #4
        oh and as far as trading up for certain linemen we have, lets also not forget how this 2020 draft sends a loud and clear message

        that they have zero confidence in a rb they

        - traded draft capital away for in order to move up to take.

        and contrary to what someone posted previously about their plan for a change of pace back to contrast Gurley.....

        that is simply false.

        you dont take a high draft pick that you gave up capital for to play 'sometimes and sparingly'

        they just sneaded again, ah choo!


        • #5
          The Rams better be right in their confidence. The OL will be a huge part of any success or failure the team has in 2020, if there is a 2020.


          • #6
            Our own OL must have been intrigued / surprised the 2020 1st or 2nd pick did not add to their group. Probably wondering the same as we are, even as actual pros and team members.

            In TEAM we trust. [Right?]


            • #7
              We had quite a few spots to fill in this draft and the team likely felt there the current group deserves a chance to gel in camp (hopefully there will be one). Given our need to help Goff with less pressure and a solid running game one could argue having more options would be preferable. With 9 total picks that becomes a challenge.

              If the last 2 year's draft wasn't adequate where we added 4 new players (2/draft) plus those added mid-season last year, I am not seeing what selecting more players this draft was going to ensure for us.


              • #8
                I think it's more a case of prioritizing the holes the team had going in the draft vs. the numbers of picks the Ram had available. For instance, if the Rams had a 1st round pick do they still take a running with their 1st pick? Probably not.


                • #9
                  I think the o line settled down in second half of last year. Goff was sacked the least of any starting QB and had the highest level of attempts. The run game was hampered by Gurley lack of past explosiveness. Holes only stay open so long. Corbett was good add.


                  • #10
                    Time will tell, but I still do not see the future starting LT on this team. All of the other holes can be accounted for, but this hole is key.


                    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
                      RAMS INSIDER

                      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
                    • Nick
                      Rams enter NFL draft seeking successor to left tackle Andrew Whitworth
                      by Nick
                      Rams enter NFL draft seeking successor to left tackle Andrew Whitworth
                      By GARY KLEIN
                      STAFF WRITER
                      APRIL 15, 20205:36 PM

                      As the Rams prepare for the NFL draft, The Times will examine their roster. Part 7 of 10: Offensive line.

                      As they let a parade of defensive players exit via free agency, and cut star running back Todd Gurley, the Rams made their priorities clear by re-signing offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth and versatile offensive lineman Austin Blythe.

                      “I was really excited to get those guys back, and I think I feel so comfortable with both of them,” quarterback Jared Goff said Wednesday during a video conference with reporters. “Getting those two guys back for my confidence, and just feeling good in the pocket is good.”

                      The Rams are attempting to rebound from a disappointing 9-7 season that resulted in missing the playoffs for the first time under coach Sean McVay.

                      After two seasons of rare continuity, the Rams offensive line in 2019 was patchwork because of injuries. Left guard Joe Noteboom and center Brian Allen suffered season-ending knee injuries. Right tackle Rob Havenstein also was sidelined for the final seven games because of injuries.

                      Blythe moved from right guard to center, and rookies David Edwards and Bobby Evans took advantage of opportunities to become starters. Austin Corbett, acquired in midseason trade with the Cleveland Browns, also stepped in and became a starter at left guard.

                      Who will play where during the upcoming season is to be determined, but the overarching question for the Rams’ line is the same as it was in 2019: Who will eventually succeed Whitworth? The 14-year veteran signed a three-year contract but is regarded as year-to year.

                      “You do take it a year at a time,” McVay said recently.

                      Noteboom was regarded as Whitworth’s heir apparent after the Rams drafted him in the third round in 2018. The knee injury stifled Noteboom’s progress, however, and there are still questions about whether he can effectively play such an important position.

                      Evans, a third-round pick in 2019, played right and left tackle in college at Oklahoma.

                      The Rams do not have a first-round pick in the April 23-25 draft. They have two picks in the second round, two in the third, and one each in the fourth, sixth and seventh rounds.

                      General manager Les Snead said “the plan was set” when the Rams drafted Noteboom. But plans can change.

                      Who is under contract: Havenstein ($7.8 million), Whitworth ($6.7 million), Blythe ($3.9 million), Corbett ($1.2 million), Noteboom ($955,000), Allen ($922,000), Evans ($881,000), Jamil Demby ($750,000), Edwards ($741,000), Chandler Brewer ($675,000), Coleman Shelton ($675,000), Nate Trewyn ($675,000), Jeremiah Kolone ($610,000).

                      Free agents: Last season,...
                      -04-19-2020, 01:56 PM
                    • MauiRam
                      Aaron Kromer on the Rams' rookie offensive line acquisitions
                      by MauiRam

                      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.!...
                      -06-23-2018, 04:28 PM
                    • MauiRam
                      Rams need Andrew Whitworth to anchor new-look offensive line
                      by MauiRam
                      March 10, 2017

                      Updated 7:46 p.m. Rams coach Sean McVay answers questions during a news conference at the Rams' NFL training facility in Thousand Oaks on Friday, March 10, 2017, about the addition of free agents wide receiver Robert Woods and left tackle Andrew Whitworth. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

                      THOUSAND OAKS – The Rams’ offensive line seemed to be in constant flux last season, and not in a positive way. Coach Sean McVay hopes that further changes in March will create stability in the fall.

                      The Rams likely will have three new starters along the offensive line, if not four, when next season begins. The leader of that group, not only emotionally but in terms of skill, figures to be left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who officially joined the Rams as a free agent Friday when he signed his contract.

                      “I think he will be a great example for some of the young, up-and-coming linemen,” Rams coach Sean McVay said of Whitworth on Friday at the team’s practice facility, “with what he can bring in the meeting room and on the grass. He’s a pro’s pro.”

                      Whitworth, 35, is a 10-year NFL veteran and a three-time Pro Bowl selection. The Rams gave him a hefty three-year, $36 million contract and expect him to anchor an offensive line that regressed in 2016, allowed far too much quarterback pressure and opened few holes for running back Todd Gurley.

                      Greg Robinson, the former No. 2 overall pick who struggled mightily last season, now will get a chance to play right tackle, McVay said. Former right tackle Rob Havenstein could move to right guard, and the Rams must find a replacement for center Tim Barnes, whom they released Thursday.

                      Left guard Rodger Saffold could be the only returning lineman in the same position. That’s a lot of change, and McVay will lean on Whitworth, who earned the reputation, during his 11 seasons in Cincinnati, as being a respected team leader.

                      “I love challenges,” Whitworth said Friday. “I love adventures. I love to try new things. I wanted to find a place where I could make an impact.”

                      Who will play center? McVay said the Rams would begin to “cross train” some of their guards at center, but also strongly hinted that the team would make an addition through free agency or the draft.

                      As for Robinson, a career-defining move is in store. Robinson is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and needs to show that he can fit somewhere and thrive. The Rams also will consider playing Robinson at right guard but, because of his body type would like to see him move from left tackle to right.

                      “It’s certainly a challenge,” McVay said. “It’s about the comfort level in the stance. We talked to Greg yesterday and told him about our plans. He’s up for the challenge. When you’re doing drills, it’s just about getting comfortable with that right-handed stance and that muscle memory.”

                      -03-10-2017, 11:57 PM
                    • Nick
                      Free Agency Notebook: Robinson Moving to Right Side of OL
                      by Nick
                      Free Agency Notebook: Robinson Moving to Right Side of OL
                      Posted 1 hour ago
                      Myles Simmons
                      Rams Insider

                      When the Rams signed free agent left tackle Andrew Whitworth, they stabilized arguably the most important position along the offensive line. With Whitworth in tow, L.A. will now move around some of the unit’s current pieces in order to find the most effective five-man combination.

                      To that end, head coach Sean McVay said Greg Robinson — who has spent the better part of the last three seasons as the Rams’ left tackle — will be shifting over to the right to compete at tackle with 2015 second-round pick Rob Havenstein.

                      “I think that’ll be a good opportunity for Greg to go to that right side, and, we’ll see how Havenstein is able to do — if we allow him to play guard and tackle,” McVay said Friday. “We’ve got some guys on this roster that have some position [flexibility], but being able to get an Andrew Whitworth — he knows what it’s like, he’s played the game at a Pro Bowl-caliber level at that left tackle position — will give us the flexibility to put Greg on the right side and see how he does there.”

                      During the lead up to Week 17’s matchup against the Cardinals, Robinson said he had not been approached about a potential position change, and wouldn’t think much about it until he was. McVay said he spoke with Robinson on Thursday to let him know of the organization’s plans and the offensive lineman was receptive to it.

                      “Absolutely, Greg was great,” McVay said. “When you’re fortunate enough to bring Andrew Whitworth in the building, I think it’s important to let your players know where they stand and how that affects them and those guys upfront. It was important for us to communicate what the plan is.”

                      McVay acknowledged adjusting to playing on the right will likely be a challenge for Robinson, who has only played on the left for his 42 NFL starts. But it’s a change McVay and the staff are confident Robinson can make.

                      “I think it’s more just getting a comfort level of working in his stance,” McVay said. “When you’re doing some of your drills, just get comfortable playing right-footed, with that right-handed stance as opposed to that left. And I think that’s something that he’ll immediately be able to work on, just get comfortable with that muscle memory. I think that’s something, with his athleticism, we feel confident that he’ll be able to make that transition.

                      “Every day is an evaluation, so we’re looking at that,” McVay later added, “but you have to have a starting point and the starting point is we’re going to give Greg a chance to play at that right tackle spot and see where we go from there.”

                      HOW WILL L.A. ADDRESS CENTER?
                      Another spot in flux on the Rams’ offensive line is the center position, as Los Angeles released Tim Barnes last week. Barnes started all 16 games in the 2015...
                      -03-13-2017, 03:09 PM