Rams’ 23 most important players for 2023 – No. 23: OL Coleman Shelton

The Los Angeles Rams head into the 2023 season with a much different feel than in years past. Gone are the days of fielding star-studded rosters led by players such as Jalen Ramsey, Marcus Peters, Brandin Cooks and Bobby Wagner.

Now, the Rams are leaning on young, unproven players to help right the ship after a 5-12 campaign in 2022. Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford are still there, of course, but much of this season will come down to the play of lesser-known starters.

Ahead of training camp, we’re ranking the Rams’ 23 most important players for the 2023 season, beginning with an offensive lineman capable of starting at one of three different positions: Coleman Shelton.

He’s back with the Rams after signing a two-year extension and he’ll compete at both guard and center, potentially earning a starting spot at one or the other.

2022 stats (via PFF)

  • Sacks allowed: 4

  • Hits allowed: 1

  • Total pressures allowed: 11

  • Pass blocking grade: 71.3

  • Run blocking grade: 55.4

  • Overall PFF grade: 58.0

Position group

Shelton will face a lot of competition on the interior of the offensive line. He can play both guard and center, which gives him a better chance to start at either spot, but it won’t be easy for him to be named a Week 1 starter.

At center, he’ll need to beat out Brian Allen. At guard, there’s a host of players that includes Steve Avila, Logan Bruss, Tremayne Anchrum Jr. and either Joe Noteboom or Alaric Jackson – whichever one doesn’t start at left tackle.

Logic would tell us his best chance to start is at center, and the early portion of the offseason suggests that’s where he’ll be competing. Shelton has already earned first-team reps and that could continue into training camp, especially if Allen struggles.

Sean McVay said the Rams will play their five best offensive linemen, so it’s not as if Allen’s contract status will give him an edge over Shelton simply based on his higher salary. Shelton might have better than a 50-50 chance to start at center this year.

2023 outlook

Shelton played left guard, right guard and center for the Rams last year, filling in wherever he was needed. As previously mentioned, his best position is probably center, giving the Rams a different type of player in the middle of their O-line compared to Allen.

Shelton is 6-foot-4 and has much better length than the 6-foot-2 Allen, which offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur may prefer. I think the Rams have enough competition at guard that they can find a quality starting tandem without Shelton being involved, and it’s not as if they have much depth at center.

It’ll either be Allen or Shelton at center in Week 1 but right now, Shelton seems to have a slight edge given Allen’s injury history and struggles in 2022. The Rams gave Shelton a two-year deal worth up to $8.75 million this offseason, showing confidence in him starting somewhere up front.

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire