Why the Rams might regret passing on offensive linemen in 2021 NFL draft

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Cameron DaSilva
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Everyone and their mother expected the Los Angeles Rams to draft at least one offensive lineman this year after losing Austin Blythe in free agency. But as they often do, Les Snead and Sean McVay went against the grain, drafting four offensive skill players but not a single lineman.

A good portion of fans were both outraged and surprised by the Rams’ decision to once again adding significant resources to the offensive line for the second straight year, with Tremayne Anchrum being the only lineman they’ve selected in the last two drafts.

McVay and Snead explained their logic after the draft wrapped up, pointing to the depth the Rams have thanks to the linemen they’ve drafted recently – players such as Joe Noteboom, Bobby Evans, David Edwards and Anchrum.

“I mean, we’ve got 11 guys who’ve played games that we won,” Snead said. “That’s probably as deep a group that’s played as I’ve ever been a part of. So, give those guys credit and they’ve done a heck of a job. As Sean said, that unfortunate at times that we’ve had a lot of guys get a chance to play and they’ve grown together and they’re jelling together and like Sean said, in the draft, there’s times you’re looking at OL, maybe if you’re 15 spots away, but someone takes one. So, that’s just how the draft goes. But we did know this going into this draft, right? If we did take an OL, it would really be, I would say maybe a redshirt year. It’d be hard for an offensive lineman to be one of our eight (game day OL) no matter how good you were coming into this group.”

It’s not hard to understand their logic and understand where the Rams are coming from. But at the same time, they could come to regret the decision not to add any linemen this year. And it’s not necessarily just because they don’t have a clear-cut starter at center for the coming season.

Brian Allen struggled there in 2019 and Austin Corbett failed with the Browns because of his inconsistency at center. McVay is confident in both players, but they’re still not the best options.

And next offseason, Andrew Whitworth could retire. Noteboom and Corbett will both be free agents in 2022, as well. So too will Brian Allen, who’s a candidate to start at center this season.

It’s entirely possible the Rams could lose three starters on the offensive line next year. Re-signing Noteboom shouldn’t be that difficult, but Corbett could command a bigger contract if he has another strong season.

The Rams do have Evans, Edwards, Havenstein and Anchrum under contract beyond 2021, but there could be holes at left tackle, center and right guard to fill next offseason. Adding a player such as Creed Humphrey, Kendrick Green or Josh Myers in the second round would’ve solidified the interior of the offensive line further, thus preventing even greater turnover next offseason.

Say Whitworth retires and Corbett, Noteboom and Allen leave as free agents. The Rams’ offensive line could look like this in 2022, which is obviously far out.

LT: Bobby Evans

LG: David Edwards

C: Coleman Shelton

RG: Bobby Evans/Tremayne Anchrum

RT: Rob Havenstein

Compare that to the projected starting line this year, and only Edwards and Havenstein would be carryovers from 2021.

The Rams have good depth up front heading into this season, but that depth could quickly be depleted in a year. And no one truly knows who will be the team’s starting center this season. It could be Allen, it could be Corbett, or it could be Shelton.

I know Snead said any draft pick likely would’ve been a redshirt, but Humphrey and Myers both had the makings of a Day 1 starter. They would’ve helped the team more than Atwell probably will this season.