Steve Avila

OL Notes: Jets, Alt, Titans, Jones, Steelers, Shelton, Rams, Jones, Ravens, Giants, Hawks

Once the draft moves past its quarterback stage, wide receivers are expected to be the focus. This draft also features a few high-level tackle prospects that should go off the board soon after, potentially breaking up the QB-WR string that could lead off this year’s event. Arguably the top tackle available, Joe Alt, has begun his run of pre-draft visits. The Jets and Titans used “30” visits on the Notre Dame tackle this week,’s Ian Rapoport tweets. A first-team All-American in back-to-back years and the top tackle on Daniel Jeremiah’s big board (No. 8 overall), Alt should not need to wait long before his name comes off the board.

The Titans (No. 7) and Jets (No. 10) figure to be two prime suitors. The Jets are not as needy here compared to the start of free agency, having reacquired Morgan Moses via trade and signed Tyron Smith. The All-Decade blocker is among the NFL’s most injury-prone players, and with both Smith and Moses going into age-33 seasons, a tackle-in-waiting would benefit a Jets team that has encountered regular issues up front over the past several years. The Titans cut Andre Dillard and have not added a tackle, potentially making them the Alt floor. Though, the Chargers should not be entirely ruled out — now that Jim Harbaugh is running the show — of a first-round tackle investment to pair with Rashawn Slater.

Here is the latest from the O-line ranks around the league:

Rams Pursued Andrew Van Ginkel; Ernest Jones On Extension Radar

Aaron Donald‘s retirement creates major questions for a Rams team that has benefited from one of the NFL’s all-time greats for 10 years. Donald boosted the capabilities of other Rams pass rushers, with Kobie Turner and Byron Young the latest beneficiaries.

In addition to its unfillable hole in the Donald spot, the Rams could still use help in the pass-rushing department. The team was in on hybrid performer Andrew Van Ginkel early in free agency,’s Adam Caplan notes, but the ex-Dolphins linebacker signed with the Vikings on a two-year, $20MM deal.

The Rams have not added an edge player in free agency, and they were not believed to be aiming to spend too much to fill the post opposite Young. The team had hoped Van Ginkel’s market would come down a bit, per The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue (subscription required), but it did not. Van Ginkel received $10MM guaranteed at signing from the Vikings, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling. Another $3MM shifts from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee on Day 3 of the 2025 league year, giving Minnesota some options with the ex-Miami defender.

Vic Fangio used Van Ginkel in more of a pass-rushing role down the stretch last season, a campaign that featured Jaelan Phillips sustain a torn Achilles during the Dolphins’ Black Friday game. Reuniting with Brian Flores in the Twin Cities, Van Ginkel has shown pass-rushing chops in the past; prior to his six-sack 2023, he accumulated 20 QB hits and nine tackles for loss in Flores’ 2021 Miami finale.

It is difficult to know what to expect from the Rams’ pass rush. Donald raised this operation’s floor to a degree it landed the likes of Leonard Floyd, Von Miller and Dante Fowler big paydays. Over the past two years, the team invested little — beyond the third-round Young pick — on the edge; the team did attempt to keep Miller and then saw Carolina turn down a two-first-rounder offer (17 months before taking a second and a fifth from the Giants) for Brian Burns. But the Rams, who spent to address guard last week, have work to do here moving forward.

Elsewhere on defense, the Rams have begun extension talks with linebacker Ernest Jones, per Rodrigue, who classifies these talks as preliminary. A two-year starter, Jones has become one of the Rams’ top defenders. Coming off a 145-tackle, 4.5-sack season, the former third-round pick is going into a contract year.

Los Angeles released Bobby Wagner last year and previously let standout Cory Littleton collect his second contract elsewhere. Pro Football Focus ranked Jones 13th among linebackers last season, when the South Carolina alum broke through with 14 tackles for loss. With Donald retiring, Matthew Stafford going into his age-36 season and Cooper Kupp turning 31 this year, the Rams may be more open to extensions with players at lower-priority positions. They have some time to hammer out a Jones deal, as Rodrigue adds the sides are not in a rush.

Based on how the Rams spent their money last week, a Steve Avila-to-center plan appeared in place. Indeed, Rodrigue confirms the 2023 second-round pick is slated to slide to center. The Rams re-signed Kevin Dotson on a $16MM-per-year deal and gave Jonah Jackson a $17MM-AAV pact. Considering Avila was the team’s highest draft choice since Jared Goff, it seemed highly unlikely L.A. would demote him ahead of his second season.

TCU deployed Avila at center during his 2021 junior season; he also saw time there as a sophomore. After going into recent training camps with position battles up front, the Rams appear to have their starting five — Alaric Jackson, Jonah Jackson, Avila, Dotson, Rob Havenstein — up front. Attached to a recently reworked deal, Joe Noteboom is set to provide swing depth.

Rams Rumors: Safety, Kicker, OL, McClendon

With Jordan Fuller finally making a healthy return after missing most of the 2022 season on injured reserve, the Rams should be set at one of their safety spots. Fuller had started all 28 games he’d appeared in over his first two years, and he’s stood out so far this offseason in OTAs and minicamp. The battle for who will start next to Fuller, though, has become a situation to watch in Los Angeles, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic.

There appears to be two second-year players at the forefront of the race: last year’s sixth-round pick Quentin Lake and seventh-round pick Russ Yeast. Lake got a late start to his rookie year after starting the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. Once activated, he played almost exclusively on special teams until the team’s season finale in Seattle. Yeast also started off mainly on special teams before earning a good number of defensive snaps late in the year. He made his first career start in that same Seattle game.

Lake and Yeast will both get significant run with the first team in an effort to determine a starter. A dark horse in the competition could be rookie seventh-round pick Jason Taylor II. The Oklahoma State product had an impressive 99 tackles last season to go along with six interceptions for the Cowboys. While each player should get a strong chance, it’s believed that Yeast has the early edge.

Here are a couple other rumors coming out of LA:

  • An expected camp kicking battle was cut short when Christopher Dunn was waived a couple weeks ago. The Rams currently only roster undrafted rookie Tanner Brown at the position. Also coming out of Stillwater, Brown never missed a single extra point during his collegiate career. In his senior year, Brown converted an impressive 22 of 23 field goal attempts. Despite the lofty college numbers, entering the season with Brown as the only option is a risky move. Rodrigue doesn’t rule out the possibility of Los Angeles bringing in some camp competition for the young specialist.
  • The Rams’ top draft selection this year, second-round guard Steve Avila, is reportedly “as pro-ready a rookie as (Rodrigue has) seen walk into the (Rams’) building.” If the TCU-product secures a starting guard spot, as expected, the other guard spot could be won in competition between Tremayne Anchrum and Logan Bruss. Both Anchrum and Bruss were limited last season due to injury and are reportedly itching to prove their worth in 2023. Bruss has even gotten snaps at his old college position of right tackle, making him a strong candidate for a Swiss Army role on the offensive line if he can’t win a starting job. Rodrigue warns not to forget about rookie fifth-round pick Warren McClendon out of Georgia, as well. Although a knee injury forced him to miss time this spring, McClendon’s expected to make some noise in camp this summer.

Rams Sign Round 2 OL Steve Avila

Selecting a guard with their first pick for the second straight year, the Rams are expected to plug Steve Avila into their starting lineup. That process can now begin in earnest, with Avila now under contract.

Chosen 36th overall out of TCU, Avila will be ticketed for the terms the Seahawks gave No. 37 pick Derick Hall. Avila will receive three years fully guaranteed, Field Yates of tweets, adding that 10% of his 2026 salary is locked in at signing as well.

The 10% component marks a first for a player in the No. 36 slot, per Yates, representing more gains for second-round picks. With the slot system in its second decade, fewer bargaining territory exists during rookie-deal negotiations. But second-rounders’ pacts have become a notable area featuring wiggle room. Avila and Hall’s deals will apply more pressure on the teams who chose players in that pick neighborhood.

The Rams, who led off their 2022 draft with Wisconsin O-lineman Logan Bruss, have Avila penciled in at one of their guard spots. Bruss is coming off August 2022 ACL and MCL tears, and while he is practicing, last year’s 104th overall pick does not have a clear path to a first-string gig like Avila appears to. Following an injury-wrecked season up front, the Rams are in search of answers just about everywhere except for right tackle, where Rob Havenstein has the job locked down.

While Peter Skoronski may wind up at guard for the Titans, Avila represents the first pure guard chosen this year. He is also the Rams’ highest-drafted player since they took Jared Goff first overall in 2016.

Avila, 23, could be an option at center at some point, having started there during most of his 2021 junior season and parts of his sophomore campaign. But he spent the ’22 slate at guard, starting 15 games and earning consensus All-American honors. TCU’s first consensus All-American since wideout Josh Doctson in 2015, Avila played a significant role in the Horned Frogs becoming one of the most unlikely entrants in a Division I-FBS national championship game. The 330-pound blocker played 1,044 snaps at left guard and did not allow a sack last season.

In addition to Avila, the Rams moved ahead with two other agreements with their 14-man draft class. Wingate punter Ethan Evans (No. 223) and Oklahoma State safety Jason Taylor II (No. 234) signed their four-year rookie deals Tuesday as well, Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams notes. The Rams chose Taylor with the pick obtained for Allen Robinson.

Latest On Rams’ Offensive Line

The Rams’ offensive line staffing issues extended to the point three in-season signings — Matt Skura, Ty Nsekhe, Oday Aboushi — needed to step into starting roles last season. Skura and Nsekhe ended up making eight starts for a team mired in a near-season-long blocking crisis.

None of these veterans remain with the team, as it will attempt to reconstruct a line with capabilities near the level of its 2021 Super Bowl-winning group. As of OTAs, however, only one spot appears locked down. Rob Havenstein, the only constant for Los Angeles up front last season, is on track to man the team’s right tackle spot for a ninth season. Beyond the St. Louis-era holdover, competition will ensue in the coming months.

Although the Rams re-signed Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen last year, neither may be a lock to enter the season as a starter. Allen will compete for the center job he has held for three of the past four seasons — excepting a full-season 2020 absence — while Noteboom, per The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue will likely vie for the left tackle gig with Alaric Jackson, one of the other Rams to suffer a season-ending health issue last year (subscription required).

Noteboom, Jackson, Allen, David Edwards, Tremayne Anchrum and 2022 third-round pick Logan Bruss were lost for the season. Week 1 right guard Coleman Shelton missed time as well, leading to numerous O-line combinations during a disastrous Super Bowl title defense. Of this group, all are back except Edwards, a three-year guard starter who signed a low-cost deal with the Bills in March.

Noteboom, who signed a three-year, $39MM deal ($16.5MM fully guaranteed) to succeed Andrew Whitworth, suffered an Achilles tear in mid-October. He is not yet a full OTAs participant but is expected to be full-go by training camp. The other in-house option at left tackle, Jackson, filled in for Noteboom but did not play past Week 9 due to a blood clot issue. The Rams cleared Jackson (six 2022 starts) earlier this spring, Rodrigue notes, giving the third-year UDFA an interesting opportunity. It would stand to reason Noteboom will be favored, given his contract and previous role as Whitworth’s top backup, though Rodrigue adds the former third-round pick could be a left guard option as well. Noteboom played guard in 2019, but a season-ending injury closed that path. Jackson played both guard and tackle last season, filling in for both Noteboom and Edwards, offering flexibility for the regrouping Rams this offseason.

Allen started at center throughout the Rams’ Super Bowl-winning season but suffered a Week 1 knee injury and saw a calf ailment end his season three games early. Suffering an ACL tear midway through the 2019 season and missing all of 2020 as a result, Allen played just seven games last season. While he worked his way back from the ACL setback en route to a two-year, $10MM deal, the guarantees on that pact have been paid out. Allen figures to match up with last year’s Week 1 right guard, Shelton, at center. Pro Football Focus graded Allen as the NFL’s 10th-best center in 2021; it slotted Shelton as a bottom-tier interior lineman last year.

While Shelton (13 starts last season) will also be an option at right guard again, the Rams have used their top pick on a guard in each of the past two years. Bruss, who suffered ACL and MCL tears during a preseason game, has received clearance to return. The Rams chose TCU’s Steve Avila 36th overall. Avila should be ticketed for a starting guard role. Bruss was in competition for the right guard gig last year, but Avila’s draft slot would make it a bit of a surprise if he was not penciled in to start in Week 1. A former seventh-round pick, Anchrum has minimal game experience and is coming off a September fibula fracture. He will likely vie for a swing job.

Over the past two offseasons, the Rams have lost considerable experience. Whitworth’s retirement and the free agency exits of Edwards and Austin Corbett have created an interesting (and mostly unproven) mix here. The Rams could have re-signed Edwards for next to nothing, as he is tied to a one-year, $1.77MM contract, but they will aim to build around Avila. The team, which also added new O-line coaches (Ryan Wendell, Zak Kromer), may field a new-look front five come Week 1.

Draft Notes: Hooker, Texans, Avila

For much of the pre-draft process, it has been widely assumed that four quarterbacks will be taken in the first round. The next highest-rated passer, Hendon Hooker, could increase that number to five.

The Tennessee product had a promising 2022 season cut short by an ACL tear, which will keep him sidelined for at least part of his rookie campaign. That, along with his age (25), has hurt his stock to the point that many see him as a second-round prospect. Hooker has met with a number of teams across the Day 1 order, however, and the Raiders are one squad which came away impressed with him.

ESPN’s Matt Miller confirms that Hooker is gathering steam to be picked in the first round. He cites multiple scouts who believe he can safely be penciled into the Day 1 order, with one prediction even connecting him to the Commanders at No. 16. Washington is committed to Sam Howell as their starter, and they have signed Jacoby Brissett as an experienced backup. While teams set to pick later in the round could therefore be better fits, it may not come as much a surprise if one of them elects to add Hooker compared to earlier in the offseason.

Here are some other notes from the same ESPN piece:

  • Both Miller and colleague Jordan Reid are in line with the prevailing thought in league circles that the Texans will not use the second overall pick on a quarterback. Recent reports have increasingly pointed to Houston preferring a defensive prospect to any quarterback other than Bryce Young, who is widely expected to go first overall. Miller adds that Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. is the name “most often connected” to the second pick – something which goes against previous reports listing fellow edge rusher Tyree Wilson as the favorite for GM Nick Caserio and Co. In any case, the Texans (who also hold the 12th pick) will certainly be a team to watch in the early going on Thursday, as their QB situation may not be addressed on Day 1.
  • Reid names Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents and TCU guard Steve Avila as players who could find their way into the back of the first round. The latter delivered strong performances both in the run game and in pass protection during the Horned Frogs’ run to the national title game and is among the top interior linemen in the 2023 class. Per Reid, both the Cowboys and Saints have their eye on Avila. Both Dallas and New Orleans used first-round picks (Tyler Smith and Trevor Penning, respectively) to bolster their offensive fronts last year, but Avila could be an immediate starter for whichever team adds him late on Day 1 or early on Day 2.