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.