As the Rams prepare for the NFL draft, The Times will review their roster. Part 7 of 10: Offensive line.
As they released a parade of defensive players through the agency and cut ball carrier Todd Gurley, the Rams clarified their priorities by re-signing attacking tackle Andrew Whitworth and versatile attacking lineman Austin Blythe.
“I was really excited to find these guys, and I think I feel so comfortable with both,” said quarterback Jared Goff during a video conference with reporters. “Getting these two guys for my confidence, and feeling good in the pocket, is good.”
The Rams are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 9-7 season that caused the playoffs to miss for the first time under coach Sean McVay.
After two seasons of rare continuity, the Rams’ attack line in 2019 has been disparate due to injuries. Left goalkeeper Joe Noteboom and center Brian Allen suffered knee injuries late in the season. Right tackle Rob Havenstein has also been sidelined for the last seven games due to injuries.
Blythe moved from the right guard to the center, and rookies David Edwards and Bobby Evans took advantage of the opportunities to become starters. Austin Corbett, acquired in mid-season trade with the Cleveland Browns, also intervened and became a starter in the left guard.
Who will play where during the coming season has to be determined, but the overriding question for the Rams line is the same as in 2019: who will eventually succeed Whitworth? The 14-year-old veteran has signed a three-year contract but is considered to be year over year.
“You take it a year at a time,” McVay said recently.
Noteboom was considered to be Whitworth’s heir after the Rams drafted him in the third round in 2018. However, the knee injury stifled Noteboom’s progress, and it remains to be seen if he can play a position effectively as important.
Evans, a third-round pick in 2019, played tackle right and left at Oklahoma College.
The Rams have no first-round pick in the draft from April 23 to 25. They have two choices in the second round, two in the third and one each in the fourth, sixth and seventh round.
General manager Les Snead said “the plan was made” when the Rams wrote 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, the Rams could have hired an experienced lineman for depth, but they didn’t add any through a free agency. Except injuries to the current group, they could still sit adding a veteran.
Draft copy: The Rams could use one of their second-round picks on an attacking tackle if a highly valued prospect is still on the board at choices 52 or 57.
List decisions: Havenstein has three more years on the $ 32.5 million contract extension he received before the 2018 season. If Evans wins a starting spot, the Rams could try to swap Havenstein. Blythe signed a one-year contract, so he will be a free agent again in 2021.
NEXT: Running backs.