Tim Barnes has been on quite a journey to get where he is now.
After going undrafted out of Missouri in the 2011 NFL Draft, Barnes signed with the Baltimore Ravens, but did not make the final roster. The Rams swooped him up shortly after his release from Baltimore. After years of being cut and re-signed, it would appear that Barnes has found a home with the Rams, at least for this upcoming season.
He was arguably the team’s best run blocker last year, especially considering Rodger Saffold was injured for most of the season. The mean streak that he plays with is a good tone setter for the rest of the offensive line. His movement skills in space are not the best, but he can handle 1-on-1 situations fairly well. Pass protection is not a strength for him, though, and may be his eventual downfall.
Barnes’s roster spot is safe, but the Rams currently have two other centers on roster. Demetrius Rhaney and Eric Kush are listed behind Barnes on the depth chart.
Rhaney has been with the Rams since they drafted him in 2014. He’s yet to make any serious noise as a competitor for the starting job. Though, he’s now going on his third year with the team, and many other 7th round picks can not say that in regards to the team that drafted them.
On the other hand, Kush is in Los Angeles by way of the Houston Texans. He started his career in Kansas City, only to be cut during his third season and bounce around the league before sticking with the Texans in 2015. Kush, like Rhaney, shouldn’t press Barnes for the starting center position.
Barnes provides a presence in the run game that will be hard to overthrow. He plays with a tenacity and level of strength that enables him to pin defensive tackles away from running lanes and generate movement when necessary. Pass blocking may not be his forte, but having Saffold and a more experienced Jamon Brown next to him should help mitigate his importance as a pass blocker.
If the two guys next to him can stay healthy and the offensive line can get a steady flow of cohesion, Barnes could really excel as a run blocker. Many of his issues in the run game last season were a product of poor communication and flow. With those problems eliminated, Barnes will have to simply outfight his opponent, and that is a task that he can handle.
Chances of Making Final Roster (9/10)
It’s unlikely that Barnes is being seen as a key piece to the offensive line moving forward, but he is their guy for the 2016 season. If the offensive line can stay healthy, Barnes should be able to spearhead a nice interior running game. Barnes provides a veteran presence, a familiarity with the playbook and surrounding players, and a fiery play style that the Rams can get production out of for this season.