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2018 Los Angeles Rams Roster Preview: Offensive line unit preview

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Can the offensive line continue to battle father time as the youth movement begins?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams-Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
OT Andrew Whitworth: 10/10
C John Sullivan: 10/10
OT Rob Havenstein: 10/10
OL Rodger Saffold: 9.5/10
OL Joseph Noteboom: 9.5/10
OG Jamon Brown: 9/10
OL Austin Blythe: 9/10
OL Cornelius Lucas: 8/10
OL Jamil Demby: 7.5/10
C Brian Allen: 6/10
OL Jake Eldrenkamp: 2/10
OL Jeremiah Kolone: 2/10
OL Aaron Neary: 1.5/10
OT Darrell Williams: 1/10

The Los Angeles Rams enter camp with 14 offensive linemen. Fun fact: Neary, Williams and J.J. Dielman were on the original 53-man roster in 2017.

The starting five, albeit a bit complicated due to the two-game suspension for Brown, is pretty much set with last year’s starters coming back in good health so far (knocks on wood). With that being said, the Rams aren’t going to just magically expect things to be rosy for the group as evidenced by the O-line investments in the 2018 NFL Draft in Noteboom, Allen and Demby.

Roster Battle

Battle for starting spots?

No.

Battle for depth?

Certainly.

The starting five is set for sure. Noteboom and Allen seem to be pretty set as additions considering their draft status and flexibility between the two of them to be able to play essentially all five spots in a pinch.

The real battle is behind those seven guys. Will Demby be good enough, or will the Rams try to stash him on the practice squad? Blythe was solid in the fill-in moments when Sullivan left two games. Who is better between Williams and Lucas to make it out of camp? Does it even matter? Is there a reason Neary was on the 2017 53-man roster and brought back?

These questions linger for players who might be battling for a spot that may or may not even exist. This season will be an interesting year for the group as the youth and veterans will have to try and find balance. Saffold, Brown and Havenstein are all free agents after the season. While on paper Noteboom and Allen could replace two of those eventually, will father time tap Whitworth and Sullivan on the shoulder this year or wait a little bit longer?

Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Aaron Kromer will continue to work his magic in the development and maintenance of the group, but if there’s anything we can learn from 2017 the Rams’ offensive line is a crucial piece for Head Coach Sean McVay and he will ensure it is right.

Expectations

No one could have seen the remarkable turnaround of the unit with basically two veteran additions last season. While Whitworth was going to be a definitive upgrade, Sullivan was a bit of a question mark coming into last season.

A year later, and some believe that both could play forever. The reality is between the two older vets, Saffold’s injury history, and just the nature of the NFL, it is likely the Rams offensive line will have a hard time duplicating its success from last season.

Look for the Rams to lean on these guys heavily.

Impact on Final Roster

The Rams have historically carried a lot of linemen into the regular season. Whether it was McVay or former Head Coach Jeff Fisher, offensive linemen make it on the opening day roster in double-digit quantities.

This year will be interesting because there is projected to be limited veteran depth and a mix of either really old or really young. Will the Rams want to roll the dice without some veterans like Williams, Lucas or Blythe or will the team want to carry ten again like last season to be safe?

All in all, one thing is for sure, this group has come a very long way from last year.