Pro Football Focus has ranked every offensive line heading toward 2019 and has the Los Angeles Rams’ big guys 13th:
13. LOS ANGELES RAMS
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP:
Left Tackle: Andrew Whitworth
Left Guard: Bobby Evans
Center: Brian Allen
Right Guard: Austin Blythe
Right Tackle: Rob Havenstein
Either rookie Bobby Evans or 2018 third-rounder Joseph Noteboom will step in for Rodger Saffold at guard, and 2018 fourth-rounder Brian Allen is expected to replace longtime veteran John Sullivan at center. None of the three youngsters have played significant snaps in the NFL, but all of them earned high marks at the collegiate level. Noteboom earned a 77.0 overall grade and a 91.6 pass-blocking grade in his last year with TCU, and Allen earned 81.0-plus overall grades in each of his last three seasons at Michigan State. Evans, a third-round pick in this year’s draft, earned a 72.3 overall grade at left tackle in 2018 and an 86.2 overall grade at right tackle in 2017.
There’s much less to worry about with the Rams’ returning starters. Tackles Rob Havenstein and Andrew Whitworth are two of the best in the game right now, and guard Austin Blythe earned a career-high 71.0 overall grade this past season that he should build off in 2019.
Interesting inclusion of Evans over Noteboom, but I wouldn’t dismiss the analysis because of it.
Should they finish 13th, that would be a stark dropoff from 2018 as one of the best lines in the league if not the best outright. Football Outsiders ranked the Rams’ line first in Adjusted Line Yards (their primary run-blocking metric) and sixth in Adjusted Sack Rate (their primary pass-blocking metric). So to come in at 13th would spell quite a bit more trouble for QB Jared Goff who, as we discussed yesterday, has struggled mightily under pressure.
The X-factor here? Health.
The Rams have been extremely fortunate in terms of injuries on the line since relocating to LA. Teams ranked ahead of the Rams like the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys all had injuries decimate their O-line play last year. The positive outlook for the Rams here is that thanks to investments in the last two drafts, the Rams have plenty of depth that can support the line should injuries take starters out for any stretch.
Overall though, to have the Rams’ O-line in the top half of the league despite two departures (which included G Rodger Saffold III whose addition to the Tennessee Titans boosted them to 5th in these rankings) is an indication of the strength of the line. Should the Rams’ coaching staff get adequate play out of the left guard and center positions whoever ends up filling them over the course of the season, they could certainly finish higher than 13th at season’s end.