LA Rams general manager Les Snead might not try to follow patterns with his draft selections, and he certainly downplays the importance of measurables, but ultimately that is what many positions and roles do come down to: not just what their mind helps them do, but what their bodies will allow them to do.
We also know that Snead likes to prepare for one year down the line when he does make draft picks, so I wanted to compare some prospects to current Rams who might be leaving the team soon.
There are few positions more important than left tackle and few people in the world older than Andrew Whitworth, so let’s start there.
Andrew Whitworth, Left Tackle
40-yard Dash: 5.17
20-yard Shuttle: 4.83
As a prospect in 2006, Whitworth brought unique size and arm length to the position, with above average athleticism (though that is one crazy-bad three-cone time), which was enough to get him drafted with the 55th overall pick after a career at LSU. It is now 16 years later and there are tackles in the 2021 draft class who were only about five or six when Whitworth entered the league with the Bengals.
And one of them could be Whitworth’s backup and heir apparent if LA selects him this Friday.
Former NFL head coach Jim Mora Jr.’s thoughts on arm length for offensive tackles:
“It does make a difference,” Mora said. “It sounds like something very trivial but it’s very important because you’ve got to do a couple of things as an offensive tackle versus pass rush defensive ends. No. 1 is you’ve got to keep them away from the quarterback, obviously. In order to do that, you’ve got to be able to widen the edge. The way you widen the edge is with length. Length doesn’t always come in the form of long arms. It comes in the form of long legs, long torso, but it is your arms that keep the pass rusher away from your body.”
2021 NFL Draft Prospects
Stone Forsythe, Florida
Weight: 307 lbs
Arm Length: 34 3/8”
40-yard dash: 5.14
20-yard Shuttle: 4.65
You would think that at his size, with versatility and experience as a starter at Florida, that Forsythe could be seen as an early day two pick, at least. But Forsythe has been described as a “developmental tackle” who could take two or three years before he’s ready to start in the NFL, if ever.
I try to be impartial but I've never wanted a player to be awesome as much as I want Stone Forsythe to be awesome. Because that name is glorious.— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) April 20, 2021
One thing he does have is rare arm length that nearly matches Whitworth’s, and athleticism that even goes beyond what Whitworth had as a prospect, but he seems thin for the position (reports on his weight are a little all over the board, which is less surprising given that Florida had listed him as a 6’9 tackle) and it could be that he doesn’t help Sean McVay’s offense in the near future. Waiting for offensive linemen to contribute is something the Rams have done a little too often with those picks recently and some of them — Bobby Evans, Brian Allen, Jamil Demby of late — might never pan out.
Stone Forsythe might go in the 1st round just from the Georgia game alone.— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) April 24, 2021
Azeez Ojulari might go in the 2nd round just from the Florida game alone.
Walker Little, Stanford
Weight: 313 lbs
Arm Length: 33 3/4”
40-yard dash: 5.3
Little doesn’t have the arm length of Whitworth and Forsythe, but he’s slightly heavier, slightly more athletic, and he comes with the reputation of being a former five-star prospect who once stood above all of his peers. He also has a direct connection to current Rams offensive line coach Kevin Carberry, who held that same position with Stanford in 2020. Little opted out of last season, but played two seasons for him and was first team all-Pac 12 under his guidance.
The most underrated players in the draft according to the PFF draft board— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 23, 2021
Zach Wilson, BYU QB
Walker Little, Stanford OT
Complete list ⤵️https://t.co/Cr8FXl6cbS
Though he might also not have a place to start on the 2021 offense, Whitworth’s age and the knee injury he suffered last season might be one reason to reinforce the position with depth and potentially prepare for a passing of the torch next year.
Walker Little hasn't played a snap since WK1, 2019, but only allowed ONE pressure over his final seven 2018 games. pic.twitter.com/fSuEF2XRKY— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 21, 2021