There’s been a lot of focus on the Rams’ offensive line this offseason — which isn’t unique to 2021 or the Rams — but more so on the backups than the starters. Other than the lack of real NFL experience at the center position entering OTAs, and maybe the fact that Bobby Evans is being thrown into the fire to some degree at guard, LA seems to be doing just fine with their starting five.
What will happen if they end up “not fine” next season at one of those starting positions? We know that’s probably inevitable. At some point, the reserves will be tapped. What would that look like?
I don’t want to use the word “injury” here so let’s just ask, “What if the Rams needed a replacement?” Here are my thoughts on answering that question at all five starting OL positions and then some.
What if the Rams needed an Andrew Whitworth replacement?
Fallback option: Joe Noteboom
It’s perhaps the easiest one to predict because it’s the one that happened last season. Whitworth tore his MCL and missed the second half of the year and Noteboom proved adequate as a left tackle. It’s worth noting, because it’s easy to forget, that Noteboom himself spent six weeks on injured reserve last year and he’s not been especially reliable in his career.
With Noteboom as the left tackle, LA was able to beat teams like the Buccaneers, Cardinals, and Patriots in the second half of the year.
What if the Rams needed a David Edwards replacement?
Fallback option: Joe Noteboom
This is a big part of Noteboom’s value. He began the season as the starting left guard and finished it as a left tackle. Should Edwards go out, I expect Noteboom to step in.
What if the Rams needed replacements for Whitworth and Edwards?
Fallback option: Joe Noteboom and Chandler Brewer
If Noteboom were unavailable, where would McVay turn next? The coaching staff and front office are high on Brewer, calling him a “draft pick” this year as he returns from opting out of the 2020 season.
McVay noted that Brewer can play outside and inside, so it is possible that he could win the job behind Whitworth or Rob Havenstein. With Noteboom as a free agent in 2022, Brewer could be in line as the next super utility player.
What if the Rams needed an Austin Corbett replacement?
Fallback option: Brian Allen
By all accounts, Austin Corbett will be moving back to center and serve as the replacement for Austin Blythe, himself a former Rams guard who shifted inside when the need appeared. If Corbett wins that job, then goes out for any reason, Allen seems the obvious candidate to be his backup because of nine starts in 2019 and a lack of other options.
UDFA Jordan Meredith and former seventh rounder Tremayne Anchrum could also compete for that role. Coleman Shelton remains on the roster but through two seasons has yet to get off of special teams and at nearly 26, is a little old for a “prospect.”
What if the Rams needed a Bobby Evans replacement?
Fallback option: Chandler Brewer
It looks as if Evans will start off as the team’s right guard. A third round pick in 2019, the 24-year-old Evans played just one offensive snap in 2020, but the decision to not sign or draft any competing offensive linemen means that Snead and McVay are confident that he can handle the job. That is a strong endorsement for a player with so little NFL experience, but his practices and potential must have impressed the staff over the last two years.
I spy Austin Corbett at center and Bobby Evans at RG with the 1st-team OL (photo via Rams) pic.twitter.com/QuHiJdbkP4— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) May 18, 2021
Should Evans go out, Brewer might earn the right to be the backup at both guard spots. Jamil Demby, Shelton, and Anchrum could also compete for snaps there.
What if the Rams needed replacements for Edwards and Evans?
Fallback option: Tremayne Anchrum and Chandler Brewer
What if both guards go out? Noteboom and Brewer would be the obvious fallback options, but if Noteboom was needed at tackle or just not as good of a fit, then perhaps Anchrum will earn an opportunity at guard.
What if the Rams needed a Rob Havenstein replacement?
Fallback option: Bobby Evans and Joseph Noteboom
Havenstein has been healthy through most of his career, but did miss seven games as recently as 2019. His backup this year could be any number of players, including undrafted free agent Alaric Jackson, but perhaps the solution won’t be as simple as going to the reserve right tackle. Maybe Brewer backs up Havenstein, but another possibility would be putting Noteboom or or Brewer or somebody else at right guard, then sliding Evans out another spot and testing him at right tackle. That might be Evans’ future anyway.
Which OL position has the most concerning lack of depth?
This poll is closed