The 2022-2023 season was one to forget for the defending champion Los Angeles Rams, as going from 12-5 Super Bowl winners to 5-12 all in a calendar year was quite the feat. Nevertheless, the show goes on, and the sights should now be set on bouncing back next season and returning to championship contention form.
Now, the Rams are not slated to be big spenders in free agency, so their focus should be improving through this year's NFL Draft, with the offensive line being the main point of emphasis. This past season, the Rams gave up a whopping 59 sacks, nearly double the 31 sacks given up just one season prior. Most of the volatility of the o-line was due to the fact that the team set a new league record for most consecutive games with a different combination of players up front, a recipe for disaster for a position group built on chemistry and continuity.
Although the group started to play better down the stretch, a team can never have enough dependable guys up front, so we can fully expect the Rams to add 1-2 more men to that group through the NFL Draft. Here are three guys that I believe the Rams need to target, and should make sure to do their best to get their hands on in order to improve the group as a whole:
1) ANDREW VORHEES, OG (USC)
There is no doubt in my mind that the Rams will have to consider using their early 2nd round selection to select a potential plug-and-play offensive lineman, a man that will be ready to compete right away in training camp. That man should be Andrew Vorhees out of USC.
Vorhees saw action in every one of his years at SC, playing at both guard spots as well as some left tackle throughout his career in college. The past two seasons, he mainly played left guard, and was easily the best offensive lineman on the team on an otherwise average unit. In those two seasons, Vorhees played a total of 1,622 snaps and only gave up 23 QB hurries, 3 QB hits, and 3 sacks in total. Very solid stats for the immense number of reps we saw from Vorhees the past two years.
The Rams struggled mightily in protecting the passer last year, and Andrew Vorhees is a player that can come in right away and help aid with those struggles.
2) T.J. BASS, OG/OT (OREGON)
Now, if the Rams do decide to spend their early 2nd round selection on something other than offensive line, there are options in the later rounds that can be considered “draft diamonds”.
The first offensive lineman that I believe will be a steal when looking back on this class is T.J. Bass out of the University of Oregon. Bass came into Oregon as a junior college transfer, as he was one of the top ranked JUCO recruits when he was coming out of Butte College. Bass was an instant starter at left guard for the Ducks back in 2020 before being moved to left tackle for the vast majority of the remainder of his college career, mainly due to the departure of future top-10 selection Penei Sewell.
T.J. Bass logged a grand total of 2,144 snaps in his career at Oregon, giving up a total of 34 QB hurries, 3 QB hits, and 2 sacks. Not only are those solid numbers for a man that played two positions, he also proved to be extremely durable given such a large amount of snaps. With that being said, the best position for Bass in the NFL will be at the guard spot, an area that will be open for competition come training camp for the Rams.
The Rams need depth pieces that are versatile, and Bass proved that he can play both guard and tackle productively. Bass should be available in rounds 4-7, and the Rams could snag themselves an absolute steal should they take a chance on him.
3) LUKE WYPLER, C (OHIO STATE)
Last season, Rams starting center Brian Allen went down with an injury early in the season, causing all hell to break loose as L.A. tried to shuffle players all over to compensate for the loss of Allen. For this reason, the Rams may need to look at a center in order to allow Coleman Shelton to fully transition to guard, which is why Ohio State center Luke Wypler would be a great mid-round selection for the Rams.
Wypler, after just three seasons in college, played a total of 1,632 snaps while only giving up 13 QB hurries, 1 QB hit, and 0 sacks over the entirety of his college career. Wypler established himself as an absolute pillar to the Ohio State offensive line in pass protection, and that is not considered the true strength of his game. Wypler is a natural run blocker, a mauling presence that really excels in getting a solid initial push off the snap of the football.
Not only that, but Wypler is also very good at getting to/landing blocks at the second level, which is absolutely critical in an offense like the Rams offense who loves screens along with zone running concepts. In my eyes, Luke Wypler would fit perfectly into what the Rams like to do, and if he can move between both center and guard, could find himself as a plug-and-play type of guy should L.A. select him in the upcoming NFL Draft.