When it comes to the 2023 draft cycle for the Los Angeles Rams, I expect the responses from fans to be the same as it was in 2020, 2021, and 2022: “Stop talking about anyone who isn’t an offensive lineman.”
Well, stop telling the media. Start telling Les Snead. Or Sean McVay, since he’s coming back. Try as many have been doing to try and will more offensive line prospects to the Rams over the last three to seven years, it isn’t working. Don’t blame writers when it is suggested that for the eighth year in a row, Snead isn’t going to spend an early draft pick on an offensive lineman.
Or blame McVay, because the earliest draft pick that the Rams have spent on an offensive lineman since he’s become the head coach is Joe Noteboom, the 89th overall pick in 2018.
Or blame the roster, because L.A. has big needs at edge rusher, skill positions, and in the secondary.
Or blame college football coaches, because many offensive line prospects come into the NFL with major issues to fix and development needed to be ready to start for most pro teams.
Or blame McVay for his success, because the Rams went to two Super Bowls in four years and had winning seasons from 2017-2021 without spending early picks on offensive linemen.
But I know this: I didn’t do it!
And just as I know that Rams fans will keep begging the team to spend their first pick on an offensive lineman just as they do every draft cycle, so too will I be unsurprised if Snead decides to go in another direction for the eighth year in a row.
For the eighth year in a row.
The Rams have not drafted an offensive line prospect earlier than 89 since they moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles. They have not picked an offensive line prospect in the top-50 since Greg Robinson in 2014.
Should the Rams pick an offensive lineman? Maybe. Will they? Maybe. Do I believe that Snead and McVay think that it is L.A.’s biggest need and that the 2023 draft class will be begging them to pluck an offensive lineman off of the board if they stick where they are near the top of the second round?
Maybe. But it would be a distinct and significant change of direction from every other year that they’ve worked together.
OT Joe Noteboom, 3.89
C Brian Allen, 4.111
OT Jamil Demby, 6.192
OT Bobby Evans, 3.97
OL David Edwards, 5.169
G Tremayne Anchrum, 7.250
G Logan Bruss, 3.104
OT A.J. Arcuri, 7.261
One of the biggest factors weighing against the odds of the Rams changing direction and drafting an offensive lineman in the second round this year would be McVay’s hesitancy to play a rookie and L.A.’s typically long learning curve to get players ready to play offensive line for him.
Noteboom was drafted to sit and learn and even five years later, he has not officially established himself as an NFL starter. Not even as a guard, as was hoped early in his career. Allen didn’t become a starter until year four. Evans never became a starter. Bruss, we’ll never know what would have happened in his rookie season if he didn’t get injured.
Only Edwards was getting significant action as a rookie—because of Noteboom’s injuries—and if anything, because he was a fifth round pick, he only emboldens Snead and McVay to find offensive linemen on day three.
Another reason that Snead might do the same thing in 2023 that he’s done every year since 2016 is that McVay is probably confident that he could field a starting five right now. Many fans are associating L.A.’s terrible offensive line play in 2022 with getting “immediate upgrades” out of the 2023 rookie class, but this is almost certainly now how Sean McVay would put it.
McVay could have Noteboom and A.J. Jackson competing for left tackle, Rob Havenstein at right tackle, Allen at center, and a competition at right guard involving Bruss, Coleman Shelton, and others. Edwards is a free agent, but either the team sees him as a priority or they probably feel confident that someone out of Tremayne Anchrum, Chandler Brewer, Arcuri could compete to replace him. McVay may also like some of what he’s seen out of Ty Nsekhe, Matt Skura, Oday Aboushi to bring them back, although I wouldn’t bet on it.
It’s just possible.
None of these points are my opinions. This is merely an observation of a very consistent record of how McVay has prioritized the offensive line over six seasons: Low.
He gives it low priority. Other than Andrew Whitworth, which of course has been the best offensive lineman move by the Rams in the last five years and maybe a reason why L.A. could look to free agency to improve the offensive line and its depth instead of on day two of the draft, Snead has not put a lot of money or draft capital into the offensive line since McVay arrived in 2017.
That’s just a fact. And because the Rams were a great offense prior to 2022, it is possible that McVay and Snead won’t adjust that approach. It is possible that because 2022 was such a disaster, they will change that approach.
But that is just a theory. McVay and Snead’s history with regards to offensive linemen in the draft, that’s a fact.
If that frustrates you, let them know.