Of the L.A. Rams current 10 linemen under contract, seven have played on the interior. Brian Allen, Coleman Shelton, and Tremayne Anchrum call inside their home, Joseph Noteboom and Alaric Jackson are tackles by trade who have played guard and rookies Logan Bruss and Zachary Thomas are listed as guards, but never played a regular season snap. Bruss (out all season with injury) was last year’s to pick and Chandler Brewer is a Restricted Free Agent with guard experience and can be retained for near the league minimum, if the Rams so choose.
The other three on the team, Rob Havenstein, A.J. Arcuri, and Max Pircher are tackles. It would appear that tackle could be addressed just as easily the interior, but in reality, it is hard to see the Rams moving on from bookends Havenstein and Noteboom. Jackson has made a fine swing player.
Over the past 10 years, 151 guards have been selected in the draft, 15 per year, with only 60 of those coming in the first three rounds. Last year, 21 were taken. On my board, I have 14 guards with draftable grades. I’m missing a couple of small school players, mostly because it’s hard to find much film on them and time constraints, but will try to get up to speed by the NFL Combine and Pro Days.
First, here are the 2023 rookie salary cap monetary amounts and the Rams projected draft picks, as per overthecap.com,
Round 1 - $7,377,569 down to $2,257,081 (no picks)
Round 2 - #36 = $1,727,696
Round 3 - #69 = $1,056,419
Round 4 - #136 = $887,514
Round 5 - #172 = $815,992
Round 6 - #182 = $803,835, #189 = $799,152, #191 = $798,297, #211 = $785,917
Round 7 - #225 = $779,093, #252 = $770,952
UDFA minimum - $750,000
Tier #1, Rounds 1 & 2
O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida - 6’ 6” / 337 lbs. / 11 1/4” hands / 33 7/8” arms / 84” wingspan @ nfldraftbuzz.com
Transferred to Florida in 2022 and became a consensus All-American after three seasons at University of Louisiana. 22 years old, he’s been garnering post-season awards since his freshman year (2019), academic as well as on the field. He is rated as one of the top offensive line prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft and would unlikely be around when the Rams select at #36.
Really put together well for all that size and while his move skills are not elite, they are very good. He has the footwork and lateral agility for reach blocks and the get off for both climb and cut off blocks. Excellent play strength makes for knock down power in drive and down blocking situations.
It is reported by multiple sources that he never gave up a sack in college, probably subjective, but still, even if exaggerated, that’s a stellar stat in the SEC, alone. Really good punch and at keeping hands those inside. Shows to always fight for better better hand placement when grappling a pass rusher. He does struggle when facing faster defensive tackles and blitzes. He can play a little high at times, and does not have natural agility/flexibility/reaction to easily recover when losing the edge.
In a normal class, Torrence would likely rate as a mid Round 2 selection, but this year could easily rate a top twenty berth. Doesn’t have a history of position versatility and stills needs polish, but he fits in very well with what the Rams do and he seamlessly made the step up from the Sunbelt to SEC Conference. If you are in the camp that considers offensive line as the top position of need and draft capital needs to be spent on an upgrade, Torrence offers that. If still around, would be a fine choice at #36.
How would #Florida RG O’Cyrus Torrence #54 look after transferring from the Sun Belt to the SEC?— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) September 16, 2022
Like a player who wants to be a 1st round pick.
10 transfer prospects boosting their NFL Draft grades at their new home: https://t.co/wpqAlEEx6y pic.twitter.com/ewrl9BrDoM
Andrew Vorhees, USC - 6’ 6” / 325 lbs. / 9 3/4” hands / 32 3/8” arms / 79” wingspan @ nfldraftbuzz.com
Versatility and options abound from the 24 year-old, sixth-year senior. Logged multiple starts in both guard slots and at tackle. Took away All-American honors in 2022. On a personal note, although I have never met the prospect, I knew his late grandfather well and his grandmother worked for me for years. Great family, all hard working and country-ass tough. There will not be any quit in this kid.
Strength at point of attack is his calling card. Vorhees has the requisite athleticism to pull, move to the second level and is fluid in space. Has a tendency too get high out of the snap, trying to impose his strength/will and torque defenders to the the ground. It’s fun to watch, but he’s so good when drives out low, keeps his hands inside and latches on, then unhinges his hips and drives defenders.
But the NFL is a passing league and you have to be able to give your quarterback time, particularly with Rams longer-developing routes. Vorhees has the footwork and lateral agility to mirror defensive tackles moves, he needs to trust it. Gaining consistency on keeping his hands inside and keeping his feet moving when blocking pro grade rushers needs some polish. He has a naturally wide frame and does not appear to have problems setting an anchor.
I’m thinking it, so I’ll say it. Vorhees is a better fit for the Rams than O’Cyrus Torrence. There have been a couple of injuries, both early in his college days. Ankle surgery that forced him to redshirt after five games in 2019 and some cartilage clean up after the 2018 spring, but he logged 3600 snaps at USC. Consider him at #36 and don’t pass him up at #69. I look forward to his measurements at the NFL Combine, his arms look longer on film than he has been credited at.
I'm still very early in the 2023 Draft process but USC's Andrew Vorhees (IOL 6'6" 325 pounds) has been one of my favorite players on film.— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) November 6, 2022
Athletic, powerful, and aggressive. Some really fun stuff on film pic.twitter.com/eivWQPeDd8
Steve Avila, TCU - 6’ 3” / 332 lbs. / 9 1/4” hands / 32 5/8” / 79” wingspan @ Senior Bowl
Ultra-wide bodied interior line prospect with a volume of versatility, 16 starts at guard, 17 in the pivot and two at tackle. Avila was a 2022 consensus All-American and was a standout at the Senior Bowl workouts. In a year when there aren’t a lot of “can’t miss” of offensive linemen, Avila could easily go in Round 1.
Even though Avila has good get-off at the point of attack, he might limited to gap/power scheme running offenses. He has a dense, compact body with stellar strength up top and below, as well. Keeps low pad level with good knee bend and drives foes off the ball, has the torque power to steer defenders where he wants to take them. His grip strength does not allow easy escape when latched on. Knock down power on down blocks, has a tendency to get off balance on reach blocks
Already looks like he commands independent hands punches in pass pro, making full use of average arm length. He has awareness and switches off well to handle stunts/loops/twists. He has a naturally wide base and even if you beat him, it’s going take a wide path to get around him. His average athleticism doesn’t allow him to recover against speed.
Although stocky maulers are not the Rams standard fare in the Les Snead/Sean McVay era, Avila appears to have plug-and-play value because of his consistentcy in both the pass and run games and his physical power. Something in the back of my head keeps telling me he has a low floor. He has always been good player, but exploded under an “Air Raid” offense where simplicity, quick reads, and spreading things out rule the day, not the multiple reads, options, and getting down field that are part of the everyday NFL. I have a late Round 2 grade on Avila.
Run, hide or fight on the offensive line
Simply stated, I would be content with whoever the Rams decide to select at #36, but would not put up a fight for any of the top-rated guards.
If one of these prospects would happen to fall to Round 3, then the Rams should run to podium. Even in a weak class, scoring a player who’s in the top three of their position is good value.
But I think the Rams hide, and watch. Let some franchise’s chase and overdraft quarterbacks, running backs, and speed. Although this class is not top heavy with transformational players, there are solid-looking players down the line.
Rounds 3 and 4 are in the next installment.