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Would now be the worst time for the Rams to finally use early pick on a center?

After years of choosing skill players in round two, should LA choose a center when they have other needs?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 Semifinal Game Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Whenever Rams general manager Les Snead does use his top pick on offensive line help, he seems to wait for years when L.A. doesn’t have a first or second round pick. In 2018, the Rams chose Joe Noteboom with their first pick, but it came at 89th overall. And then again in 2022, guard Logan Bruss was the top pick, coming in at 104th overall.

For years, Rams fans have expressed dismay over Snead’s perennial decision to bypass offensive line talent in the second round, especially for the likes of receivers such as Tutu Atwell or running backs such as Cam Akers. All L.A. second round picks dating back to 2016 include Atwell, Akers, Gerald Everett, Taylor Rapp, and Van Jefferson.

Third round picks in that same period of time include Noteboom, Bruss, Cooper Kupp, John Johnson, Darrell Henderson, David Long, Bobby Evans, Terrell Lewis, Terrell Burgess, and Ernest Jones.

The Rams currently hold picks 36, 69, and 77 on day two and while L.A. does again need offensive line help—this time including offensive tackle, which wasn’t always the case with Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein—that position group isn’t alone anymore. In large reason because of the whole list of names, other than Cooper Kupp, that I just wrote out.

Not only do the Rams need to surround the quarterback position with more talent at virtually every position when you look at Matthew Stafford’s supporting cast, they also need to have a backup plan to Matthew Stafford at quarterback. If draft prospects such as Will Levis, Hendon Hooker, Tanner McKee, or someone else who they like is available at the top of round two, is that a potential value addition that Sean McVay and Snead can’t ignore?

They might have no other choice because again, the Rams have so many needs. The team is in a position to go for the best player available with every pick.

Snead may have to make his best available pick on the defense instead of on the offensive line, given that Aaron Donald’s supporting cast on defense is even worse than Stafford’s. And of course, the Rams can’t quite overlook a prospect like Pitt’s Calijah Kancey—compared to Aaron Donald in size and school—by worrying that he’s blocked from getting playing time. We don’t know how much longer Stafford, Kupp, and Donald will be around.

The annual lament that Snead bypassed a center for a receiver, running back, or cornerback can no longer be what it once was and if anything, is it responsible to pick an interior offensive linemen over a potential impact player at edge rusher, receiver, cornerback, or linebacker? For all the complaints about teams that pick running backs in the first or second round, there’s no clear difference in value between that position and center or guard.

HOWEVER, do the Rams need better interior offensive linemen? Absolutely.

One such top-ranked prospect is Ohio State’s Luke Wypler and I will once again point to Turf Show Times’ resident draft expert Ferragamo15 for some recent thoughts on him. Please go to the TST homepage and look at the right hand side of the page for a long list of 2023 draft profiles or just click here.

Wypler cites Brian Allen as a center he models his game after:

I feel the major draft experts have this player pegged properly. If you need a starting center, Luke Wypler is a good candidate to draft with the expectation that he’ll eventually become your starter. Might not be day 1 as a rookie. Probably the best thing for his career would be to serve as an apprentice for at least one season and learn from a good veteran center, like when John Sullivan was still a Ram. The way Brian Allen’s contract is structure, the Rams theoretically could draft Wypler, let him sit behind Allen for one year, then move Allen via trade or as a cap casualty release in 2024.

Ferragamo notes that Wypler has a firm round three grade, so perhaps Snead wouldn’t even need to use pick 36 on him, if that was the direction that he wanted to go. Maybe pick 77 would be more in line with his value.

Centers who could go earlier include Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz and Wisconsin’s Joe Tippmann. One of the top ranked guards is TCU’s Steve Avila and you can read more about him here. Tackle/guard Cody Mauch (Profile Here) has been described by the Senior Bowl’s Jim Nagy as the one football player he’d probably most want to have out of those guys who went to the Senior Bowl. Ferragamo’s Kancey profile can be read here.

But as badly as the Rams could use upgrades at center and guard, heir apparent at left and right tackle, is it a good time to be passing up an edge rusher or a cornerback or a wide receiver with pick 36? There was certainly a time when receivers were only as good as their quarterbacks. Now it seems like almost any good quarterback is working with a minimum of two number one receivers.

The L.A. Rams now have needs all over, so does that make the holes on the offensive line more necessary to plug...or the right time to let their picks from yesteryear (Bruss, Tremayne Anchrum) fill them while they address the rest of the ship?