In what seems like a yearly exercise in futility, Los Angles Rams fans debate about which top lineman L.A. should grab. In the end, those pleas are dead letters. News recently broke that center Brian Allen had his contract restructured. The announcement came on the heels of tackle Joseph Noteboom being restructured, as well. The news leads one to think that the Rams braintrust will rely on the two being fixtures of the 2023 offensive line.
It’s really not really a surprise, under the Les Snead/Sean McVay umbrella, the earliest the Rams have conscripted an offensive lineman was #89 and that late Round 3 selection was Noteboom back in 2019. Boom and Rob Havenstein appear to be penciled in as the starting bookends of the offensive line.
Nine-year veteran Havenstein has been a durable, solid performer and a good return on investment for the Round 2 (#57) risk in 2015. But he’ll turn 32 for 2023. Noteboom, although well paid, has struggled with assorted injuries and has only garnered 23 starts in five L.A. seasons.
Even with both starting tackle roles seemingly filled and all the Ramsother roster needs, using limited draft capital to find talent that could compete for a starting role would seem money better spent. Or would it? Should the Rams should decide to buck recent history and and grab a top tackle prospect, if he falls? Or god forbid, trade up to nab him?
In the past ten years, 61 offensive tackles, according to DraftHistory.com, have been selected in Rounds 1 and 2. I have six on my board for 2023, five certainly and Cody Mauch in the late second to early third area.
Since all the players were invited to the NFL combine, the measurements are their’s, making them consistent, at least, and as close to official as the art of measuring prospects can be. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com provides profiles of all Combine invitees and their draft grades. Those grades are in parentheses, along with where each player stands on his draft board.
Peter Skoronski, Northwestern - 6’ 4” / 313 lbs. / 10” hands / 32 1/4” arms @ NFL Combine (6.73, #6)
By far the best offensive line prospect and there’s no point in trying to capsule him in six lines when Turf Show Times has a thorough, entertaining review in the Fanpost section. So, is he a guard or a tackle? His one flaw that sticks out to me, because of his arm length, is when he punches in pass protection, he can be wide and high. Instead of latching on to the pass rushers breast plate, he is locked on the top/outside of his shoulder pads. He gets into that “lobster lock” situation, where he is forced to bear hug rushers.
The clip is meant to show how well Skoronski creates power. He stays low and unhinges his hips, throws his punch, and extends all the way through. Power ballet.
Broderick Jones, Georgia - 6’ 5” / 311 lbs. / 10 5/8” hands / 34 3/4” arms @ NFL Combine (6.44, #17)
True junior who turns 22 in May, had to wait his turn at Georgia before accumulating 19 starts. Light on his feet, twitchy, and loose limbed. Lean, sculpted body with room for more mass. Good mix of strength and athleticism. Has the traits for power and move blocking schemes. Raw prospect with tremendous upside who needs to clean up some technique issues and work on sustaining blocks. Has a bad habit of too often dropping his head on contact and using a late punch instead of extending his plus length and latching onto pass rushers.
Paris Johnson, Ohio State - 6’ 6” / 313 lbs. / 9 1/2” hands / 36 1/8” arms @ NFL Combine (6.39, #32)
Graduated with a degree in journalism, comes out as a true junior, speaks three languages, and turns 22 in July. Brings tackle/guard diversity and right now, he appears strongest in the run game. Traits are scheme diverse, although his move skills scream zone. Versus the pass, he uses his length well, has good footwork, and uses short choppy steps to generally mirror very well. When he gets beat, it’s usually on inside counter moves or spins, often because of a late and too high punch. Some of that can be cleaned up with patience and trusting his own move skills.
Darnell Wright, Tennessee - 6’ 5” / 333 lbs. / 9” hands / 33 3/4” arms @ NFL Combine (6.38, #35)
Four-year starter (42 of 47 games) who will turn 22 in training camp. Thickly built, with plus strength and drive power who projects best to a downhill run scheme. Good get off, stays low and leveraged, keeps feet moving, and sustains well. On pass sets he has a good anchor, is patient with his punch, hand fights and clamps on well. Although not gifted athletically, he has the footwork to cover outside speed and mirror the inside counter. Wright’s play on film has improved from year to year and he’s matured over 2700+ SEC snaps. He brings tackle/guard versatility.
Anton Harrison, Oklahoma - 6’ 4” / 315 lbs. / 9 1/4” hands / 34 1/8” arms / @ NFL Combine (6.27, #63)
One of the youngest prospects in the draft, just turned 21. Started 31 of his 33 games at left tackle. Long, lean frame with room for more mass. Smart and technical player, not a mauler, but has the upper body strength to torque defenders out of lanes and the sand to set a anchor in pass protection. Harrison has a very good punch, patient in its delivery and keeps it inside rushers chest, he also has enough length and grip strength to stymie them. Would like to see him work on bending knees and pad level. Sooners ran a lot of inside zone, similar to what the Rams did last year.
Cody Mauch, North Dakota State - 6’ 5” / 302 lbs. / 9 3/4” / 32 3/8” arms @ NFL Combine (6.36, #41)
24 year-old walk-on who spent six years in college. High school tight end with very good athleticism. Likely a guard in the pros, he has the agility and lateral move skills to make all the blocks. Very strong upper body and although an NFL move inside may call for better lower end strength, he has a brutish, physical play style and it’s always through the whistle. He strikes well on the move as well. Against FCS competition, his range made him a solid pass protector, but we’ll have to wait and see on his ability to anchor against bull rushing 300+ lb. defensive tackles.
.@NDSUfootball @CodyTud which ever team drafts Mauch is going to be thrilled and he is going to bring some fun and a little somethin somethin to the party everyday ❤️ ❤️ #bison #nfldraft #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/ISmNBJsAWy— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) March 19, 2023
Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse - 6’ 5” / 318 lbs. / 9 1/2” hands / 33 3/4” arms @ NFL Combine (6.39, #31)
Very good run blocker who needs some anchor work in pass protection. Smart, thickly cut four-year starter with 39 starts. He has a very good first move, both linear and lateral. Nimble feet, loose limbs, and stellar move skills for his dense physique. He sustains well and has aggressive finisher attitude. He has the potential to be a good pass protector. At his best, he has a patient powerful punch, latch-on strength and the light feet to mirror. But too often, when he doesn’t get his hands ready or punches high and wide, rushers get into his chest. He gets too high and off balance, forcing him to lose his anchor. Every NFL edge can turn speed to power and would try to exploit this.
Could any of these prospects fall to L.A.?
Of this group, I would surmise it to be Cody Mauch. I have a Round 3 grade on him, so I wouldn’t consider a #36 acquisition as great value. Realistically, all the others should have numerous early suitors.
I love the guard/tackle versatility of Peter Skoronski, Darnell Wright, and Matthew Bergeron. Each would a stellar addition, but this article is about tackles. Broderick Jones, Paris Johnson, and Anton Harrison all have the requisite size, length, and athleticism to be long-term NFL left tackles. And would look great in horns.