There are two schools of thought when it comes to the way fans think the Los Angeles Rams should draft their offensive. A big, boisterous cadre want behemoth’s who maul and pound defenders into submission. A smaller, but just as locked in group, wants L.A. to stay true to the zone run system and find prospects with footwork and move skills. The offensive lineman prospects that I have Round 3 and 4 grades on feature two brutes and four smooth movers.
Even though fans like the big uglies, the truth is, the Rams current offensive linemen are just not that small when compared to NFL height/weight averages. The median size of pro tackles is 6” 6” 317 lbs., for guards it’s a little over 6’ 4” 315 lbs., and centers measure in at shade under 6’ 4” 309 lbs.
The prospects in Rounds 3 and 4, excepting one, all come in under the NFL average. Should a few pounds be considered enough to put the kibosh on a mid-round prospects selection? Let’s meet the candidates and decide.
Have a look at Rounds 1 and 2 for more context.
Dawand Jones, Ohio State - 6’ 8” / 374 lbs. / 11 5/8” hands / 36 3/8” arms @ NFL Combine (6.32, #58)
Two-year starter who will turn 22 in training camp. Has stellar knock back power and shows decent footwork for such a large human. Agility and lateral movement in confined areas. Knows how to use his length and clamp onto defenders. Overall, a good pass blocker, but my biggest knock is that he often plays too high and doesn’t set a wide base. He gets a little top heavy forcing balance issues. In the pro’s, every edge player will try to exploit that.
Blake Freeland, BYU - 6’ 8” / 302 lbs. / 10” hands / 33 7/8” arms @ NFL Combine (6.14, #121)
Started 41 of 44 career games and turns 23 in May. Tall and lean with tremendous athletic upside. To prevent being limited to a finesse/outside zone scheme, will need play strength work. With that mobility, he makes all the movement blocks, pulls, reaches, and climbs. Looks adequate as a pass blocker, although he seems to struggle reacting to inside counter moves. At the Senior Bowl, he did himself no favors and was disappointing at times against better competition.
Blake Freeland vs Thomas Incoom pic.twitter.com/YiRK2RL1CB— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) January 31, 2023
Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland - 6’ 6” / 306 lbs. / 9 1/4” hands / 33 5/8” arms @ NFL Combine (6.00, #146)
Long-tenured Terp starter, 41 of 42 games. Turns 23 in July. Normally, a prospect improves with each college season, Duncan still pretty much remains a work in progress with an athletic upside. He has good move skills and footwork, yet lacks the physical and aggressive nature you want in an early draft pick. Fits best into a finesse/outside zone scheme. Much of his technical lacking can be fixed with coaching and hard work, but his lack of menace keeps him in the “potential” grouping.
Asim Richards, North Carolina - 6’ 4” / 309 lbs. / 10” hands / 34” arms @ NFL Combine (6.15, #118)
Played in every Tarheel game over his four seasons, with 38 starts. Played left tackle, for a pass-centric scheme and got snaps at guard during Senior Bowl workouts. Not a gifted athlete, but moves efficiently. Uses choppy steps and a wide base to mirror in pass pro and has a good anchor. Good power in run game. His film has improved each college year, a testament to his willingness to work at his craft.
Braeden Daniels, Utah - 6’ 4” / 294 lbs. / 9 3/8” hands / 33” arms @ NFL Combine (6.14, #122)
Brings versatility with 18 starts at left guard, 14 at left tackle, and 11 at right tackle. On the small side, his lack of play strength makes him more of a turn and seal blocker than a power driver. Stellar athlete, he shows good footwork and has the speed to make all the move blocks. Plays patient and under control and punches well, but does not appear to have the latch on strength to clamp down and torque defenders. Needs mass or he might be limited to a move-based run scheme as a pro. Good pass blocker.
March 24, 2023
Carter Warren, Pittsburgh - 6’ 5 1/2” / 311 lbs. / 9 1/8” hands / 35 3/8” arms @ NFL Combine (6.16, #114)
Suffered an MCL tear last October and has not yet worked out in draft process. Recently turned 24 and started 39 contests at left tackle for Pitt. Stellar pass protector who knows how ply to his length to advantage and uses both independent and two-hand punch on a strong, wide base/anchor. In the run game, Warren needs lower body strength work and to improve his knee bend, staying low for better leverage and drive. Right now, he is more of a seal blocker, locking up with his length and strong punch. Not an elite athlete but does have good footwork. Needs a pro strength and conditioning program.
Any value in this group?
Yes, particularly the Round 4 prospects, Richards and Warren, who could challenge for play time right away. They could all very easily be around late in the late fourth and early fifth rounds. All three are good pass blockers and have the move skills to be successful in the zone run game. And there is good reason to think L.A. will move away from last year’s mid and inside zone rush attack.
Watching replays of The New York Jets offense from 2022, they ran a lot of outside zone and some of the same split zone that the Rams used. If new Offensive Coordinator Mike La Fleur has the same influence on the rush game outgoing Liam Coen had, L.A. could/should revert back to the outside scheme. And why not? LaFleur came to the Rams via the Jets, after spending seven years with outside zone devotee, Kyle Shanahan, late of the San Francisco 49ers.
The Round 3 group are all likely to go earlier than where I have them graded, if the consensus of draft pundits are correct. Freeland and Duncan appear as needing play strength and development. Jones is a manimal and is adept in both the pass and run game. Likely best in a downhill power run game. Just forcing pass rushers to run around his size and length would give a quick pass offense more than enough time. But he would need balance and base work to counter his top-heaviness in the Rams longer developing pass plays.
A new line coach and some new mid-round draft blood, could spark competition and fire for a group that was beleaguered in 2022.