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Which running backs in the draft could succeed with Rams offensive line?

Which running backs in the draft perform independent of their offensive line?

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Tulane at Southern California Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The running back position is one of the most difficult positions to evaluate in the NFL draft. A lot of this is because running backs are severely dependent on their situations whether that be scheme, the threat of the passing game, or the offensive line.

With a need for running back depth behind Cam Akers and Kyren Williams, this is something that the Rams will need to keep in mind. Last season, the Rams had an average-below average run-blocking offensive line, ranking 15th in adjusted line yards according to Football Outsiders and had the 19th best run-block grade according to Pro Football Focus.

While the Rams run-blocking and rushing success improved towards the end of the year, it will still be important for them to find a running back who can have success independent of the offensive line.

When looking at this year’s class and the PFF grades of their offensive lines, Mohamed Ibrahim from Minnesota, UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet, and Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh all played behind offensive lines with 80+ run-blocking grades.

Meanwhile, running backs like Tyjae Spears from Tulane, Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson out of Texas, and Auburn’s Tank Bigsby all played behind average-below average offensive lines.

Taking into account just designed runs, Ibrahim, McIntosh, and Charbonnet once again seemed to benefit from playing behind good-blocking from their offensive lines. Again, it was Spears and Pitt’s Israel Abandikanda who had offensive lines that ranked near the bottom.

Having success behind a good offensive line or bad offensive line doesn’t necessarily translate to success in the NFL. However, finding a running back who is able to create on their own and more adept at playing behind a poor offensive line could set them up for success on a NFL team in a similar situation.

A running back who is used to playing behind a top offensive line in college may struggle more to adjust initially if put into a poor situation in the NFL.

The best way for the Rams to improve the run game would be to improve the offensive line. However, drafting a running back who is best fit to succeed in their situation could also be beneficial.