If the Los Angeles Rams are going to turn things around next season, it’s going to need to start on the offensive line. Even if the Rams put out average talent outside of Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, a good offensive line will help the lesser players around them as it did in 2021.
Below are five players on the offensive line in the 2023 NFL Draft who could shift the current trajectory of the offensive line and give the Rams some building blocks moving forward.
1. iOL O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
The Rams need to get better on the interior of the offensive line. Out of the 183 pressures allowed by the offensive line last season, 105 of those came from the interior.
Coleman Shelton was brought back and should be the starting center or provide depth behind Brian Allen. The Rams did draft Logan Bruss last season, but coming off of an injury and after looking overwhelmed in the preseason last year, it may be best to continue developing him.
By drafting Torrence, the Rams could have an interior of:
- Alaric Jackson-Coleman Shelton-O’Cyrus Torrence
That would be a significant upgrade over what the Rams currently have at the position.
o'cyrus torrence (RG, #54) is one of my favorite players in this years class. tank on the interior, think he's a plug and play guy from day 1. explosiveness/torque through first contact is one of the first things i look for in all trench prospects and he's got it man pic.twitter.com/A4XTXNFGEa— charles (“you look good” - andy reid) mcdonald (@FourVerts) April 7, 2023
Torrence would immediately help in the run game as well as providing interior protection for Matthew Stafford. However, most importantly, he would provide consistency where the Rams had none last season.
2. OT Blake Freeland - BYU
Blake Freeland might be the biggest boom or bust offensive lineman in the draft. There’s no doubt that the physical tools and raw athleticism are there. He allowed just one sack in three years at BYU.
If Freeland lives up to his potential, he has the physical tools and athleticism of a Joe Thomas or Lane Johnson. That’s a player who completely shifts the trajectory of an offensive line. When the Rams signed Andrew Whitworth, it helped turn the Rams offensive line into one of the worst immediately into one of the best.
The issue is getting Freeland to play up to his athleticism. Les Snead has made this mistake with a player like Greg Robinson who had the physical tools, but never played up to those. As a potential third-round pick, Freeland poises a lot less risk, but huge reward.
3. iOL John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
This is an obvious one, but it’s impossible to leave out John Michael Schmitz. He’s by far the best center in the draft and very well could go in the first round. Still, if he falls to 36, he would certainly have to be under consideration.
The Rams had three players last season take more than 180 snaps at center. Brian Allen has played well when healthy, but his injury risk is a liability, especially when it comes to building consistency on the offensive line.
Schmitz could come in and immediately start at center, leaving Coleman Shelton or Logan Bruss at right guard. While this draft is deep at center, Schmitz is worth taking early rather than waiting until later on.
As mentioned earlier, the Rams need to solidify the interior of their offensive line. That starts with someone like Schmitz at center.
4. OT Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland
One of the biggest mistake of the Les Snead era with the Rams is allowing Rodger Saffold to walk in free agency. The Rams have been attempting to fill the left guard position ever since. David Edwards played well, but now he’s also gone after dealing with concussions last season.
What a better way to replace Saffold than with someone who’s athletically build just like him?
Duncan is projected to be drafted in the second-round, much like Rodger Saffold was in 2010. Once again, the Rams sit atop the second-round with the 36th overall pick. Duncan played four years at left tackle at Maryland, but could move inside to play guard on the left side.
This would give the Rams some versatility to decide what they wanted to do on the left side whether that’s play Jackson at tackle or guard and then use Noteboom as a swing tackle as he recovers from injury.
5. OT Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse
There’s a common theme here with these five players and it follows a similar theme as 2017. The Rams must solidify the left tackle position and the interior. In 2017, they accomplished that with John Sullivan and Andrew Whitworth. This year, that will need to be done through the draft.
At the end of the day, the Rams need to give themselves some options on the left side, as well as build some consistency. That’s exactly what drafting a player like Matthew Bergeron would do.
Went back to watch more of #Syracuse LT Matthew Bergeron and I’ve come away more and more impressed with his foot speed, grip strength and ability to reset his hands.— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) March 11, 2023
Athleticism was always apparent but he’s got a strong punch and quick hands to recover. pic.twitter.com/Yl2hMqhIKH
Bergeron could play either left tackle or left guard, depending on where the Rams wanted to place Jackson. The Syracuse product is a reliable player and the Rams didn’t have a lot of those on the offensive line last season.