A lot of media are quick to credit the Los Angeles Rams success from 2017-2021 because of Sean McVay’s brilliance. They are not wrong for thinking that, but what is often overlooked is the players on the field. And the 2017-2021 LA Rams would not have been who they were without left tackle, Andrew Whitworth.
The Rams are finishing out their first week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) at Cal Lutheran, their Thousand Oaks facility. A large percentage of this time is for Sean McVay and the coaching staff is to get the team, particularly rookies and new players, up to speed on the way their practices will be run. In addition, Sean McVay and Raheem Morris use this time to begin the installation of their offensive and defensive packages for the 2023 season.
Other position battles:
Position Battle #4: Left Tackle
Since Big Whit retired after Super Bowl LVI, the team has used four left tackles in 17 games: Joe Noteboom (6 games) Alaric Jackson (3), Ty Nsekhe (7), and AJ Arcuri (1). Noteboom suffered an Achilles tendon rupture in Week 6 vs. Carolina. Jackson was shut down for the season after he was diagnosed with blood clots following Week 10. And Ty Nsekhe missed one game because of an ankle injury. The rotation at left tackle was not an ideal scenario for the league’s worst offense, let alone any offense in the NFL.
The Rams handed the keys to Matthew Stafford’s blind side to Joe Noteboom following Whitworth’s retirement. The team retained the TCU product by handing him a three year $47.5 million deal in March of 2022. But in Week 1 of the season, the Buffalo Bills defense led by former teammate Von Miller torched the Rams for seven sacks. Noteboom surrendered three of them. In his next five games prior to his injury, Noteboom did little to erase his poor start.
Alaric Jackson filled in for Noteboom and along other parts of the injured OLine throughout the season and actually did a respectable job. But a health scare shut him down. The Rams have valued Jackson’s presence on the roster after being acquired as an undrafted free agent in 2021. In his limited playing time, he has shown strength and poise against starting defenses. Which begs the question? Do the Rams need to take a second look at left tackle with the emergence of AJ Jackson?
Noteboom is coming off his second season-ending injury, having suffered an ACL tear in 2019. Noteboom doesn’t possess any elite traits and Jackson is arguably stronger.
But is Sean McVay bold enough to bench his fifth year veteran in favor of a third year UDFA?
Standing at 6’7”, Jackson has an ideal frame for left tackle. And with the Rams adding more size to offensive line (Steve Avila), the OL could become more than just a positional blocking team - it could have the ability to drive defenders off the ball. It would be nice to see Jackson clean up his weight a little as Rams media and fans have noted his midsection. But Jackson has not been shy about his standing as one of the best lineman on the team, sharing his thoughts after the 2022 season.
It’s hard to imagine the Rams giving up on Noteboom, but his restructured deal suggests that they need to see improved on field performance and results for their investment.
Who will win the left tackle job?
This poll is closed