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Rams Roster Profile: What should the plan be for OT Joe Noteboom?

What should the Rams do with Joe Noteboom in 2023?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams OTA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In 2018, the Los Angeles Rams selected Joe Noteboom out of TCU to be the heir apparent to Andrew Whitworth. To the surprise of many, Whitworth continued playing for four more years, the entirety of Noteboom’s rookie contract.

The Rams experimented with Noteboom at guard in 2019, but a torn ACL and MCL in Week 6 ended his season. Noteboom filled in well at left tackle in spurts for Whitworth, but wasn’t apart of the starting five again until last season. Following Whitworth’s retirement, the Rams slotted Noteboom in at left tackle. Once again, in Week 6, Noteboom suffered a season ended injury — this time it was a torn achilles.

Between now and the Rams’ first preseason game, I’m going to preview approximately 45 players on the roster. The goal here will be to highlight players looking to take that next step in 2023 as well as players who will serve as key depth on the roster. I may expand into the occasional star or roster-bubble player, but for the most part we’ll be looking at the players who will truly make or break the Rams season.

Today, we’re looking at Joe Noteboom.

2022 Season in Review

Following Whitworth’s retirement, Noteboom entered the 2022 season as the starter at left tackle. His season was very up and down. In Week 1, Noteboom allowed eight pressures and the Rams immediately realized how much they were going to miss “Big Whit”.

Noteboom was solid in Weeks 2 and 3 before having another bad game against the San Francisco 49ers. His season ended in Week 6 with a torn achilles. In the first six weeks of the season, Noteboom’s 23 pressures allowed were the third-most among tackles in the NFL.

The Good/Best Case Scenario

Noteboom’s 2022 season is talked about negatively, however, some context is needed here. While he allowed 23 pressures and five sacks in six games, three of those sacks came against Von Miller and the Buffalo Bills and the other two came against Nick Bosa. Those are two of the best edge rushers in the NFL. It’s worth noting that 16 of his 23 pressures came in those two games as well.

Meanwhile, in the other three games, the Rams tackle allowed a combined seven pressures and zero sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, Noteboom was the 15th best tackle in Weeks 2, 3, and 5. He was one of 25 tackles during those three weeks not to allow a sack.

The Rams restructured Noteboom’s contract this offseason, showing a commitment to him for the next two seasons. In an ideal world, Noteboom is healthy and is able to play to his potential at left tackle.

The Bad/Worst Case Scenario

It’s extremely difficult to evaluate Noteboom. On one hand, he’s played well in spurts at left tackle, but hasn’t shown that he can play well consistently or that he can stay healthy. The best ability is availability. Coming off of a torn achilles, is playing tackle still in his future?

In eight career games at guard, Noteboom has just two games with a pass-blocking grade over 60 according to Pro Football Focus. In 17 career games at tackle, he has 15 such games. He is very clearly a better tackle than guard. The question is, with a compromised achilles, can he still play the tackle position that requires more mobility?

Noteboom has entered the season twice as a starter. In both seasons, he hasn’t made it past Week 6 without suffering a season-ending injury. When it comes to the offensive line, building cohesion and consistently is key. It’s hard to do that when a player in that group can’t stay healthy.

There are two worst case scenario for Noteboom this season. The first is that he enters the season as the starter at left tackle and his level drops due to his achilles injury. Additionally, it would be a worst case scenario if he once again has an injury that forces the Rams to shuffle the offensive line.

Biggest Question: What should the plan be for Joe Noteboom?

There are three realistic options for the Rams when it comes to Joe Noteboom:

  1. Start him at left tackle in Week 1.
  2. Move him to left guard following the achilles injury.
  3. Keep him as a versatile depth piece on the left side.

An argument could be made that Noteboom is the best player suited to play left tackle on the Rams. However, nobody truly knows how his ankle is going to react following his torn achilles. Is he the same player that he was in the NFC Championship game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or will he have limited movement?

If he does have limited movement, the best thing might be to move him inside. However, left guard might be better suited for Steve Avila as he played there last season at TCU. Noteboom also has shown that he’s a better tackle than guard.

The last option may be the best option and that’s to keep Noteboom as a depth piece. The Rams are only paying Noteboom $6.5M in 2023. At that price tag, it’s not the worst thing to keep him as depth and as a “sixth” offensive lineman who can fill in at left tackle or left guard. This would also allow Noteboom’s achilles injury to fully heal this season before his cap-hit raises to $20M in 2024.

Roster Battle

The roster battles along the offensive line are going to be interesting to watch this offseason as the Rams search for their best five. At left tackle, the options are likely Noteboom, Alaric Jackson, and Tremayne Anchrum. If Noteboom were to play at guard, the Rams would be looking at Avila, Jackson, and Anchrum at that spot as well.

Nothing will be guaranteed for Noteboom this offseason. Coming off of an injury, he’ll need to prove that he deserves a starting role on the offensive line.

2023 Outlook and What to Expect

This is another big year for Noteboom. He needs to be able to prove that if he’s given a starting role that he can be someone who can be relied on. Throughout his career, that hasn’t necessarily been the case due to injury. The best ability sometimes is availability and that fact is, when entering the season as a starter, Noteboom hasn’t lasted past Week 6.

Coming off of the torn achilles, the Rams will likely be working him in slowly. Because of this, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jackson or Anchrum earn a spot as the starting left tackle. While Noteboom gets his strength back, keeping him as depth might be a good thing for both sides.

Chances of Making Final Roster

The Rams had the opportunity to cut Noteboom this offseason and instead chose to restructure him. With the dead cap implications, they’ve committed to him through 2024. Noteboom may not be a starting player on the offensive line, but he will most certainly be on the roster.

Final Roster Confidence: 10/10