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Rams roster profile: Does Brian Allen have a starting role at center?

Will Brian Allen start at center for the Rams in 2023?

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

One of the most important things for the Los Angeles Rams to figure out this offseason will be the offensive line. Their success in the 2023 season will be dependent on it. Following a disastrous 2022 in which the offensive line suffered injuries left and right, it’s critical that the Rams get their starting five right as well as the depth behind them.

When it comes to the offensive line, a player that has a lot of question marks surrounding them, is center Brian Allen. Allen had a strong 2021, but missed significant time for the second time in his career last season. The Rams did restructure his contract, but there are serious questions on what his role will be in 2023.

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 Brian Allen.

2022 Season in Review

Allen played in seven games last year, but only had two snaps against the Green Bay Packers before eventually leaving the field due to injury, ending his season. The Rams center started Week 1, but due to injury, didn’t play again until Week 8. Following a stretch of three games, he once again missed time before returning in Week 13. After just two snaps agains the Packers in Week 15, Allen’s season was done.

It’s difficult to know exactly what to think of Allen’s 2022. In one sense, he was injured and that certainly effected his level even in the games that he did play. With the amount of turnover on the offensive line, there was no cohesion next to Allen at the two guard spots. Still, Allen allowed four sacks according to Pro Football Focus which was the most for any player with less than 400 snaps. His pass-blocking grade was the ninth-worst among centers. Allen only allowed nine pressures which were the second least in the NFL, but his 2022 season was still below standard.

The Good/Best Case Scenario

Allen’s 2022 season left a sour taste in the mouth of many in the fanbase. He’s gotten some fair and some unfair criticism for how he played. It’s hard to say that there isn’t some recency bias in play here. During 2021, Allen was the fifth-best center according to Pro Football Focus and his run blocking grade ranked fourth. The Rams don’t win the Super Bowl without Allen.

At the end of the day, Allen is the most-experienced center on the roster and he’s shown that he can play at a high level. As a best case scenario, Allen remains healthy in the 2023 season and gets back to playing at the level that he’s shown in the past. The Rams need a stable force at center and Allen has to provide that.

The Bad/Worst Case Scenario

The best ability sometimes is availability and let’s be honest, Allen hasn’t been available very often. Allen has entered the season as the starter on three occasions. In two of those years he missed significant time. Even in 2021, he left two games due to injury. Additionally, he’s been a liability at times in pass protection. Allen gave up four sacks last year which was the most for any player with less than 400 snaps. Even in 2021, his five sacks allowed were the most among centers and he gave up 12 pressures which was middle of the league.

When it comes to Allen, the worst case scenario for him is that he once again gets hurt early in the season. This puts the Rams at an immediate disadvantage as the musical chairs on the offensive line begins. That’s what makes Allen such a risk to start on day one. On one hand, he’s shown he can play well. Contrarily, his injury history makes him a risk to start.

Biggest Question: Does Brian Allen have a starting role at center?

Unlike last year, the Rams do have options at center in 2023. Coleman Shelton is someone who could start and the Rams could feel comfortable with it. Steve Avila also has two years of center experience at TCU.

It will be interesting to see what the Rams do at center. It's likely going to come down to Allen or Shelton. With Shelton’s versatility at guard, starting the season with Allen at center may end up being the route that makes the most sense. The health is a big question for Allen, but this is also a player that the Rams have had some success with.

Roster Battle

Allen’s competition will come on the depth chart rather than for a roster spot in general. As previously mentioned, his starting role isn't a guarantee. There may be a competition here with Shelton and Avila. It’s going to come down to who the Rams feel can be a stable presence in the middle of the offensive line.

That stable presence is something that Allen brought in 2021. Allen will have had time to get healthy which is something that he didn’t have last year coming off of the shortened offseason with the Super Bowl.

2023 Outlook and What to Expect

It’s hard to know what to expect when it comes to Allen in 2023. Even when he did play last season, it wasn’t very good. It’s fair to note the circumstances around that, however. At the end of the day, the most important thing for Allen is to stay healthy. If he can stay healthy, he can be the starting center.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Allen began the year as the starting center. However, if he gets hurt, it also wouldn’t be surprising if Allen didn’t get it back like he did last year. With a new offensive line coach, the leash on Allen may be shorter than it has been in the past.

Chances of Making Final Roster

It would be a shock if the Rams cut Allen, especially after just restructuring his contract. Even if Allen doesn’t start, he at least provides good depth.

Final Roster Confidence: 10/10