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Could new Rams offensive lineman make an Austin Corbett-like impact?

Will Kevin Dotson have an Austin Corbett-like impact on the Rams offensive line?

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams general manager, Les Snead, worked his magic on the trade market once again on Sunday evening. The Rams traded for Pittsburgh Steelers guard and 2021 fourth-round pick, Kevin Dotson.

It’s not the first time that Snead and the Rams have taken a chance on an AFC North team’s draft pick that has fallen out of favor. In 2019, the Rams traded for former Cleveland Browns second-round pick, Austin Corbett.

While Dotson doesn’t have the same pedigree as Corbett, that doesn’t mean that a change of scenery won't help him or that he can’t or won’t make an impact on the Rams. It’s a low risk move for the Rams that only has upside. At the very least, Dotson gives Los Angeles depth on the offensive line at a position where they desperately need it. Worst case scenario, the Rams move on from Dotson after this year when he’s a free agent.

Alex Kozora of The Steelers Depot wrote on Dotson,

“On paper, he looks like a lineman you want. He’s big, physical, not a bad athlete and generally pretty available...When everything went right, Dotson was a starting-caliber guard. Of course, it often went all wrong. There were the obvious. The penalties, a team-high 10 of them last season. But that’s not scheme related. Penalties are bad no matter what the coaching points are...Last year, we dubbed him as the “most frustrating Steeler...He had talent, he had potential; it wouldn’t be realized in this system. It’s why the Steelers went out and signed Isaac Seumalo, they added depth in Nate Herbig. That was the writing on the wall and made Dotson the team’s most logical trade pieces of the summer.”

The trade for Corbett back in 2019 was a turning point for an offensive line that in turmoil. Corbett wasn’t a schematic fit in Cleveland at the time. The same could be said about Dotson in Pittsburgh. In Los Angeles, Dotson will be allowed to be active in the run game, as the Rams look to incorporate more gap scheme runs in the offense.

To say that the current status of the Rams offensive line is turmoil would be an understatement. With the preseason concluded, there remains no clarity on the starting five offensive linemen. Most of Dotson’s NFL experience comes at left guard. He played 1,100 snaps there last season, but that’s where the Rams are playing rookie Steve Avila. However, Dotson played 189 snaps at right guard as a rookie and was a right guard his entire collegiate career with over 3,000 snaps on the right side.

Throughout his NFL career, Dotson has been much more productive in pass protection. His 77.6 pass-blocking grade via Pro Football Focus ranked 10th among guards in 2022 with at least 500 snaps. Dotson’s 16 pressures allowed also ranked 15th and was just one more than Corbett. This was while dealing with a shoulder injury. He hasn’t made as much of impact in the run game, but the schematic fit wasn't there in Pittsburgh either.

The move for Dotson is possibly just an insurance move at right guard. If Coleman Shelton is the team’s starting center, that leaves the Rams with Tremayne Anchrum as the only player with experience at right guard. With Bruss moving to right tackle and then swing tackle combined with Noteboom’s injury, the Rams lacked depth and experience at right guard.

At the same time, the Rams have two weeks between now and Week 1. That’s plenty of time to get Dotson up to speed and potentially start him if that’s what head coach Sean McVay wants to do.

One last thing that’s worth noting Dotson’s size. As I wrote earlier this offseason, the Rams appear to be changing the “type” of offensive linemen that they’re looking for and look to be getting bigger up-front. In the McVay-Snead era, the Rams had only drafted three guards heavier than 310-pounds. Those players are Tremayne Anchrum, Bobby Evans, and Jamil Demby. Just this offseason, the Rams drafted Steve Avila and 330-pounds. Dotson is exactly 321-pounds.

Will Dotson have the same impact as Corbett did in 2019? That’s a pretty high bar and not something that should be expected. Dotson was a flawed player in Pittsburgh, but for pick swaps, it’s type of move that could end up paying dividends for the Rams. At the very least, Dotson provides depth at a position where the Rams desperately needed it.