One of the biggest criticisms of the Los Angeles Rams offensive line over the past few years is how light of a group that they’ve been. Due to the zone-blocking scheme of the Sean McVay offense, the Rams have typically targeted lighter offensive linemen as it’s easier for these players to move in space.
Up until this past offseason, the Rams hadn’t drafted a single offensive lineman heavier than 320-pounds. The heaviest player that they drafted was Jamil Demby at 319-pounds and they selected him in 2018 in the sixth-round.
Now, Being a heavier offensive line, doesn’t guarantee success and being a light offensive line doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get pushed around. For example, in almost half of McVay’s seasons, they’ve had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
Additionally, while the Philadelphia Eagles have an average weight on their offensive line of 319-pounds, Jordan Mailata is a huge outlier. At 366 pounds, he’s 30-pounds heaver than any player on that offensive line. Their average from last year drops from 319-pounds to 311-pounds if Mailata weighs even 330-pounds which is considered heavy. The Eagles are considered the best offensive line in football and only two of their offensive linemen last year weighed over 320-pounds.
With that said, this offseason the Rams have seemingly put an emphasis on getting bigger up-front in order to protect Matthew Stafford and get better in the run game. Look no further than who they drafted with the 36th overall pick as they selected TCU offensive lineman, Steve Avila. Avila weighed in at 332-pounds, making him by far the heaviest offensive lineman drafted in the McVay era.
It was because of this that I didn’t peg Avila as a fit in my “Snead’s Snack’s” series prior to the draft. Players like Braeden Daniels and Ricky Stromberg seemed to fit the mold as versatile players with quick feet and just under 310-pounds. In retrospect, Avila fit that mold outside of his weight which was a significant change from past draft selections.
The Rams did change offensive line coaches this offseason. Kevin Carberry wasn’t brought back and instead, the Rams hired Ryan Wendell who served as an assistant to Aaron Kromer last season with the Buffalo Bills. Kromer was the offensive line coach for the Rams before Carberry. Not that Wendell had much say in personnel, but it’s worth noting that last season the Bills had two starting offensive linemen heavier than 320-pounds and had an average weight of 312-pounds.
This is Wendell’s first time as the offensive line coach of a team after serving as an assistant for four years. It appears he is already having an impact on the type of offensive line that he wants to build.
Let’s assume that the Week 1 starters are:
- LT Alaric Jackson
- LG Steve Avila
- C Coleman Shelton
- RG Tremayne Anchrum
- RT Rob Havenstein
The would give the projected Week 1 starters an average weight of 316-pounds. Comparatively, the average weight of the 2022 starters were just 306-pounds. Now, obviously Avila has a huge impact here. However, Anchrum at 314-pounds is one of just four guards that the Rams have drafted that weighed over 310-pounds. Additionally, Jackson at 321-pounds effects that average as well.
Just looking at the potential three changes at left tackle, left guard, and right guard with Jackson, Avila, and Anchrum there is a significant difference. At those positions, the Rams are adding 58-pounds or an average of 19.8-pounds per position. Two of those positions are on the interior where the Rams have gotten pushed around in recent years.
With this change on the offensive line, it will be interesting to see how it effects the run game and if there are more “gap scheme” runs in combination with the typical “zone” runs in the McVay system. We started to see a huge uptick in this last season. In 2022, 49 percent of runs from the Rams were considered “gap” according to Pro Football Focus. This was a 17 percent increase from 2021 and the most in the McVay era.
Obviously, a lot of this is irrelevant if Brian Allen wins the job at center and Coleman Shelton plays at right guard. This would keep the Rams offensive line relatively light and in-line with what it has been in years past. Even if that is the case, this will still be a situation worth monitoring as the Rams look to re-build the offensive line.