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Former Rams top pick is changing positions and it might be the correct move

The Rams are moving Logan Bruss to right tackle and it might be the best move for him.

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NFL: Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the bigger stories on the offensive line last week during training camp was that Los Angeles Rams former top-pick, Logan Bruss, was moving from guard to tackle. This came as a minor surprise as the Rams worked Bruss at guard as a rookie before he got hurt and seemed to have plans for him at that spot when he was drafted.

This just adds to some of the growing frustration surrounding Bruss. The team talked him up as a starter after they drafted him. Post-draft, head coach Sean McVay said about Bruss,

“Bruss is going to be a guy who comes in and immediately continues to compete and raise the standards in that room. He’s our kind of guy. He’s gonna come in immediately and compete to start at right guard.”

In the team’s Inside the Draft series, McVay said before drafting Bruss at 104, “We need this lineman. We need a starter.”

To say that it hasn’t worked out like that would be an understatement. While they were just preseason snaps, he played the first two games before tearing his ACL and MCL against the Houston Texans. In those games he graded as the worst guard in pass protection according to Pro Football Focus as he gave up five pressures at right guard.

Had Bruss remained healthy, there’s no guarantee that he would have even started at right guard in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills. Just one year later, the Rams have shifted their approach and are now playing him at right tackle.

From the outside, this looks like a seemingly last-ditch effort to correct Bruss’ developmental path. Said McVay,

“He had played 17% of his snaps at guard at Wisconsin, but 83% of them at tackle and he looks more comfortable out there. I think that’s probably where he’ll stay for now. He can always potentially jump inside...I think it was important to be able to tackle some good days and he’s got a good look in his eye. I think he’s really comfortable outside at that tackle position. Does that mean he’ll never play guard again? We might be forced into adjusting that, but I think right now being able to keep him at tackle and continue to figure out what’s going to be that best combination.”

Calling Bruss a wasted pick at this stage might be a little over the top. It’s hard to fault the Rams for selecting him in the first place. He was a good fit for what they target on the offensive line even though he was a little taller than they like at 6’5. However, Bruss was a three year starter as Wisconsin with guard-tackle versatility. His scores in the three-cone and short shuttle were both near the 80th percentile, showing off his quick feet which the Rams also value.

With Bruss, there are also a few things worth noting. For starters, he was the 104th overall pick. This wasn’t someone like Steve Avila who was taken 36th overall. Bruss wasn’t even drafted in the top-100.

However, because he was technically the Rams’ top pick in 2022, the expectations seem to be higher. The Rams may be partially to blame for this by calling Bruss someone who would “come in immediately and compete to start at right guard.”

It should be well-known at this point that the draft is extremely random, especially outside the top-100. Finding a contributor, let alone a day-one plug-and-play starter doesn’t happen often. Last season, 10 rookie guards played more than 200 snaps. Out of those 10, only three of them were drafted after Bruss — Cordell Volson who was taken at 136 by the Cincinnati Bengals, the San Francisco 49ers took Spencer Burford at 136, and Lecitus Smith was taken at pick 215 by the Arizona Cardinals.

Out of those three players, Volson had the highest grade on Pro Football Focus with a 51.6.

You could make an argument that the Rams should have drafted Zach Tom who was taken by the Green Bay Packers at 140. Even then, Tom was drafted as a guard, but played 379 of his 489 snaps at tackle as a rookie.

The overall point here is, it’s very difficult to find starting caliber players at that point in the draft. If Bruss only ends up being a depth player, that shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing. The thing that the Rams lacked most on the offensive line last season was depth. It also seems premature to label Bruss as a “bust” or “wasted pick” considering all we’ve seen to this point are preseason snaps.

It makes more sense for the Rams to move Bruss to his more natural position where he’s more comfortable, especially coming off of a major injury, than to try to continue to force him into a box. At Wisconsin, Bruss played over 1500 career snaps at right tackle. In 2021, among tackles with at least 600 snaps, Bruss was the 23rd best tackle in the country according to Pro Football Focus. Contrarily, the year before, he graded as just the 35th best guard.

As The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue notes,

Bruss’ history at tackle means that he doesn’t have to hesitate as much in live action, or overthink things, especially coming off a major injury — even while he is still getting challenged to develop at the position at the NFL level. It’s not exactly a “comfort zone,” but it’s not inviting needless barriers into a player’s development.

Bruss is a perfect example of why you can’t just simply move a college tackle to guard in the NFL. It’s fair to project players there, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll find success. Some tend to believe that this position switch on the offensive line should be easy. As former offensive linemen Geoff Schwartz explained in 2019,

According to social media, switching from tackle to guard is the “easy” solution for a tackle who’s struggling. Not so fast my friend. If an offensive tackle has good hands, generally has good movement skills but might lack some foot quickness to play tackle, then moving inside could be productive. If an offensive tackle is struggling with his strike and punch location, plus has bad feet, then moving inside is a no-go. Things happen fast at guard. Your hands must be ready for action now. And if you miss with your hands, your base better be good so you’re able to recover. So in short, moving a struggling OT to OG isn’t easy, and it’s rarely the solution.

Bruss had some college experience at guard which could be seen as a good thing. However, making that switch in the NFL still has its complications. It’s not always a guarantee. Again, if Bruss is more comfortable at tackle, then that’s where the Rams should play him even if it goes against the initial plan.

The important thing here is that the Rams have been open to adjusting that plan and putting Bruss in position to succeed. Moving the 2022 third-round pick may not have been what the Rams initially hoped for, but at this point it may end up being the right move going forward.