There was an opportunity to sign a center or draft the future line caller for the Los Angeles Rams during the offseason after losing Austin Blythe, but no move was made.
Then there was the hope among Ram fans that the team would draft, or sign, the eventual blindside replacement for aging left tackle Andrew Whitworth. No replacement was added.
Should Ram fans panic in scrutinizing the 2021 offensive line? Absolutely…Not.
The fact no significant free agent or draft moves were made shows the high level of confidence head coach Sean McVay and the Rams have in the 2021 starting trench unit. And while this unit now has Kevin Carberry coaching the line, this group looks like it still has loads of potential to make life easy for the new guy Matthew Stafford and the backfield of Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson and company.
Yet, there are still questions, notably the depth of this group. Here’s a closer look.
Whitworth and Havenstein an Underrated Duo
We often don’t talk about who the best tackle tandems are in the league, as the focus often goes toward wide receiver or running back duos on offense. But Whitworth and Rob Havenstein deserve acclaim for keeping edge rushers at bay.
Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus placed the pairing in the top 30 of the league’s best offensive tackles on July 15. Whitworth came in at No. 15 whereas Havenstein was plugged at No. 27. Among NFC West teams, only the San Francisco 49ers and the Rams have both of their tackles listed in the PFF rankings.
By the way, one of Havenstein’s strengths is opening up the screen game, proven here.
And he’s strong at staying on his blocks, shown on this play against Jamal Adams of the Seattle Seahawks.
How much is left out of the 16-year veteran Whitworth? The Rams likely hope he can pull off blocks like this pull block.
Or show his strength here.
Whitworth, though, hinted on the “Green Light” podcast with Chris Long on June 29 that 2021 feels like his last season. Again, the Rams opted not to draft or sign their LT of the future. But how does the rest of the tackle two-deep look?
Joe Noteboom is the top reserve. He filled in for “Whit” when he went down with his MCL/PCL injury and started nine games, surrendering two sacks in 633 snaps according to PFF. He also adds a left guard element.
The fourth tackle, though, is too be determined, with Bobby Evans projected to slide inside.
Corbett Spearheads the interior
With no center signed, all eyes will be on Austin Corbett.
Corbett has impressed the Rams with his guard play, but has taken snaps at center during 2021 OTA’s and is likely to be Blythe’s replacement in the middle. Third-year pro Coleman Shelton is anticipated to help solidify the two-deep at center.
Brian Allen won’t be ruled out at center either, especially if Corbett ends up staying at guard. Allen is entering his fourth season.
Third-year guard David Edwards started in 14 games last season. In 1,006 snaps, he only gave up three sacks per PFF analytics.
Once again, Evans could slide inside to add depth at guard. But the former Oklahoma Sooner has naturally been a tackle throughout his career. Treymayne Anchrum will look to complete the guard unit.
Will Faith in Trenches Work?
Overall, this is a group that has potential to surprise people. But a lot will hinge on the following: Whitworth’s full return from his injury, Corbett’s consistency and finally, how the guards gel.
This unit is already in a division with the 49ers’ loaded front line. Now, they’ll have to deal with J.J. Watt in Arizona along with a healthier Chandler Jones. Regardless, teams are going to throw an array of blitzes and stunts to test a Rams offensive line that looks similar to last year.
There’s high faith in this group given the lack of changes. Ram fans should give it a chance.