For the Los Angeles Rams to shed the memories of their 32nd ranking on offense in 2022 and aim to recapture their Super Bowl winning form, changes are expected to be made especially in one of the more important areas of their scheme.
It’s not running back, wide receiver or anyone behind center. It’s the center position for the Rams.
Pro Football Focus mentioned one suggestion to the Rams as they unveiled their listings of “one free agent on offense each team should pursue.” And at the urging of Brad Spielberger of PFF on Sunday, January 16, he calls for the Rams to go after 2023 free agent center Ethan Pocic of the Cleveland Browns.
Pocic’s Background & Past Dominance
Pocic, 27, was once on an entry level four-year, $4.4 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks. But at Cleveland, he was on a one year deal that paid him close to $1.2 million and is now a unrestricted free agent come March.
Spielberger cited injuries at center as one reason to give Pocic a look if you’re the Rams.
“Current Rams center Brian Allen has struggled with major injuries throughout his career, and a series of smaller but nevertheless limiting injuries in 2022 once again kept him off the field for lengthy stretches of the season,” Spielberger wrote. “As good as Allen can be when healthy, and despite the fact he just signed a three-year contract last offseason, the Rams can get out of his deal fairly cleanly and probably should look for a more reliable option to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford.”
Allen ended up sharing duties with Coleman Shelton and practice squad member Jeremiah Kolone in the middle of the Rams’ offensive line. While Allen has two more years on his deal, Kolone’s deal has one more year left of his $1,575,000 deal with the team. Shelton, who swings between center and guard, doesn’t become an unrestricted free agent until 2024 and is due for a base salary of $1,250,000 in 2023.
Pocic began his NFL tenure as a Pro Football Writer’s Association (PFWA) All-Rookie selection in 2017. The 6-foot-6, 309-pounder may not be a household name as a free agent, or has even witnessed his first Pro Bowl nod. However, he’s proven to be reliable when the Browns needed open lanes in the ground game.
“Pocic had a breakout 2022 season in Cleveland, a similar offense to the Rams’ predicated on a wide-zone rushing attack. Pocic’s 79.0 grade in 2022 ranked third among centers, with his 94.2 run-blocking grade on outside zone runs placing second,” Spielberger writes. “Los Angeles can solidify its interior here while getting healthy at other spots.”
His situation will be similar to what a former teammate of his walked into when he became a Ram: Baker Mayfield.
Rams Defender is Highest Graded Free Agent by PFF
Meanwhile, the Rams face a decision to make with 2019 second rounder Taylor Rapp.
Pro Football Focus called the safety the Rams’ highest graded free agent for the upcoming 2023 cycle, grading him at 76.2 this season.
Rapp had a base salary of $2,540,000 this past season and is among the unrestricted free agents this spring. While with the Rams, he delivered 330 career tackles, 216 solo stops, nine interceptions and eight tackles for a loss. He finished with 92 tackles, 58 solo tackles, six pass deflections and two interceptions in 2022.