Can any team loaded on superstar talent really have that one “secret superstar” on their roster? Including a team stockpiled in stardom like the Los Angeles Rams?
Turns out every team according to Pro Football Focus, including the defending Super Bowl champs, has that one “secret superstar” as noted by PFF writer Sam Monson on Wednesday, July 27. But this representative is a Rams starter who had to fight back from what was called “an ugly 2019 season” and is now one of the key cornerstones of what the Rams want to accomplish in 2022.
Who is this “secret superstar” inside the “Rams House?” Let’s just say — he’s going to play a pivotal role in helping out Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay ignite this offensive juggernaut with his hands and feet.
Veteran & ‘Steadfast Performer’ Called the ‘Secret Superstar’
As star-oriented the Rams are, it’s right tackle Rob Havenstein who received the PFF label of “secret superstar” by the national analytics website.
Why was the label given to the towering 6-foot-8, 330-pounder? Monson pointed out how he’s been this “steadfast performer” after a dismal 2019 campaign.
“Havenstein suffered through an ugly 2019 season, likely due to injury, but outside of that year has been a steadfast performer at right tackle for the Rams,” Monson wrote.
In tracing back to that 2019 campaign Monson was referring to, that was the season the former Wisconsin Badger lineman was limited to nine games. He was dealing with a knee ailment that season. His injury also snapped a 25-game starter streak that ended on November 17, 2019 as he was declared inactive versus the Chicago Bears. Before that, Havenstein was on the field when the Rams started the season 3-0 before losing their next three games.
Per PFF, Havenstein accounted for 616 offensive snaps that season but his overall grades in running blocking were rated at 53.8 and his pass block grade stood at 51.1…ultimately giving him an overall PFF grade of 50.9.
But since then, Havenstein has established himself as one of the more underrated Ram performers…who will soon play an even more integral role on the champs with a certain All-Pro no longer starting.
How Havenstein Has Improved & How He’ll Energize the Rams
Clearly, that 2019 injury-marred campaign became an immediate afterthought for Havenstein and the Rams.
In 2020, Havenstein stayed healthy for the whole season — taking 1,239 total offensive snaps including playoffs and earning an 80.6 overall grade. And, his run blocking ascended to 83.9. Even before PFF gave him his new label, there were Ram fans who saw how under-appreciated “Big Hav” was.
Then, he put together his finest season to date as the Rams went on their run to the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
“He finished 2021’s Super Bowl campaign with the best overall PFF grade of his career (83.4),” Monson wrote. “His run blocking is typically excellent, and he is one of the best right tackles in the game, with three of the past four years earning 80.0-plus overall grades.”
But now, the 30-year-old is facing this new order: Being the elder statesman and the newest leader of the Rams’ front five now that Andrew Whitworth is retired and entering the broadcast studio for Amazon.
And there’s this more telling detail attached to Haventein: He’s entering a contract year, with this being the final season of his four-year, $32.5 million contract he signed, which makes him an unrestricted free agent for 2023 per Spotrac.
But with “Big Whit” retired and Havenstein showing steady improvement, he’s emerged as one of the best kept secrets on the Rams — and now will be trusted more than ever to keep Stafford healthy in 2022.