LA Rams OL fix centers on UDFA Cohl Cabral

LA Rams center Cohl Cabral could be key to OL fix

The LA Rams‘ greatest weakness on offense in 2019 was the inconsistent play found at the offensive center. Rookie center Brian Allen began the season as the team’s starter but was not the answer.  Not only did Allen struggle at times, but he fell to a season-ending injury, forcing the team to move right-guard turned left-guard Austin Blythe to the center position.

Film review of the 2019 season is hard because the errors on offense seemed to cascade from one offensive lineman to another. And when the offensive line blocked well, quarterback Jared Goff‘s dependable arm was anything but dependable. While the difficulty for the offense playing out-of-whack, the first place to focus on is the center position.  After all, the center snap to the quarterback triggers the offensive play. The center directs the blocking assignments. And finally, the center is primarily responsible for picking up A-gap blitzes, a headache for the offense all season.

Center of attention

While the LA Rams had hoped to draft a center, their targetted center Cesar Ruiz came off the board in round one. That forced the Rams to direct their picks in other directions and select other players. Fortunately, the Rams were able to address their need by signing aboard the 6-foot-5 300-pound center out of Arizona State University.

Cohl Cabral was the key blocker to unleash running back Eno Benjamin. And he was rated as the eighth to tenth-ranked center in the 2020 NFL Draft. Both 247Sports and CBSSports rated Cabral as the LA Rams top undrafted free agent signing. He started 38 games for the Sun Devils, showing incredible durability and work-ethic.  He even moved to Texas to study with offensive line guru Duke Manyweather to prepare for his NFL career.

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Draft profile consensus

While Cabral needs time in the weight room and coaching to develop better hand technique, there are a number of very promising attributes to place Cabral as one of the favorites to earn a roster spot despite arriving as an undrafted player. He is versatile, having experience and skillsets allowing him to play at any offensive line position. He has excellent football IQ, giving him the ability to read and communicate defenses to linemen. He scans the landscape, moving to help teammates but avoiding committing and allowing a late blitz through an easy A-gap.

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Undrafted players usually fall based on a lack of perceived athleticism and that is the case with Cabral. He was dinged on his handwork and his overall power. But these are areas Rams OL coach Aaron Kromer can address.

NFL Draft Profile
NFL Draft Network Profile

Cohl Cabral’s center competition

Cabral’s main competition for the role will be returning veteran (and from surgery) Austin Blythe, returning from rehab Brian Allen, and recently added Coleman Shelton. If he is as dedicated to bulking up as he was persistent at Arizona State, Cabral could be in the running for the Rams starting center in 2020.

The starting job won’t be handed to anyone just by showing up. The LA Rams were stung in 2019 by lining up two rookies side by side, but also the lack of ownership.  While that means it’s anyone’s job to win, that type of free-for-all by itself improves the chances for Cabral to get his foot in the door.

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The LA Rams added two offensive linemen this offseason. Tremayne Anchrum and Cohl Cabral. When the team takes the practice field, keep your eye on Cabral. He has everything to gain, and virtually nothing to lose. That usually when good things happen.

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