The LA Rams are trying to make sense of the offensive center competition on the offensive line right now. There is the favorite, Austin Corbett, who can move from his right guard spot to the center position. Then there is Coleman Shelton, who has some offensive center starter experience and allows the rest of the offensive line to remain intact. And finally, there is Brian Allen, the 2019 starter at the offensive line position, but whom some consider as the weakest of the three.
The only problem is? They are all on the last year of their NFL contract.
So what of 2022? Well, the LA Rams will have another round of looking for money, because making room in 2021 required the team to push salary expense into 2022. That means that that the team will be forced to free up money once more while trying to re-sign over 20 free agents. If you didn’t enjoy the 2020 or 2021 offseason, don’t get your hopes up too high for 2022.
Right now, it appears that the 2022 offseason will have all of the major components that have plagued the Rams offseasons of late: Limited cap space, a significant number of outbound free agents, and a need to re-sign key (upwards of eight or more) starters without the obvious means to do so. How can the LA Rams counter that?
They may already have done so.
The LA Rams have built a solid reputation at finding small school gemstones, and if Western Kentucky’s Jordan Meredith pans out, the Rams are on their way to one more. The good thing is? He has a year to be coached up and develop.
Why is an undrafted free agent offensive lineman even worth mentioning now? Well, the fact is that the LA Rams saw fit to add just three offensive linemen to the roster in 2021, and as an undrafted free agent, Meredith can be carried on the practice squad this season as well.
He is a 6-foot-3 302-pound interior offensive lineman who has had plenty of experience, having started on the offensive line for three straight seasons. According to Pro Football Focus via wkusports.com, Meredith’s performance warranted an 81.5 grade for overall blocking, 83.9 grade for pass-blocking grade, and an 83.9 grade for run blocking. While that’s all well and good for Conference USA, it’s only an indicator of the potential for a successful professional football career.
Per his NFL Draft profile, Meredith has the right mindset and mechanics. He simply needs to mature with strength and conditioning, as well as expand lateral movement in pass protection. Of course, a shift to the offensive center position would help the need for Meredith to develop a quicker lateral response.
No, I’m not proclaiming Meredith as a starting center for the 2022 NFL season. But he is a chess piece who could prove to become very important to the LA Rams as they plan ahead. The Rams will need to develop him into a serviceable offensive lineman for next season. By all accounts, he should be very important to the Rams 2022 plans.