LA Rams: Austin Corbett owns offensive center position hands down

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams were willing to allow veteran Austin Blythe to test the NFL Free Agency market because the front office had a plan in place. While that plan was not laid out for all to assess at the arrival of the new NFL season, we can see the details with the steps that the team has undertaken already. Of course, the critical cog to make the entire machinery work was the versatility of interior offensive lineman Austin Corbett.

When the Rams traded a 2021 fifth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for the former second-round pick Corbett, it was a rare win-win scenario. The Browns had no opening in their starting offensive line and were contemplating cutting Corbett outright. The Rams, conversely, were at their wit’s end trying to plug the starting lineup after waves of injuries forced starters’ seasons to end prematurely. Corbett played offensive left guard for the Rams in 2019, and then pivoted and started at right offensive guard in 2020.

On neither occasion did he benefit from OTAs or training camp.  He arrived mid-season in 2019, negating any chance to ramp up with his teammates. In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic had forced the NFL into stringent rules on training camp, forcing teams to limit direct contact to the barest minimum possible.

Corbett just shows up and delivers. Simple as that.

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams /

Los Angeles Rams

Trades come in all sizes

The LA Rams are mostly known for headlining the sports section with some blockbuster trade that changes the landscape of the entire NFL. But the Rams are just as effective with the subtle moves that improve the middle and bottom segments of the roster as well. After all, the Rams used a moment of great need to parlay a 2021 fifth-round draft pick into a starting offensive lineman for 2019, 2020, and 2021 NFL seasons.  Even if the Rams cannot afford to resign Corbett, his value in the NFL Free Agency market could net the Rams a fifth-round or better awarded compensatory pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

With the arrival of veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Rams sure want to put the best foot forward. Or, in this case, their best offensive lineman at the center position. Reports already indicate that Corbett and Stafford have established a good rapport. For a 17 game season with such high expectations already set, that center-quarterback exchange is critical to set correctly right out of the gates.

Of course, there are other variables that helped to form this decision. The Rams coaching staff believes that Bobby Evans will work out at the right offensive guard starting role. That remains to be seen. But if Evans can hold up his end of the offensive line, this could be as good if not better than 2020’s version.

For now, forget the belief that the Rams failed to address the offensive center position in the 2021 NFL Draft and that oversight will be costly to the team. It’s just a fog that is lifting. These Rams have a lot to prove this year, and they will need to do so through 17 regular-season games well into the post-season. With the eyes on the prize set at lifting the Lombardi Trophy, there are few if any moral victories.

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Setting Austin Corbett appears to be one winner. Regardless of how other players perform on the offensive line, the offensive center position appears to be set for 2021.  After this year is anyone’s guess. But for now, you can all go back to what you were doing. False alarm.