Shelton is a road grader
There truly is no true science in assessing NFL talent on the practice field. Like many perspectives that are formed out of subjective assessment and opinion, the ability to develop, evaluate, and then promote NFL talent is as much of an art form as a scientific method. That’s why the NFL has such varied results from similarly qualified talent.
Of course, there is also the need to understand the offensive overall philosophy. When the season began, the LA Rams were clearly interested in emphasizing the passing game. While that may seem like just throwing instead of running, the fundamental differences to an offensive lineman are massively different. In pass protection, offensive linemen must have a wide base, strong hands, and be able to absorb and redirect the momentum of massive defensive linemen.
But the opposite occurs on running plays. In that strategy, the offensive lineman must be faster, more agile, able to run and move bigger defenders out of the running lanes. Even better run-blockers move downfield and engage linebackers and even defensive backs. Those are the difference makers, the type of lineman who can block multiple defenders in a single running play leading to huge gains on the ground. Coleman Shelton is a road grader, but the LA Rams emphasized passing on offense to start the season.
Winds of change
The Rams went with Brian Allen to start the season. At first, a healthy Brian Allen fit the role well. But he was noticeably injured against the Tennessee Titans. At full strength, he is well-suited for the LA Rams needs on the offensive line. But he played injured in Weeks 9-12, and it was no random coincidence that the team lost all three games.
He was injured early against the Jacksonville Jaguars and was forced to sit that one out. What of Brian Allen’s health now?
So that was why Allen was taken out and Coleman Shelton was sent in. But it was fortuitous for the LA Rams, as Shelton is far more adept at run blocking than his teammate. And right now, the LA Rams need to be running. Hard and often.