Center of attention
Background – Offensive center Coleman Shelton (RFA) was a 2019 mid-season signing off the Arizona Cardinals practice squad to add depth to the offensive line in the midst of injuries. He has been primarily a backup offensive lineman until 2021. With several injuries to starter Brian Allen, Coleman Shelton stepped right in and let the LA Rams to a 3-0 record before the team reinserted Allen into the starting lineup.
Strengths – 6-foot-4 299-pound Coleman Shelton is an athletic interior offensive lineman. He is quick enough to pass protect in the fast action of the interior of the offensive line but powerful enough to get out to secondary assignments on inside runs. While the Rams have several options to extend offensive linemen, Shelton is the obvious choice. Shelton is healthier than Allen, and a more natural fit at the center role than Corbett.
Weaknesses – Of all of the LA Rams offensive line, Shelton has had to fight to get playing time. And yet, when he gets the chance, he delivers. The trouble is that the coaching staff has truly not been very objective in giving those types of opportunities. Shelton is not All-Pro or anything, but he is more than ‘serviceable’, and the Rams need an experienced center for 2022.
Team Impact – He played in the games against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Minnesota Vikings. Not only did the Rams win all three games, despite being short-handed, but the team rushed for 331 yards and two touchdowns in those games. He is a leader in the middle of the offensive line, makes immediate decisions, and can deliver both at pass blocking and run blocking.
Estimated market value – Even a backup center can command $4 million on a three-year contract.
Projected team action – The LA Rams will likely try to lock Shelton up on a multi-year deal. If that proves fruitless, look for the team to lock him up with a Right-of-First-Refusal Qualifying Tender offer of $2.433 million on a one-year deal. Even if the Rams intend to draft a center, locking up Shelton is the best option.
Most likely team to sign him – The LA Rams would not be foolish enough to let him walk, would they? If they do, look for the Detroit Lions or the LA Chargers to swoop in and make a very competitive offer