That long and winding road to NFL starter
Throughout the 2021 NFL season, the LA Rams braced for the growing rumors of venerable offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth’s imminent retirement. And while not unexpected, it’s simply not the sort of event that the LA Rams front office could ignore. If the Rams were caught unaware, they would be left scrambling to fill a huge hole in the offensive line.
But if the front office acted hastily, they could create quite the embarrassing faux pas by promoting or signing a player to replace Whitworth before he was ready to step away from the game. Thankfully, all parties concerned remained mature, in communication, and handled a very fluid and dynamic situation quite professionally.
While the Rams are now placing a bit of faith in Noteboom to take over for what should be a future NFL Hall-of-Famer, there are solid reasons for that faith. Unlike any other time in his career, Joe Noteboom can prepare for the upcoming season knowing where he will play, and doing so at his natural college position of left tackle.
Noteboom made for left tackle
Noteboom, and 6-foot-5 and 321-pounds, is a prototypical offensive left tackle with good lateral mobility, a solid burst out of the blocks, and a much better arsenal of footwork and hand actions to keep defenders at bay. Rather than the crazy bango-bongo action found at the interior offensive line, the test at left tackle is more predictable and is more about polished technique and consistent play.
He has settled in rather nicely into a groove at offensive tackle so far. While that development took time, it has resulted in a professional who can perform at an excellent level already, but whose career experience lends himself to understanding the other roles on the offensive line as well. Will it all work out? I think so, and I’m not alone. Starting at offensive tackle, particularly on the blindside, can be one of the most difficult positions to play in the NFL.
But at three years and $40+ million, if Noteboom plays to his potential, the LA Rams have landed quite a bargain.