The LA Rams offensive line has already become a mysterious jigsaw puzzle of moving parts. In order to make heads or tails of a number of questions, we have attempted to assemble the logic of pieces/players added or lost so far in the offseason. But, the plot thickens. Huh? Let us explain…
As a starting point, let’s begin with the presumed LA Rams starting offensive line configuration. With the retirement of Andrew Whitworth at offensive left tackle and the loss of Austin Corbett at right guard, we’ve been looking for moves that would indicate how the team planned to replace the vacated roles.
Additionally, we know that the LA Rams re-signed offensive tackle Joseph Noteboom, offensive center Brian Allen, and backup offensive center Coleman Shelton. Due to the amounts of their contracts, it did make sense to equate the compensation levels to starting roles. Allen would return to start at the offensive center, Noteboom would start at left tackle, and Shelton would start at right guard.
That was further supported by the fact that the LA Rams signed offensive center Drake Jackson and offensive tackle Adrian Ealy to Reserve/Futures contracts. Those moves, specifically the Drake Jackson signing, would backfill Shelton’s backup center duties, and allow the Rams to promote Shelton to the starting right guard position. That would also ensure a solid group of backup, with at least one player qualified to play each offensive line position.
But now, the presumption to start Shelton at right guard is in question.
As we had theorized when the Rams signed Jackson, he was at least an insurance policy segue for the Rams’ depth chart at their offensive center position, a role that faced two players with expiring contracts. Now that the team has re-signed both centers, Jackson’s release seems to indicate that Shelton will continue in his backup center role.
As we said when the LA Rams released DB Kareem Orr, it was really a crazy time for the team to be releasing players. The Rams’ offensive line has been a unit thought to be in need of more depth. This move reduces the Rams’ roster at their offensive line. Because Jackson, like Orr, is on a minimal contract, the release is due to team fit and not to financial considerations.
If you were looking for indications of who will take over at right guard, this latest development seems to favor the potential of the team to start Tremayne Anchrum at right guard. The team has a clear backup left tackle in Alaric Jackson, and the addition of Adrian Ealy suggests a potential backup right tackle as well.
But with Jackson’s release, the team’s only true tested offensive centers are now Brian Allen and Coleman Shelton. The team will likely not place the fate of veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford in the hands of an offensive lineman who has little offensive center experience.
Perhaps this move suggests that the team is optimistic about drafting offensive linemen this year? Now that would be an intriguing plot twist.