Ironclad reasons not to sleep on the LA Rams offensive line in 2024

Los Angeles Rams Minicamp, Ryan Wendell, Steve Avila
Los Angeles Rams Minicamp, Ryan Wendell, Steve Avila / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages
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Steve Avila's versatility is the catalyst this season

It's pretty amazing to sit back and realize that the LA Rams drafted the first interior lineman prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft by selecting former TCU rookie prospect Steve Avila with the 36th overall pick in Round 2. The benefits of selecting first form that position group included getting a very versatile offensive lineman who can play at either guard position as well as center.

When Avila arrived to the Rams roster in 2023, there were questions as to how the team might use him. Curiously, he started his rookie season as the team's left guard, filling the huge vacancy created by the expired contract of veteran offensive lineman David Edwards.

But with Avila at left guard, the team started journeyman center Coleman Shelton. Now, Shelton had a curious knack for the Rams, as whenever he started at center, and only when he started at center, the Rams had a chance of getting 100+ yards out of a running back in the game. It was a pattern that existed for several years.

With Shelton no longer blocking for his running back, and racing downfield to clobber secondary defenders, you may wonder if the Rams rushers can remain just as effective. If the starting center was any other guy, your concerns would be justified. With second-year offensive lineman Steve Avila at center, you have little to worry about.

Avila stands 6-foot-3 and tips the scales at 332 pounds. Even in just his rookie season, he played all offensive snaps and allowed just two quarterback sacks for the entire season. Best of all, he was never content to be free, as he sought a defender to block on every play. I don't think that the Rams promotion of Avila to center was random chance. Clearly, the coaches liked what they saw out of Avila in 2023, and want to see much more of it in 2024.