It seems like yesterday that many a piece was written (including on this amazing site) about how Austin Corbett is the best center for the job despite him technically being a starting guard. The Rams didn’t feel compelled to draft a center despite losing last year’s starter Austin Blythe, who took less money to not start for the Chiefs. Corbett got all the first-team reps during OTA’s all spring but now Sean McVay has decided to make Brian Allen the starter.
The fanbase became apoplectic, to say the least, especially since everyone already talked themselves into Corbett in lieu of drafting Quinn Meinerz or Creed Humphrey, who is now the starter for the Chiefs (more on them later).
Brian Allen hasn’t played since 2019 and is entering his fourth year in the league, and has yet to start a full season. So why did the Rams decide to do risk their championship dreams on a fourth-year project?
In working backward on Brian Allen, why didn’t the Rams simply draft Creed Humphrey with either of their early-round picks? They opted for Tutu Atwell and Ernest Jones instead, and while most Rams couch pundits claim those picks were brilliant, most did NOT feel that way at the moment. Rams twitter had a meltdown akin to if they found out they were being charged a Bear Patrol Tax. Yes, Creed Humphrey is already capable of starting on just about every team in the league so Jones and Atwell, while great picks, will have a Creed shadow over them; but not enough to do illegal boxing matches in Mexico. Why didn’t they draft Meinerz? Well, word out of Broncos camp is that he’s more of a project than he seemed in April so that makes some sense. Alright, so if they didn’t see a starting center they liked why not go after a vet?
The most logical veteran candidate was The Secret World of Alex Mack. Mack is 36 and entering the stage in his career (though older) that John Sullivan was in, where he wants to play for a contender. The Rams let him go to the Niners and they didn’t really pursue any other vets. So why not? Obviously, they knew they had to be careful with their money to the extent that they’d have to wait for their wedding to shop at the 99 Cent Store. They also were a little wary about having a 36-year-old, even one as good as Mack, protect Stafford.
That also makes sense, but what doesn’t is why they didn’t resign Austin Blythe? Especially since he again took less money to play for the Chiefs because they’re his favorite team (essentially living Paul Rudd’s dream)? It seems odd, but perhaps Sean McVay and new offensive line coach Kevin Carberry didn’t feel like he was the best option, which if true, makes their previous two decisions even more baffling.
Les Snead and the Rams’ scouting team have been so savvy in drafting beyond the first-round that choosing Tutu and Jones over Humphrey feel like they’re in irrational confidence mode. They announced they were shifting Austin Corbett to center signaling that Brian Allen wasn’t long for the team and would be kept around for depth. What happened?
It seems that Bobby Evans has had a bumpy camp and Corbett’s services were better served at guard. The Rams have drafted several Swiss Army-style linemen to have flexible with their depth but they don’t still don’t have anyone that can specifically play center outside of Allen.
Brian Allen, in a vacuum, isn’t inherently BAD. Where fan acrimony comes in is how much of an unknown he really is. He was drafted in 2018 but served as a backup. In 2019, he became the new starter after John Sullivan left. He made it through nine games before an MCL injury ended his season. Last year, he tested positive for Covid, and along with Blythe’s emergence, kept him on the sidelines. His sample size is extremely small but in his nine starts, he was serviceable and didn’t allow a sack, but again, a small sample size.
The Rams are primed to make a Super Bowl run, but if Brian Allen can’t stay healthy or he hasn’t progressed, that could doom them or at least force them to shuffle their line and at a certain point, it becomes a house of cards. In theory, the Rams could still pluck someone after cuts or do what they did with Corbett and trade for a salvage project but right now it doesn’t look like Andy McCullum is walking through that door (although if he did he’d bring donuts).
With fans and amateur blog boys, any weakness in the Rams’ armor will be dissected like Boliver Trask cutting into a dead mutant. The center position is a glaring question mark and honestly has been since Sully left in 2019. Brian Allen could wind up being the answer, at least for this year, and then they can begin developing their franchise of the future next season while shelling out for a vet. Or Allen is the answer long term and they can set their sights elsewhere. Until week one, and perhaps all year, every penalty, block, snap, etc. will be scrutinized until he either acquits himself as a solid starter or gets yanked off the stage.