Training Camp opens soon and all the focus on the Rams is going to come from how Matthew Stafford looks in year two, how Allen Robinson integrates into the offense, what Liam Coen brings to the table, and how Cam Akers looks coming off the Achilles tear. The person who has a ton of control on how all of that goes is Rams offensive line coach Kevin Carberry. Carberry is in his second year on the job and the Rams brought in new talent for him to mold after drafting zero linemen the year before.
He needs to not only fill the Andrew Whitworth void but also replace Austin Corbett and improve a run game that statistically ranked 9th at the end of last year but struggled mightily in the playoffs. There is a lot of young talent on the Rams offensive line and some vets in contract years so he’s got a massive opportunity ahead of him.
Rams Offensive Line: Priority One- Left Tackle
The biggest priority for Carberry is getting Joseph Noteboom to adequately fill the shoes of Andrew Whitworth. That’s no easy task. Whitworth has been the Ram’s best lineman over the last five years and could cap his career off with a gold jacket. But fortunately for everyone, Noteboom has proven he’s a quality left tackle. Despite a rocky start to his career where he missed most of the 2019 season due to a torn ACL and MCL, he’s rebounded to be a capable starter. Noteboom has already filled in for Whitworth due to injuries in 2022 and Covid in 2021. In 2021 he earned the best PFF grade of his career with a respectable 77.7
He plugged in perfectly in big games and the Rams rewarded him with a three-year $40 million deal ($25 guaranteed and $13.3 a year). He will be 30 at the end of that deal so the Rams are getting him for most of his prime and if Carberry can make him even better they have a franchise tackle at a bargain. Noteboom is by far the most important piece of this offensive line and will be a major factor in how long this title window is open.
Rams Offensive Line: Priority Two- Guard
Another low-key void Carberry needs to fill is the void left by Austin Corbett. He went to Carolina in free agency. The good news is the Rams invested their third-round pick in Logan Bruss. Bruss is another in a line of Wisconsin products the Rams coveted and by all accounts is the Truckasaurus the Rams offensive line needs to run the ball more consistently.
He is a day-one starter but what Carberry needs to do is make him better in pass protection. The reason Bruss was a day-two pick is his deficiencies as a pass blocker specifically his hand technique. That’s not the worst thing in the world but again given how tenuous this four-yearish WIN NOW window is, he does need to be AWESOME right away.
Rams Offensive Line: Priority Three- Free Agents
What’s even more fun is that the other three incumbent starters are all in contract years. Given the Rams’ cap machinations it isn’t necessarily clear if they will be the long-term answers given the largely untapped young talent on the roster. Chief among them is Rob Havenstein who prior to last year was thrown into cut/trade scenarios and then put out a largely awesome year. If he can keep that up the Rams are easily going to be outbid next off-season. David Edwards and Bobby Evans are also free agents after this season. The Rams won’t likely keep all three.
So developing the bench is a huge priority for Carberry this year. He needs to see what he has in second-year players Alaric Jackson and Tremayne Anchrum who both have received limited playing time. Training Camp and the pre-season will largely dictate which gets the plum position of being the Havenstein in waiting. Jackson has more experience but not much more. Rookie Jack Snyder is also among these pieces that will need to be developed in the event that the Rams offensive line is poached in free agency.
Rams Offensive Line: Priority Four- Build the Bench
The clearest line of succession on the Rams offensive line is at the center position. Brian Allen was MALIGNED last year and while a lot of his struggles were due to an elbow injury he was still a top three enemy on Rams Twitter (the most rational group known to man), and what didn’t help his cause was the ascension of Coleman Shelton. He filled in quite well, to the point where every playoff start caused an outpouring of “START SHELTON” noise.
Allen could easily bounce back but even so, Shelton is cheaper and if there’s an ethos to the Rams’ offensive line it’s to get talented, versatile guys at a discount. Snyder, Chandler Brewer, and Italian Leviathan Max Pircher are among the hodgepodge of young untapped talent that Carberry has to play with as well so this Rams offensive line is both in a transitional phase but that’s also an opportunity.
Kevin Carberry has a unique challenge ahead of him and one that isn’t wholly unique to the Rams. He needs to both make the incumbents better while also building up the influx of young talent the Rams drafted/signed this off-season. That’s no easy task when the offense is on a win-now schedule. Fortunately, he’s proven he’s a terrific coach as he was given no new talent last year and made everyone on the roster better.
He also (hopefully) gets the benefit of a stable run game this year and that should make life a lot easier. If he gets the line to be better than it was at stretches last year then the offense should be better and the chances of RUN IT BACK happening dramatically increases. He’s already done a great job replacing the beloved Aaron Kromer so he’s more than capable of handling the pressure.