To put it simply, the Los Angeles Rams offensive line is a mess heading into the 2017 offseason. It was the clear weak link for the Rams last season, and there really isn’t a simple solution to the problem. The Rams will have big decisions to make and they start with what to do about the currentl personnel.
The biggest decision Les Snead and the coaching staff will have to make is what to do about Greg Robinson. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft has been nothing short of a disaster in the NFL. Not only did Robinson get flagged 14 times last season, he managed to give up eight sacks as well. Despite all of the negatives, Robinson has shown flashes of potential when being moved from tackle to guard, but the Rams have never committed to letting him start at guard full time. Robinson should either be given a chance at guard or just cut altogether. He represents the worst decision ever made during the Snead/Fisher era.
Veteran guard Rodger Saffold was the MVP of the offensive line and one of the few bright spots on the Rams offense. He ranked 26 overall among guards according to Pro Football Focus and didn’t allow a single sack over the final seven games of the season. Saffold will surely be returning to the Rams for his eighth season with the team.
Rob Havenstein seems to be the only other 2016 starter that will be a sure thing to return in 2017. Havenstein took a step back in 2016, allowing eight sacks after not giving up a single sack as a rookie in 2015. He was still easily the second most productive lineman for the Rams in 2016. It’s unlikely the Rams would give up on a player after a sophomore slump. Expect improvement from Havenstein in 2017.
The rest of the line after Havenstein and Saffold is a mystery at this point, and it’s hard to predict how the Rams will handle the personnel changes up front. Center Tim Barnes has started for the Rams over the past two years. While the Rams will likely be looking for a replacement, don’t be surprised if they don’t find somebody they like better than Barnes and he remains the starter for 2017. Second year guard Cody Wichmann hasn’t done much to convince the Rams that he deserves the starting spot. If Greg Robinson does indeed remain with the team, he may end up taking over Wichmann’s guard spot for 2017. The most likely change to the offensive line will be adding a new tackle to fill Robinson’s role.
The Rams will almost certainly look to add a lineman early in the 2017 NFL Draft. The current group finished the season as the 27th ranked offensive line according to Pro Football Focus. The unit failed to protect both Jared Goff and Case Keenum, and they struggled to give running back Todd Gurley enough room to move in the backfield. Expect a different look in 2017.
Steve Rebeiro is a staff writer and podcast host for Rams Talk. He graduated from Marquette University in 2016. For more of his opinions, follow him on Twitter here.