Los Angeles Rams 90-Man Roster Preview: Guard Austin Blythe

by Jake Ellenbogen
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The Los Angeles Rams Rams and offensive line haven’t gone well together in a sentence for a while. Last season though, the Rams ended up winning the Built Ford Thought Offensive Line of the Year award. One could thank offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, however, the players definitely deserve some credit as well. In a continuation of our roster preview series, we will take a look at the man that went from the waiver wire to a Super Bowl starter – Austin Blythe.

It’s worth mentioning that the Rams found Blythe via the waiver wire in May of 2017. The Indianapolis Colts waived the now 27-year old and the Rams took the offensive lineman and made him their treasure. Blythe played in every game that same year despite just starting one game.

2018 Season

The season started off with Austin Blythe listed behind former third-round pick Jamon Brown. In the most typical NFL business way possible, Brown lost the starting job after he was suspended for the first two weeks. Blythe took that opportunity and made the most of it, completely changing the dynamic of the position. The Rams ended up parting ways with their preseason projected starter Brown in favor for starting Blythe.

Blythe surprisingly played the second-most snaps of any guard in the entire league behind only New England Patriots’ Joe Thuney. Blythe logged 1,371 snaps and was ranked as the 12th overall guard per Pro Football Focus.

For Blythe, it was a tale of the first 11 games vs. the rest of the season. The Rams guard was dominant in the first 11 games. However, after those 11 games, things started to take a downturn for Blythe. It seemed as if the former Iowa Hawkeye wore down as the season went on and of course. It’s worth questioning if playing the second-most snaps of any guard last season took its toll.  He’ll look to get back to his early-season form in 2019.

Roster Battle

Austin Blythe started on the best offensive line in the league and started in the Super Bowl. His starting role will be on lockdown. Blythe may have some talent behind him on the depth chart, but right now Blythe is 100 percent the week one starter barring an awful preseason and potential unforeseen injury.

Three Plays on Tape

This is week one and Blythe knows every snap means everything if he is going to fight off Jamon Brown. Watch Blythe as he slams Robert Nkemdiche into the turf. Blythe clears the way for Gurley and this is a statement play that basically sets the tone for the majority of Blythe’s season.

This is another huge play made by Blythe.  He is the sole reason for a walk-in touchdown for Todd Gurley. Blythe steers his opposition out of the way and creates a huge hole for Gurley. You see how quick and explosive he is at the line.

The first two plays take place during the beginning of the season but here is Blythe near the end of the season in Chicago. Blythe doesn’t show a good anchor here in pass protection as Eddie Goldman blows by him and teams up with Akiem Hicks in the backfield to complete the safety. Blythe shows great things but this is a bad play and it’s evident he wasn’t the same player at the end of the year. Hopefully, Blythe will correct this and return to his early-season form.

Biggest Question

Can Austin Blythe stay the course and play as he did in the first 11 weeks of last season?

It’s going to be tough to know until the games start but Blythe is a big need for the Rams who are starting two first-year starters and lost their top guard, Rodger Saffold, in free agency

If he doesn’t return to his early form last season, Blythe could very well be on his way out. The 27-year old is the starter now, but with the Rams drafting Jamil Demby last year, Bobby Evans and David Edwards in this past draft, there is a legitimate cause for concern that Blythe might be run out of Los Angeles with the amount of talent behind him.

2019 Outlook and Role

This upcoming season is huge for impending free agent Austin Blythe. This is also a big year for the Rams that desperately need their offensive line to come through. Blythe could easily push himself into the long term plans as long as he stays the course and shows consistency. Blythe, regardless of who the bigger benefit is, needs a big-time season for free agency in general.

As mentioned, he is slotted as the starter for 2019, but he’ll need to show consistency if the Rams are to keep him beyond this season.

Chances of Making the Final Roster

Unless something crazy comes out on Austin Blythe, he will in fact 100 percent be the Rams 2019 right guard. Now, the chances of him being a starter in 2020 is a better question.

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