The Los Angeles Rams inexplicably lost center Austin Blythe in free agency to the Kansas City Chiefs. Les Snead and co. competed in a staring contest in the center market and lost. While the team will most likely move Austin Corbett to center, they will still likely draft a center in April who can start, play guard, or at the very least provide depth.
Drafting a center who can start right away is a big ask. However, given what Corbett has provided at guard over the last two years, it would seem unwise to mess that up. Luckily this is a very talented class when it comes to interior offensive linemen. Finding a starter at 57 might actually be plausible unlike other years.
Unfortunately, a center such as Creed Humphrey will most likely be off of the board by the time that the Rams draft. If he is still available, Les Snead should sprint to the podium with his draft card. If he’s not, that will leave players that will be considered option B.
Landon Dickerson a Great Fit
One name that has been frequently brought up as an option for the Los Angeles Rams is Alabama center Landon Dickerson. While Dickerson is arguably the most talented center in the draft, I’m here to tell you that the Rams should practice buyer beware and avoid the center altogether.
Now, you might be thinking why would the Rams need avoid one of the best centers in the draft? After all, center is clearly a huge need and Dickerson is extremely talented. He’s a physical center with ideal size. As every center should be, he’s an extremely smart player. There are times when Dickerson is flat out dominant.
Additionally, he fits exactly what the Rams need. He’s a versatile player with experience at both guard and center. If the Rams wanted to keep Corbett at guard, they could slide Dickerson at center or slide him to guard him they opt for the veteran option in the middle.
Why wouldn’t the Rams want that player?
A Case of De Ja Vu?
Before we move any further, we’re going to flash back to Les Snead’s second draft with the Rams in 2013. Needing a center, the Rams addressed the position in the fourth round. At 113th overall, the team selected Alabama center Barrett Jones. At that spot, Jones was seen to be a steal.
Jones started his career at guard, before moving to tackle, and then found his spot at center during his senior season. He was flawless every position, but he projected as a starting center in the NFL. With his versatility, technique, and background he easily could have been a day two pick. However, he wasn’t because of a lengthy injury history and lack of athleticism.
In the 2012 SEC Championship game, Jones tore ligaments in his foot. While he did play on it, it was an injury that would plague him through his first few years in the NFL. As a sophomore, Jones missed the final two games of the regular season with a high ankle sprain. His freshman season was also cut short due to a shoulder injury which qualified him for a medical redshirt.
Jones only played in 10 games over two years for the Rams and in those snaps he didn’t give the team enough reason to keep him, resulting to him getting cut prior to the 2015 season.
Unfortunately for the Rams, due to the injury history and lack of athleticism, Jones never reached his potential. Now, how does that compare to Landon Dickerson.
Dickerson started his career at Florida State. He was playing well as a freshman before a torn ACL ended his season. As a sophomore, Dickerson was only able to play four games before he had to call it quits and get surgery on his ankle. In 2018, he played just two games before yet another ankle injury ended his season.
He then transferred to Alabama, but the injuries followed him there as well. For the first time in his career he played a full season, but last year he tore his ACL for the second time during his college career.
For anyone keeping track, in five years, Dickerson suffered two ACL tears and two major ankle injuries. That’s not something that you like to see with an offensive lineman, let alone one that you take in the second round.
I’m not comparing Dickerson to Jones. Yes, both went to Alabama and both were versatile players on the offensive line, and both had an injury history. However, you scout the player, not the helmet. Dickerson is without question more talented than Jones ever was.
The injuries, however, are just a huge red flag. That would be the case for any offensive lineman. The issue is that the Los Angeles Rams have gone down this road before with a player like Jones. Even last year, they drafted an injury-prone Terrell Lewis who struggled with injuries during his rookie season.
The Rams need to find a long-term answer and solution at the center position. Given his injury history, it’s hard to see that being Landon Dickerson. This is a deep class at center with a plethora of guys who have the potential to start and start early. There’s no reason to take a huge risk and draft the one that is made of glass. The NFL game is much more physically demanding than even a physical conference like the SEC.
When it comes to Landon Dickerson, the Rams should be cautious and practice buyer beware.