MALIBU, Calif. -- With the infinity pool just a few feet away at his team's new draft house overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay will have to wait a few days to take off his shirt and jump into it, much to the chagrin of friend Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
“Maybe I’ll be able to take my shirt off when we draft like Kliff Kingsbury said,” joked McVay.
Rams GM Les Snead and McVay held their pre-draft press conference via zoom because they came in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID. Both have been tested and they came back negative.
“Neither one of us is affected by this,” McVay said. “But we’re just following the protocols and wanted to be smart.”
McVay and Snead answered questions for about 40 minutes on this year’s draft. At the top of the list was what player would be snapping the ball to new quarterback Matthew Stafford come September.
McVay said they already have an answer for the departure of Austin Blythe to the Kansas City Chiefs currently on the roster.
His name is Brian Allen, the Rams starting center for the 2019 season. Allen did not see time last season as he recovered from major knee surgery that cut short his 2019 campaign, but would be the guy if the Rams had a game today.
“One of the things we’ve tried to do over the last couple years is really have some position flex, especially with those interior players,” McVay said. “But we definitely have more than enough guys in house, and that’s something we feel really confident about.”
However, even with Allen penciled in as the starter and other options like Coleman Shelton in the fold, McVay did mention the advantage his team has in new offensive line coach Kevin Carberry, who served in that same role at Stanford for three seasons.
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“When you’re looking at a lot of these linemen now that are coming out, he’s got a great command of this draft class because he was at Stanford for three years,” McVay said. “I’ve really enjoyed working with him and the rest of our offensive coaching staff, along with Les and his group, collaborating and kind of understanding, ‘All right, where are there some possible players depending on if we decided to utilize a pick on an offensive lineman that can add depth or provide real value for us.'”
McVay also mentioned the depth that his team developed over the last two years by being forced to play guys like Joe Noteboom, David Edwards, Bobby Evans and Austin Corbett due to injuries.
“Going into this upcoming season, you’ve got a lot depth with guys you feel really good about that have some position flex,” McVay said. “You’ve seen Bobby Evans start at guard, at tackle. You’ve seen David Edwards and Austin Corbett both start at the left guard and right guard spots. You’ve seen Joe Noteboom start at the guard spot and the tackle spot. So, that position flex is something that’s extremely valuable and beneficial.”
McVay discussed evaluating returners. Like the center position, the Rams are content with Nsimba Webster as the team’s guy penciled in at returner. But they are also looking to add some competition.
“I think Nsimba did some really nice things,” McVay said. “Obviously, adding DeSean Jackson, he’s had some experience and history returning punts, but I don’t think you can find enough guys that have the ability to influence and affect the game when the ball is in their hands.”
As far as COVID-19 is concerned, Snead said it has impacted the draft evaluation process in terms getting information on players sooner, players opting out of last season and the difficulties in getting accurate medical evaluations.
However, Snead said the scouting department and medical staff have done their best to get the most accurate information available on each draftable player.
“Instead of having a lot of workout numbers at the combine in the middle of February, if you’re looking for the LSU linebacker’s numbers, you didn’t get them until yesterday,” Snead said. “So, there’s been some delayed gratification in that type of thing.”
Finally, McVay said he does not believe the Rams have any glaring holes to address on the roster, which allows them to pick the best players available that meet their needs when they are on the clock.
“We’re not really asking anybody to feel like they have to come in and immediately start,” McVay said. “You are trying to provide depth at some positions. There’s different things, based on the personnel groupings offensively and defensively that we want to try and fulfill.”