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Finding long-term answer at center a top priority for Rams

With a deep pool of talent at OL, L.A. has plenty of options

Give Los Angeles Rams GM Les Snead some credit.

Snead and the rest of his scouting department likely anticipated this year’s draft class would have a deep pool of talent at offensive line, aligning with the team’s top need this offseason.

So, the fact that the Rams do not have a first round selection in this year’s draft does not prohibit them from filling their most obvious need on an already talented roster this week.

The Rams let center Austin Blythe sign with the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency without matching a one-year deal with a guaranteed base salary of $990,000 this offseason.

Even though they are pushed up against the cap, the Rams certainly could have made Blythe a better offer if they wanted him to stay in the fold.

Instead, head coach Sean McVay will turn to Brian Allen as a placeholder at the center position. But Allen likely will get some competition for the starting job from a talented group in the draft at center that includes Division III product Quinn Meinerz and Stanford’s Drew Dalman.

Meinerz out of Wisconsin-Whitewater played well against top prospects at the Senior Bowl and offers versatility because of his ability to play center and both guard spots. The Rams have reportedly interviewed Meinerz.

Dalman is the son of Chris Dalman, who played center for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1990s. Drew Dalman also played for current Rams offensive line coach Kevin Carberry when he coached the offensive line at Stanford last season.

The Rams also could look to draft the eventual replacement for Andrew Whitworth at left tackle.

Whitworth is turns 40 in December and is in the second-year of a three-year deal. And while Joe Noteboom and Tremayne Anchrum Jr. showed promise last season, the Rams could always use another talented prospect who can protect the blindside of franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford.

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Offensive linemen currently on the roster

OL (11): Starters -- (LT) Andrew Whitworth, (LG) David Edwards, (C) Brian Allen,(RG) Austin Corbett, (RT) Rob Havenstein. Reserves -- Tremayne Anchrum (G), Chandler Brewer (G), Jamil Demby (G), Bobby Evans (T), Joe Noteboom (G/T), Coleman Shelton (C/G).

Offensive lineman to consider for the Rams

Round 2 (57)
C Quinn Meinerz, 6-3, 320, Wisconsin-Whitewater

The skinny: Big, strong prospect that should capably handle the physical aspect of playing in the trenches in the NFL. However, played at a small school, so the step up in competition on a weekly basis is a concern. And he played mostly guard in college, so transitioning inside to center in a complex offense like McVay runs is a concern as well.

Round 3 (88)
C Drew Dalman, 6-3, 299 Stanford
The skinny: Dalman is intimately familiar with the zone run game from running it in high school and at Stanford. He’s not as physically imposing as other prospects, but he moves well in space and should hit the ground running in his rookie season.

Round 3 (103)
T Walker Little, 6-7, 313, Stanford

The skinny: Like Dalman, Little played for new Rams offensive line coach Kevin Carberry at Stanford. Opted out last season due to COVID and suffered a season-ending knee injury in his first game of the 2019 season, so Little hasn’t played a lot of football in the last two years. But he’s a big, strong prospect.

Round 4 (141)
T Tommy Doyle, 6-8, 320, Miami (Ohio)
The skinny: Doyle has good length and moves well but did not play against elite competition in the MAC. Earned first-team All-MAC honors playing left tackle the past two seasons.

Round 6 (209)
C Trey Hill, 6-4, 319, Georgia

The skinny: Started at center his last two years in college but also played guard his freshman season for the Bulldogs, so Hill offers some versatility. Did not play in the last two games of the 2020 for Georgia, opting to have surgery to repair torn meniscus in both knees.

Round 7 (252)
C Jimmy Morrissey, 6-3, 300, Pittsburgh
The skinny:
A four-year starter and two-time captain at Pittsburgh, Morrissey’s smaller size for a center leaves him better equipped for a zone scheme.