THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams have been aggressive in making trades and signing free agents this offseason, which gave them the flexibility to be patient with their first and only draft pick through the first two days of the NFL draft.
By selecting TCU offensive lineman Joe Noteboom on Friday night in the third round with the 89th overall pick, the Rams believe they have the right circumstances to develop their left tackle of the future.
“I think it’s a great situation for him, to be able to come in and learn behind Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein, two tackles we feel great about,” Rams coach Sean McVay said.
Said general manager Les Snead: “Joe is a lucky man.”
A three-year starter for the Horned Frogs, Noteboom could eventually be the successor to the 36-year-old Whitworth. Whitworth signed a three-year contract last March and immediately helped stabilize the offensive line for the Rams, who went from the worst scoring offense in the NFL to leading the league at 29.9 points per game in McVay’s first season as head coach.
The Rams started the same offensive line for 15 of 16 regular-season games and their wild-card round loss to Atlanta, a scenario McVay knows is unlikely to be repeated over multiple seasons. Noteboom, who started his final 40 games at TCU and played left tackle in his final two seasons, will get a chance to start out as the reserve swing tackle.
An honorable mention All-Big-12 selection last season and four-time first-team all-conference academic selection, the Rams believe Noteboom has the versatility and intelligence to fill that role in the near term.
“I can tell you that, from a mental standpoint, to be active on game day, number one you’re going to have to be able to learn two positions,” Snead said. “He can do that, that’s no problem for him. From that point forward, it’s going out and earning a job on the field.”
But the main priority for Noteboom will be to learn from Whitworth, a two-time first-team All-Pro.
McVay credited Whitworth’s leadership with helping accelerate the cohesion of the Rams offensive line last season and he believes the veteran can serve the same role in being a mentor to help Noteboom develop.
“I think he was instrumental in really helping our line as a whole last year, and I know he’ll do the same taking Joe underneath his arm and kind of guiding him along the way,” McVay said.
“That’s perfect. I learn from a Pro Bowler, a veteran,” Noteboom said on a conference call. “It’s fantastic, just knowing all the pieces they have added and what a great young team it is and Coach McVay. I think it’s the perfect spot.”
The Rams were originally set to make their first selection with the 23rd pick in the third round but made a trade with Oakland, picking up a sixth-round pick for moving down two spots from 87th overall.
After not making a selection in the first two rounds, having traded their first-round pick to New England for wide receiver Brandin Cooks earlier this month after they dealt their second-round pick to Buffalo for wide receiver Sammy Watkins in August, the Rams go into Saturday with eight picks.
The Rams have four picks in the fourth round and four more in the sixth round, all acquired either through trades or as compensatory selections.
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