At No. 36 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams addressed their offensive line by taking TCU lineman Steve Avila.
Avila is a massive prospect, standing at 6’3″ and weighing in at 332 pounds. With great power and athleticism, Avila figures to step in immediately as a starter for the Rams who saw their offensive line decimated by injuries during the 2022 season.
As far as what his role will be, Sean McVay said Avila will compete for time at both center and guard considering he played all over the line in college.
“Well I think you always want to be able to cross train guys. He’s got really great position flex,” McVay said. “I think what Les said is you’re talking about a guy that played center at a high level and then transitioned to guard. And you watch the caliber of players that they were going against in the College Football Playoffs where you’re seeing two interior players that he’s consistently going against that were drafted on night one and then the Senior Bowl to me where you really see a lot of those things and you’re going against really high-caliber players, that was fun to be able to watch.
“And you do another deep dive and you really dive into those guys that Les and his group had identified this morning and you have the time to kind of be able to make sure that you get your ducks in a row. And he’s a guy that I think can play guard or center. We’ve got some competitive spots and we want to be able to create competition on this roster and we’ve got guys that have played a lot of football. But I do think that competition brings out the best in players. Everything is going to be earned. Nothing is going to be given. And I think that’s going to be a consistent narrative and theme that you’ll see that’ll give us the best chance to be the best team we can be. Steve will play guard and center, but we’ll see how that unfolds. But (we) want to be able to have enough guys that can snap the football, but I think he can play any of those interior spots.”
Les Snead echoed McVay’s comments about Avila’s versatility but also spoke highly of how he was able to handle higher levels of competition in the college playoffs. “I think it was a little bit of what you alluded to earlier, is hey, if there’s a chance to address the offensive line, especially the interior or really any of the spots, let’s go for it, and we spent a lot of time evaluating these players, researching them. So I think at the end of the day what it came down to was a lot of collective work between scouts and coaches. You get into the versatility, a guy that can definitely play three spots, left (guard), center, right guard, those type (of) things.
“(At the) end of the day, like Sean (McVay) said, ‘Turn on the College Football Playoff and he plays against two first rounders back-to-back and then goes to the Senior Bowl and plays against guys that definitely got drafted over the last couple of days, and you get to really see him evolve and improve and go, ‘Wow’. And then the Senior Bowl’s a little bit neat because offenses are different. It’s a little more pro-style offense and you can kind of really get a vision of how he can fit in. But long answer, he gets in the way and he stays in the way.”
Addressing the interior of the offensive line was a smart move by McVay and Snead and it’ll be exciting to see how well Avila does during the 2023 campaign.