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Sean McVay confirms Steve Avila will move from left guard to center on Rams' upgraded O-line

The Los Angeles Rams didn't enter the offseason planning to re-shuffle their interior offensive line, but that's how things unfolded.

After center Coleman Shelton voided his contract, ultimately signing with Chicago, the Rams re-signed Pro Bowler Kevin Dotson and handed big money to ex-Detroit Lion Jonah Jackson, but head coach Sean McVay had three stud guards and no center. The natural move, if unexpected at the outset, was to push Steve Avila from guard to center, where he played more than 1,000 snaps at TCU.

At the NFL's Annual League Meeting this week in Orlando, Fla., McVay confirmed Avila would indeed move to center.

"That was really never part of the plan until you realize, 'Wow, Coleman Shelton voided his contract,' " McVay said via the team’s official website. "We always wanted to get Coleman back. And then by nature of just kind of investing and spending some time evaluating the guard market, you re-sign Kevin (Dotson) ahead of the two-day negotiating period, and then you realize, okay, wow, I had always just assumed he (Jonah Jackson) was gonna go back to Detroit. And then you realize, wow, we might actually have the opportunity to acquire him as well. Hey, Kevin's at right guard, Jonah played left guard, and oh, by the way, this stud rookie left guard that you had, he was an excellent center at TCU."

A second-round pick, Avila shined during his rookie season at left guard showing the ability to move defenders and play solidly against the pass. His athleticism on the interior allows the Rams to move him to center with little worry of things falling apart.

"He's got an amazing athleticism for a big player," McVay said. "He's got great contact balance, you can see his ability to take second-level angles of departure, fit second-level blocks, play in space. That was one of the things that I went back and evaluated. I think he's got the natural ability to play on the left or the right side of the line, be another lefty center for us."

After the possibility of signing Jackson came up, McVay said he went back and watched Avila's center tape at TCU and came away confident the juggling could work.

"And you say, you know what, he did a great job at center, there's a lot of work (there)," McVay said.

It's a smart move by L.A. Instead of trying to replace Shelton with another center who might have been a downgrade, they upgraded the left guard spot instead, adding a mauler in Jackson who should fit McVay's scheme perfectly. Coaches often talk about versatility being a massive benefit. Avila's position flexibility allowed the Rams to upgrade an entire unit.

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