Drafted 33rd overall by the Browns in 2018, Austin Corbett saw scarce playing time as a rookie within a veteran Cleveland offensive line room, then was traded to the Rams halfway through his second season for a 2021 fifth-round pick.
However, the change of scenery brought opportunity sooner than expected, as injuries along Los Angeles' offensive line afforded him the chance to start in seven of the eight games he played. In turn, that sample size gave the Rams enough confidence to keep him in a starting role this year, in what has been a rewarding third season for the former University of Nevada standout.
"Coming into the offseason, my goal was just to be a starter on this team," Corbett said during a video conference Monday, reflecting on his journey to L.A. "That's every competitor's goal, right? You're not just going to go on a team just to sit there and put a jersey on, you want to contribute, you want to do your part for your brothers next to you."
A look at evaluations from inside and outside the Rams locker room offer some insight in why their faith in Corbett was well-placed.
According to scouting service Pro Football Focus (PFF), Corbett allowed the fourth-fewest pressures (11) and tied for the seventh-fewest sacks allowed (1) among offensives guards who logged at least 500 snaps in 2019. This season, PFF has twice recognized him as the highest-graded Rams offensive player, most recently after Los Angeles' Monday Night Football win at Tampa Bay.
Earlier this season, Corbett had the fourth-highest run block win rate of any offensive guard in the NFL, according to ESPN - undoubtedly a critical component to Los Angeles' top-10 rushing offense.
"That kid's strength and explosiveness is what kind of sets him apart," center Austin Blythe said during a Sept. 30 video conference. "I mean, you guys have seen it, he just comes off the ball and mauls people."
And yet, as well as Corbett has played, Rams run game coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer on noted episode 49 of the Rams Revealed podcast in early October that he is still learning, given Corbett was coming off only his 10th NFL start - he's approaching his 19th this Sunday - and had played so little in Cleveland.
But the progress Corbett displayed in less than a year since the Rams acquired him was promising, and also reminded Kromer of why they liked him coming out of college.
"The guy is just powerful. He's a bigger Blythe-type body, but he can get his hips under you, he really does a good job with using his power, and he's athletic and can run," Kromer said on Oct. 1. "We really liked him coming out of college, it's just Cleveland picked him in the second round and he was gone. He's a guy that's developed as well."
It's been a rewarding season for Corbett off the field, too. In addition to becoming a full-time starter, he and his wife also welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Ford, on Sept. 8.
No matter who or what his sources of motivation have been, though, they've powered him to a strong first season as a full-time starter.
"Looking back, it's been awesome," Corbett said during a video conference Monday. "And really, the bright side of the whole season is that it's my first season as a dad now, and so there's been a different meaning behind why I'm playing this game. I think it really made me just find the love for football even more. And to be able to move on and do it with such a great group of teammates and a great line, you just can't ask for much more."