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Rams’ first draft pick Joseph Noteboom relishes his role as apprentice

The Rams selected Texas Christian offensive tackle Joseph Noteboom in the third round of the NFL draft. The Los Angeles Times' Gary Klein and Lindsey Thiry break down the pick and tell you what to expect in rounds four through six on Saturday.

For a young offensive lineman beginning his pro career, Joseph Noteboom could not have envisioned a better scenario.

The Rams selected the Texas Christian tackle on Friday in the third round of the NFL draft with the 89th overall pick.

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The 6-foot-5, 306-pound Noteboom joins a team that won the NFC West and, after a flurry of high-profile offseason moves, is regarded as a Super Bowl contender under second-year coach Sean McVay.

"It's fantastic, just knowing all the pieces they've added, what a great young team it is," Noteboom said during a teleconference. "And Coach McVay. I think it's the perfect spot."

So do the Rams.

Without first- and second-round picks, general manager Les Snead and McVay were searching to add depth to an offensive line that features two players performing at an elite level on the far side of their careers, and three others in the final year of their contracts.

The Rams went into Friday with the No. 87 pick. But when their turn on the clock finally arrived, they traded the pick to the Oakland Raiders for the 89th and 217th picks. The 217th pick is a sixth-round compensatory pick.

Noteboom, who has played both tackle spots, is expected to learn at the elbow of left tackle Andrew Whitworth, a Pro Bowl selection last season at age 35.

"Joe's a lucky man," Snead said. "I don't think any offensive tackle will be in a better situation…. It's a perfect situation for him to be able to come and learn from one of the best."

Whitworth, a 12-year veteran, joined the Rams last season and helped solidify a line that includes center John Sullivan, guards Rodger Saffold and Jamon Brown and right tackle Rob Havenstein. The group protected quarterback Jared Goff and paved the way for running back Todd Gurley, the NFL's offensive player of the year.

"He's done it at a high level for a long time," McVay said of Whitworth, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, "but he also goes out of his way to really help develop guys, and I think that's what makes him so special.

"He was instrumental in really helping our line as a whole last year, and I know he'll do the same thing taking Joe underneath his arm and kind of guiding him along the way."

Noteboom is looking forward to Whitworth's mentorship.

"I know a lot about Whitworth, watched a lot of him," Noteboom said. "That's perfect — I learn from a Pro Bowler."

Noteboom was on the Rams' radar during the college season, and he improved his stock during Senior Bowl practices. He turned heads at the NFL scouting combine with impressive performances in several tests, including the 40-yard dash.

The Rams interviewed Noteboom at the combine and also had him in for a visit at their Thousand Oaks facility.

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"I had a good feeling they were interested," Noteboom said.

Snead said that selecting Noteboom was among the scenarios the Rams discussed going into Friday.

When their turn finally came, Noteboom was there to be taken. The Rams agreed to move back, enabling the Raiders to choose Louisiana State edge rusher Arden Key. Green Bay then selected Vanderbilt linebacker Oren Burks.

"We felt like Joe would fall based on the teams in front of us that we were going to move behind, who they had picked earlier and their roster situation," Snead said. "So it was 'OK, let's just get an extra pick and still try to get Joe as well.'"

The Rams have eight remaining picks, three in the fourth round and five in the sixth.

They remain in search of linebackers, especially those of the edge-rushing variety, to fortify a star-studded defense that includes linemen Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers, and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.

"We're well aware we're going to need some depth, probably, at that position," Snead said.

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

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