By Paul Wanecski
Last season, the Los Angeles Rams went all-in on Jared Goff. Unfortunately, the Rams have yet to win any of the 7 games he started. Not many people felt like Goff was a plug-and-play guy, primarily former head coach Jeff Fischer. Now that the team is under rookie head coach Sean McVay (and without a first round pick this year after trading it away to draft Goff), the Rams are taking an offense that was near dead last across the board and trying to find a way to inject it with some life.
Head Coach: Sean McVay
Career Record: 0-0
Offensive Coordinator (Rank): Matt LaFleur
32nd YPG, 31st Pass, 31st Run
Defensive Coordinator (Rank): Wade Phillips
9th YPG, 10th Pass, 16th Rush
The price paid to draft Jared Goff was, as you expect, pretty steep. The performance of the defense last year won’t be replicated under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, as the team will look to move from a 4-3 front to his traditional 3-4 (like what you have seen with the Houston Texans). With that being said, the Rams have major offensive line needs, no wide receiver depth, trouble at the cornerback position, and lack a first round pick to get top talent. The Rams, after the draft, still only have about $3.5m in salary cap space, a major problem when you are basically looking to annex players on your roster that no-longer fit your scheme. They have eight total selections, the first being #37 overall.
Trumaine Johnson – CB – The team could still find a way to rework his deal, which current is paying him a fully guaranteed $16.7m. It is more likely he will want to test the open market after this season, however, the former 3rd round pick is being overpaid currently. If the team could extend him 3 seasons, moving his base salary down to $5m per season, along with a $16m signing bonus, that would pay him more than he is making this season and would drop his cap hit to near $11m. That’s not going to happen though.
Tavon Austin – WR – What the hell were the Rams thinking when they extended Austin 4 years and $42m? He was coming off a season in 2015 where he scored nine total touchdowns (rushing and receiving) however, it doesn’t take long to ask yourself why the team would make a commitment like that to a player who has only surpassed 500 yards receiving once. The team will not be able to do anything this season, but next year the guaranteed money in the contract trails off where they can start saving salary cap space with his release or trade. The interesting thing is that his contract contained only guaranteed money and no signing bonus, meaning after 2019, he can be cut at no cost.
Kenny Britt – WR – Britt was not retained (for what Cleveland paid to sign him, the Rams were smart to tap out early). His production can be easily replaced.
Brian Quick – WR – Also another guy who could be replaced.
It is far from a stretch to say that the Rams likely won’t be any better this year compared to last year. Glaring holes across the entire offensive line, depth a wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker…really, no pick is a bad pick. Positions like cornerback have a tendency to fly off the board in waves, so that can be pretty difficult to gauge. Again, we are looking outside of the first round, so you will be looking at possibly the following:
- Sidney Jones (CB, Washington) Tore his Achilles during his Pro Day. His plummet is only associated with that since he will likely be out the entire year. Once talked about as one of the top three players at the position, since the Rams don’t really look to get any better this year, he is a risk worth taking.
- Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State) His teammate, Marshon Lattimore, will be long gone by then but Conley comes in with great press-man skills, 4.4 forty speed, and has the size and burst to play in the NFL. It will be interesting to see him move from man coverage to zone coverage, but coming from Ohio State, it should be an easier transition.
- Kevin King (CB, Washington) King is sure to benefit from teammate Jones being put on the shelf. At 6’3”, King brings rare size to the CB group. He was a scouting combine all-star, flashing 4.4 forty speed. Scheme will be important to his development.
- Pat Elflein (C, Ohio State) Far from a sexy pick but you need a starter with that second round pick and that’s exactly what you are going to get.
- Zach Banner, Antonio Garcia (OT, UCS/Troy) Two VERY different players. Banner is a massive man who will likely move inside to guard. Garcia is the polar opposite of former top draft pick Greg Robinson (who is quickly reaching bust-territory). Garcia carries a very thin frame for the tackle position but has all the other tools to come in and compete right away.
- Carlos Henderson (WR, Louisiana Tech) This college has been turning out talent recently but still remains overlooked. He can bring an exciting dynamic into the kick return game. Left school early to enter draft.
- TJ Watt (LB, Wisconsin) The connection here is pretty simple; TJ is a linebacker and his brother is JJ Watt, who Wade Phillips is clearly familiar.
Robert Woods – WR – The best thing for Todd Gurley was to bring Robert Woods in from Buffalo. A very aggressive run-blocking wideout, Woods instantly helps the running game. Did the Rams overpay him? Sure did.
Andrew Whitworth – T – The offensive line was a disaster last year. Whitworth is 35 years old, expensive, but immediately becomes the best lineman on the roster.
Kayvon Webster – CB – Well…he hasn’t intercepted a pass since 2013…but he will start...for now. He played under Wade Phillips with the Broncos and was captain of the teams special teams unit.
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