The Los Angeles Rams filled their biggest offseason need by making the relocation to Los Angeles official. The team will officially open their new stadium in Inglewood for the 2019 season. Until then, the team must improve their on-field product via the NFL Draft and Free Agency.
Most Los Angeles fans might be content simply having a team in the area again. However, the Rams need on-field success to build a brand. Here are the Ram’s top five position needs headed into the 2016 offseason.
No. 1: Find a Franchise Quarterback
Quarterbacks Nick Foles and Case Keenum both flashed potential as starters with the Rams and at other various times of their careers. However, neither proved consistent ability to be a franchise game-changer.
Keenum’s 828 yards during five 2016 starts will not get it done in a NFL that becomes more pass-heavy each year. Somehow he did lead the team to a 3-2 record which was better than Nick Foles, who began the season as a starter.
As for Foles, his interception-to-touchdown ratio continued declining last season. Foles threw only seven touchdowns versus 10 interceptions, in 11 starts. That is not going to get it done even as a game-managing quarterback. Hence, the Rams must find a quarterback they can build around. Quarterbacks are the face of a franchise, and the Rams need a dynamic quarterback not two players with low ceilings. .
No. 2: Big-Time Receiver
Maybe the lack of a dominate receiver hurt the Rams’ quarterback play? Eitherway, the St. Louis Rams ranked dead last in offense for 2015. They need to leave that abomination in St. Louis by finding a receiver in the draft or free agency.
Tavon Austin was drafted in 2013 to be the big-play guy, however, he has not even registered more than 500 yards receiving. Austin did find a role in the offense, but he lacks ideal size to be an every down No. 1 receiver.
Again, the NFL relies on big-passing plays. If the Rams want to compete in the toughest defense division – the NFC West – they must find a consistent receiver.
No. 3: Offensive line help
The Rams did discover an identity in 2015, behind the explosive running back Todd Gurley. If Rams want to continue an identity surrounding Gurley and a dominate defense, they must add depth to the offensive line.
The offensive line for the Rams ranked at the top of the league, according to Football Outsiders. However, they were in the bottom eight for adjusted run blocking statistics.
Added depth to the offensive line will help the Rams keep Gurley healthy. It will also help them hide the deficiencies in the passing game alluded to earlier.
No. 4: Starting Safety
Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson both finished the season with positive accumulative grades from Pro Football Focus. Johnson finished second in the league with seven interceptions. However, the safety position did not play as well.
2012 No. 7 selection Mark Barron plays a hybrid linebacker role because his coverage skills were suspect. T.J. McDonald ranked in the bottom half of safeties with a negative grade, according to Pro Football Focus. McDonald also ended his season with a shoulder injury. Rodney McLeod also recorded seven interceptions, but the Rams need another solid player beside him.
The Rams defense could continue becoming one of the best in the league. They need to sure up their biggest whole with a physical strong safety.
No. 5: Defensive line depth
Defensive line is arguably the Rams strongest position built around players like Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn. However, the depth might become an issue considering the unit centers around the defensive line play.
End Chris Long brings a $14 million cap number which could make him a cap casualty. Long registered only four sacks in the past two seasons. Quinn is coming off a back injury, which limited him this season. Nick Fairley played solid in a rotational role, but he is a free agent who might command more money.
Therefore, the franchise must add to their strength by selecting someone in the draft or signing someone via free agency. They were able to get Fairley on a bargain in last year’s free agency. Expect them to add another veteran who could thrive surrounded by Donald and Quinn.
Ultimately, addressing these five priorities will make the Rams’ first season in Los Angeles a success. They will improve their on-field product and hit the ground running.
Latest posts by Pete D. Camarillo (see all)
- Chargers Free Agency 2020: Marquee Free Agents Left For L.A. - March 16, 2020
- Rams Free Agency 2020: Five Realistic Additions - March 16, 2020
- Lakers Suffer Let Down Versus Nets After Back-to-Back Wins Over The Elite - March 10, 2020