Los Angeles Rams 2017 NFL Season Preview


The Rams finished the 2015 season at 7-9, but were worse than their record suggested. Five of their 7 wins came by 8 points or fewer, while just 3 of those losses did. Their only wins by more than 8 points came at home against the Browns and 49ers, arguably the two least talented teams in the league in 2015. The Rams finished the season 28th in first down rate differential, ahead of only the Dolphins, Saints, Browns, and 49ers. Their defense played well, finishing 5th in first down rate allowed, but their offense only picked up first downs at a 29.13% rate, dead last in the NFL.

It was clear they needed to upgrade their offense, especially the quarterback position, but because they won so many close games, they had just the 15th pick in the draft, not an ideal spot to find a franchise quarterback. To fix this problem, the Rams made an aggressive move up the draft board to the #1 overall pick, sending #15, #43, #45, #76, and a first and third rounder in 2017 for #1, #113, and #177 from the Titans, who did not need a quarterback and could afford to move down and stockpile picks.

It was a surprising move, as neither of the draft class’ top-2 quarterbacks, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, were the type of can’t miss quarterback prospects that teams are willing give up a king’s ransom to get, but the Rams apparently fell in love with Goff and decided they had to have him. Despite all they gave up to get him, Goff spent the entire off-season behind veteran Case Keenum and did not make his first start until the Rams’ 10th game of the season in week 11.

That’s despite the fact that Keenum hardly impressed in his 9 starts. The veteran journeyman completed just 60.9% of his passes for an average of 6.84 YPA, 9 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. The Rams picked up first downs at a mere 30.25% rate in those 9 games, 2nd worst only to the Texans at that point in the season. Keenum finished the season 29th out of 34 eligible quarterbacks on Pro Football Focus.

It was confusing to many why they took so long to let Goff play, but the reason quickly became clear as soon as Goff took over as the starter. Goff didn’t look remotely ready for game action. As bad as their offense was with Keenum, they took a huge step backwards in Goff’s 7 starts, as they moved the chains at a ridiculously low 24.62% rate. Goff led the offense to just 88 first downs and 10 offensive touchdowns in 7 games and they finished the season dead last in first down rate for the 2nd straight season at 27.92%, significantly worse than their league worst rank from a season before. The gap between them and 31st ranked Houston (30.62%) was bigger than the gap between Houston and 24th ranked Minnesota.

Their offensive issues are not all Goff’s fault, as they really lack talent around the quarterback on offense, but there’s no denying that this offense got significantly worse when they switched from Keenum, a backup caliber talent, to Goff. Goff completed just 54.6% of his passes for an average of 5.31 YPA, 5 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions and took 26 sacks in 7 games. He finished the season as Pro Football Focus’ 2nd worst ranked quarterback behind only Blaine Gabbert. The Rams fired defensive minded head coach Jeff Fisher with 3 games left to go last season and then hired ex-Redskin offensive coordinator Sean McVay this off-season to replace him and hopefully inject some life into Goff’s career.

McVay worked alongside Jay Gruden on one of the best offenses in the league over the past couple of seasons and was instrumental in the development of Kirk Cousins. Goff is still only going into his age 23 season and you can’t call him a bust after just 1 season, but his career couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start and there are major concerns for his future. Given all they gave up for him, the Rams desperately need Goff to pan out. Their only other option at the quarterback position is Sean Mannion, a 2015 3rd round pick who has never made a start. If Goff continues to struggle, it’s conceivable that Mannion could see starts down the stretch, but Goff will be given every chance in 2017.

Grade: D

Offensive Line

After bringing in an offensive minded head coach, their first order of business this off-season was to upgrade Goff’s supporting cast. Without a first round pick due to the Goff trade, the Rams’ best option to immediately improve their offensive supporting cast this off-season was free agency. Fortunately, they had a good amount of cap space to use. Their biggest signing was Andrew Whitworth, who comes over from Cincinnati on a 3-year, 33.75 million dollar deal and will immediately slot in at left tackle.

Whitworth is going into his age 36 season in 2017 and ordinarily it isn’t a good idea to give a player who is that old that much money, but Whitworth hasn’t shown any signs of age, finishing last season 2nd among offensive tackles on Pro Football Focus. He’s also been a top-15 offensive tackle on Pro Football Focus in each of the last 8 seasons and has made 126 of 128 starts over that time period. It’s possible his abilities will fall off a cliff soon, but the Rams can get out of his deal after 1 year and 12.5 million if they want.

He will replace Greg Robinson, who has been arguably the worst left tackle in the league over the past 3 seasons. The 2nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Robinson came into the league with a ton of upside, but finished 2nd worst, 5th worst, and 8th worst among offensive tackles in 3 seasons in the league (42 starts). The Rams moved him to right tackle this off-season, but ended up trading him to the Lions for a 2018 6th round pick in June when he struggled there and got benched for Jamon Brown. Robinson was one of the biggest busts in recent draft history.

Brown is currently penciled in as the starting right tackle with Robinson out of the picture, but Rob Havenstein has made 28 starts at right tackle over the past 2 seasons since being drafted in the 2nd round in 2015 and has played well, finishing 26th and 33rd respectively among offensive tackles on Pro Football Focus. The current plan seems to be to move Havenstein to right guard and play Brown at right tackle, but Brown spent the last 2 seasons at right guard, so they could easily flip them back at some point.

Brown, a 3rd round pick in 2015, has been significantly worse than Havenstein through 2 years in the league, finishing 70th out of 81 eligible guards as a rookie in 2015 and then 55th out of 72 eligible guards last season. He also only made 14 starts over those 2 seasons. Cody Wichmann, a 6th round pick from 2015, actually played the most snaps at right guard last season, finishing 51st out of 72 eligible guards on 594 snaps (11 starts). He also struggled on 424 snaps as a rookie. Regardless of who plays where, the Rams should have at least one hole on the right side of the offensive line.

The Rams will start a pair of veterans at left guard and center in Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan. Saffold was a rare bright spot on this offensive line last season, finishing 26th among guards on Pro Football Focus in 15 starts. He’s no guarantee to do that again though, as he’s finished below average on Pro Football Focus 4 times in 7 seasons in the league and has missed 29 games with injury over that time period. They will need him to stay healthy and play well again because they don’t have an insurance plan behind him on the depth chart.

Sullivan, meanwhile, comes over from Washington, where he played just 98 snaps as the backup center for Sean McVay’s Redskins in 2016. Sullivan was once one of the better centers in the league. From 2011-2014, he made 63 of 64 starts with the Vikings and finished in the top-12 among centers in all 4 seasons, including 3 seasons in the top-3. However, he missed all of 2015 with a back injury and didn’t sign with the Redskins until week 3 last season, after being let go at final cuts by the Vikings. Going into his age 32 season, his best days are probably behind him, but he could prove to be a solid cheap signing by the Rams. It wouldn’t be hard for him to be better than Tim Barnes, who finished 31st out of 38 eligible centers on Pro Football Focus in 16 starts in 2016. This offensive line as a whole is improved, but they still have some problems.

Grade: B-

Receiving Corps

The Rams’ other big off-season signing was wide receiver Robert Woods, who comes over the from Bills on a 5-year, 34 million dollar deal. He’s really just a replacement for Kenny Britt though, as Britt signed with the Browns on a 4-year, 32.5 million dollar deal in free agency this off-season. He’s also a downgrade from Britt, as he finished 59th among wide receivers on Pro Football Focus last season, while Britt finished 39th.

Woods was better than his 51/613/1 slash line suggests as he played on a run heavy offense and averaged a respectable 1.61 yards per route run, but he still was only a league average wide receiver. Last season was also the highest rated season of his career. Still only going into his age 25 season, he’s younger than Britt and could continue getting better, but he’s a solid #2 receiver at best and not the #1 receiver this offense needs.

The Rams also lost their 2nd leading receiver from 2016 in free agency, as Brian Quick (41/564/3) signed with the Redskins this off-season. The Rams replaced him by using a 3rd round pick on Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp, who figures to have an immediate role. Kupp was one of the pro readiest receivers in this draft, even if it could take him a little bit to transition from the FCS level, where set pretty much every receiving record.

However, he’ll be a 24-year-old rookie and doesn’t have a huge upside. He’s only 14 months younger than Woods, who is already entering his 5th season in the league. This was also a weak wide receiver class overall, so calling him one of the pro readiest receivers in the draft doesn’t say a ton. Having to rely on a 3rd round rookie as your #2 receiver is not a good situation.

Kupp will compete for playing time with Tavon Austin. Austin was the 8th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but the 5-8 174 pounder hasn’t developed into anything more than a gadget player and return man in his career. He has finished below average in all 4 seasons in the league and the 509 receiving yards he had last season were the most he’s had in a single season in his career. He’s one of the fastest players in the league, but that hasn’t translated into him being a good wide receiver.

The Rams’ new coaching staff has talked him up as a deep threat this off-season, but that would be a huge shift in how he’s been used thus far in his career. His average catch has occurred just 3.62 yards from the line of scrimmage in his career, as he hasn’t shown the ability to do much other than catch short screens and try to make guys miss in the open field. He’s not going to be Sean McVay’s new DeSean Jackson.

Austin has added 968 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground on 125 career carries and dominates as a return man, but isn’t the traditional receiver they need. Ideally, he’d be only their #3 receiver and a slot specialist because he doesn’t have the size to make catches on the outside. The 4-year, 42 million dollar extension they gave him last season looks like one of the biggest mistakes a team has made in recent years. That contract guaranteed him 28.5 million in new money and doesn’t have an out until after next season.

The Rams also got rid of tight end Lance Kendricks this off-season, as part of a complete overhaul of their receiving corps. Kendricks had a decent 50/499/2 slash line in 2016, but finished 54th out of 63 eligible tight ends on Pro Football Focus on 830 snaps, so he won’t be a big loss. Like Brian Quick, the Rams also replaced him with a rookie, using their 2nd round pick on South Alabama’s Gerald Everett.

Everett is an athletic freak with a huge upside and has been compared to Jordan Reed, who McVay had in Washington, but he could struggle as a rookie because he comes from a small school and is very raw as a route runner and a run blocker. He’ll compete for playing time with Tyler Higbee, a 2016 4th round pick who finished 58th out of 63 eligible tight ends on 402 snaps last season. Both should have roles in what is still a thin receiving corps. They need young players to step up in a hurry.

Grade: C-

Running Backs

Perhaps the most disappointing player in the league last season from a statistical standpoint was Todd Gurley. The 10th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Gurley burst onto the scene as a rookie by rushing for 1106 yards and 10 touchdowns on 229 carries (4.83 YPC), but managed just 885 yards and 6 touchdowns on 278 carries in 2016 (3.18 YPC), ruining many fantasy seasons. Gurley was definitely worse from 2015 to 2016, but he wasn’t as good as his numbers looked in 2015 or as bad as his numbers looked in 2016. He fell from 15th among running backs in 2015 on Pro Football Focus to 33rd, which is still about middle of the pack.

The big difference was in 2015 he busted 11 runs of 20+ yards on 229 carries (4.8%), but in 2016 he had just 2 on 278 carries (0.7%). In 2015, he had 38.7% of his yardage on those 11 carries, but managed just 46 total yards on his two 20-yard carries in 2016. In 2015, he only picked up 45 first downs on those 229 carries, a 19.7% rate. That rate isn’t much better than the 17.3% rate he picked them up at in 2017. He should have more long runs in 2017 and he still has obvious upside going into his age 23 season, but he’s unlikely to match his YPC from 2015, especially given how little talent there is on this offense.

The one area where Gurley actually did improve from 2015 to 2016 was in the passing game. After catching just 21 passes for 188 yards in 2015, he caught 43 passes for 327 yards in 2016. In 2015, he was replaced by Benny Cunningham in most obvious passing situations and played just 456 snaps in 13 games. In 2016, he played 748 snaps in 16 games, including 428 pass snaps. It’s unclear how much of a role in the passing game he will have in 2017.

In Washington, Sean McVay’s offense always used Chris Thompson in a pure passing down role and the Rams have talked up free agent acquisition Lance Dunbar as that type of player, but McVay also was dealing with lead backs like Alfred Morris and Rob Kelley, who are not useful in passing situations. Gurley is a much more well-rounded back and capable of playing every down, so they might not want to take him off the field for Dunbar regularly, especially since doing so would signal to the defense when they are going to pass and when they are going to run.

Dunbar has just 68 career catches in 54 games, but that’s because he spent most of his career as a 3rd or 4th running back. In 2015 with the Cowboys, he was their primary passing down back and caught 21 passes in 4 games before tearing his ACL. In 2016, he was phased out of the offense and had just 25 touches on 143 snaps. The Rams guaranteed him 1.375 million on a 1.5 million dollar deal this off-season, so it seems like they have a role in mind for him, but it’s unclear how much he’ll actually play. He has a career 4.49 YPC average, but is undersized at 5-8 195 and has just 94 career carries, so he isn’t much of a threat for carries, even if Gurley were to get hurt. Gurley’s primary backup for carries could be Malcolm Brown, a 2015 undrafted free agent with 56 yards on 22 career carries. They would be in serious trouble if Gurley were to get hurt because he’s their only offensive play maker.

Grade: B+

Defensive Line

The Rams had one of the best defenses in the league in 2015, but fell to 16th in first down rate allowed in 2016. As a result of that and their horrendous offense, they finished dead last in first down rate differential at -7.63%%, a full point lower than Cleveland (-6.22%), and over 2 points lower than San Francisco (-5.08%). On the season, they allowed 80 more first downs and 21 more offensive touchdowns than they scored.

They won 4 games, but by a combined 18 points, while their 12 losses came by a combined 188 points, an average margin of defeat of 15.67. Their -170 point differential was just ahead of San Francisco (-171) and Cleveland (-188). The Browns and 49ers won a combined 3 games last season, but you could argue the Rams were worse than both of those teams, especially after Jared Goff took over as quarterback. They lost all 7 of his starts by an average of 19.4 points per game.

Given their issues on offense, their defense will have to bounce back in 2017 for this team to even be respectable. The problem is their decline from 2015 to 2016 was largely as a result of the loss of several starters last off-season, including talented defensive backs Rodney McLeod and Janoris Jenkins, who signed big contracts in free agency with the Eagles and Giants respectively. They still haven’t done anything to replace those guys and in fact they lost even more talent this off-season. Their talent level is nowhere near their 2015 level. The good news is they hired legendary defensive coordinator Wade Phillips this off-season, after the Broncos’ new coaching staff let him go. Phillips has always had a way of getting the most out of his talent. If this defense is improved in 2017, his leadership and scheme will likely be a big reason why. Phillips will convert this defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4.

Phillips will get to work with one incredibly talented defensive player in Aaron Donald, who will transition from defensive tackle to defensive end in this new defense. The 14th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Donald has quickly become one of the best players in the league and, for my money, the best player in the league. He’s finished #1 among defensive tackles on Pro Football Focus in all 3 seasons in the league and was their highest rated defensive player regardless of position last season.

JJ Watt has had better sack numbers, but Watt is going into his 7th season in the league and coming off of a back injury, while Donald is just entering his 4th season (his age 25 season) and hasn’t missed a single game with injury yet. Donald is also a better run stopper and plays a position where it is tougher to get sacks from, especially on a team that is consistently trailing and rarely plays with a lead.

Watt actually played the position that Donald will play this season when Phillips was the defensive coordinator in Houston. Donald could easily exceed his career high of 11 sacks this season at a new position, while still playing at a high level against the run. The Rams’ offense will limit sack opportunities for him, but he’s my early favorite for Defensive Player of the Year. The combination of his talent and Phillips’ coaching and scheme could be deadly for the rest of the league.

In their 4-3 defense last year, Michael Brockers and Dominique Easley split snaps at defensive tackle next to Donald, with Brockers playing in base packages and Easley playing in sub packages. In their new 3-4, Brockers will stay as a base package nose tackle, while Easley will start at the other defensive end spot opposite Donald. Undersized at 6-2 285, Easley struggled against the run in a 4-3 and was only a part-time player as a result, but he could be an every down player in this new 3-4.

A 2014 1st round pick like Donald, Easley was selected 29th overall by the Patriots, but injuries limited him to just 545 snaps in 22 games in 2 seasons in New England and, even though he played well when healthy, the Patriots surprisingly cut him last off-season. The Patriots’ loss was the Rams’ gain, as he finished 15th among defensive tackles on 470 snaps in 2016 and played all 16 games. Now going into his age 25 season, he has breakout potential in this new 3-4 defense. He profiles similar to Malik Jackson, who had a lot of success as a defensive end in Phillips’ defense in Denver. The one big concern with Easley is he has major injury issues dating back to his collegiate days at the University of Florida, where he tore both of his ACLs.

Brockers is also a former first round pick, going 14th overall in 2012. The big 6-5 326 pounder has finished above average as a run stopper on Pro Football Focus in 4 of the 5 seasons in the league, including 3 straight seasons, but has never once finished above average as a pass rusher and has just 14.5 sacks in 5 seasons in the league. He finished last season 13th among defensive tackles on Pro Football Focus, but only played 419 snaps as a part-time player.

The Rams gave him a 3-year, 33.25 million extension last off-season ahead of what would have been the final year of his rookie deal, but they’re probably regretting that now, given how one dimensional he is and given that he’s locked into a pure base package role in their new 3-4 defense. That deal guaranteed him 25.25 million in new money between his signing bonus and his 2017 and 2018 salaries. He’s the highest paid nose tackle in the league in terms of average annual salary. He’ll be a strong run stuffer for them, but isn’t worth what they’re paying him.

Tyrunn Walker will be their primary reserve on the line, after the Rams signed him as a free agent from the Lions this off-season. A 2012 undrafted free agent, Walker showed promise in the first action of his career in 2013 and 2014, finishing above average on 119 and 308 snaps respectively, but he hasn’t been able to translate that to a larger role. He struggled in 4 starts in 2015 before breaking his leg and missing the rest of the season and then struggled upon his return in 2016, flashing below average on 377 snaps in 15 games (8 starts). He isn’t bad depth though and this is overall a very strong defensive line.

Grade: A


Along with Phillips coming in, one thing that could be a big boost for this defense is if Robert Quinn stayed healthy, after he missed 7 games with injury last season. However, Quinn also missed 8 games the year before, so that’s far from a guarantee, and they finished last season with the fewest adjusted games lost to injury in the league, so they can’t really count on being healthier overall. Injuries are a part of the game and the Rams struggled without really dealing with them (outside of Quinn) last season.

Quinn was a top-11 3-4 defensive end in 2013, and 2014, and 2015 before getting injured, so he has bounce back potential, still only going into his age 27 season, but he did not look like himself last season when on the field and has played in just 17 of his last 32 games. He’ll move from defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker with Phillips coming in and play the old DeMarcus Ware role. He’d likely struggle if ever asked to cover, but Phillips will put him in spots where he can succeed and likely won’t see his passing down role changed much from what he’s used to.

He will start opposite Connor Barwin, who was signed to 1-year, 3.5 million dollar deal as a free agent this off-season, replacing William Hayes, who finished last season 10th among 4-3 defensive ends on Pro Football Focus, but wasn’t a good fit for a 3-4 defense. Barwin was cut by the Eagles this off-season, but that was because he was owed 7.75 million and wasn’t a good fit for their 4-3 defense. He finished last season 6th worst among 4-3 defensive ends on Pro Football Focus, but finished above average in 3 of the previous 5 seasons in a 3-4 defense and has experience with Wade Phillips from his early years in Houston.

The biggest concern with Barwin is he’s going into his age 31 season and seems to have lost a step over the past couple seasons, regardless of scheme. He’s an underwhelming starter, but their only other option is Ethan Westbrooks, a 2014 undrafted free agent who has finished below average in all 3 seasons in the league. Westbrooks played 533 snaps at 4-3 defensive end  in a rotational role last season with Quinn hurt and figures to be their primary reserve 3-4 outside linebacker in 2017.

Mark Barron and Alec Ogletree remain as every down linebackers. Ogletree will remain inside with the scheme switch, while Barron will move from outside linebacker to inside linebacker. Barron, the 7th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, was a bust at safety for the first 3 years of his career in Tampa Bay, but was traded to the Rams for a late round pick during the 2014 season and made the transition to linebacker the following off-season. That move has paid off in a big way, as he’s finished 20th and 32nd among off-ball linebackers over the past 2 seasons, while making 28 straight starts. Still in his prime, only going into his age 28 season, Barron should continue playing at a high level in 2017.

Ogletree started his career at outside linebacker, but broke his leg 4 games into the 2015 season, which allowed Barron to take over, and then, after Barron broke out, Ogletree moved inside for the 2016 season. Ogletree returned to play all 16 games in 2016 and the 2013 1st round pick played all 32 games in his first 2 seasons in the league before the injury. The problem is he’s finished below average in all 4 seasons in the league.

Ogletree isn’t a bad player, but he hasn’t lived up to his first round draft slot or his immense athletic upside. Owed 8.369 million in the final year of his rookie deal in 2017, the Rams have a big decision to make on him in the next year. He’s still only going into his age 26 season and has a high ceiling, but hasn’t shown it on the field. The Rams have good upside in the linebacking corps, but also considerable downside.

Grade: B-


As mentioned, the Rams lost safety Rodney McLeod and cornerback Janoris Jenkins last off-season. This off-season, they lost their other safety TJ McDonald, who was about a league average starter last season. To replace him, LaMarcus Joyner will move from slot cornerback to safety. A 2014 2nd round pick, Joyner is coming off the best season of his career, finishing 30th among cornerbacks on 699  snaps, after barely playing as a rookie and struggling on 730 snaps in his 2nd year in the league in 2015. Joyner has played cornerback, safety, and even some linebacker thus far in his career, but figures to be an every down safety in the final year of his rookie deal in 2017. A solid season could earn him a decent sized contract on the open market next off-season.

Joyner will start opposite Mo Alexander, who was a pleasant surprise in his first full season as a starter in 2016. After struggling mightily in the first 5 starts of his career in 2015, finishing 2nd worst among safeties on Pro Football Focus, the 2014 4th round pick shot up to 17th in 2016 in 14 starts. He’s a complete one-year wonder and could easily regress this season, but another strong season would also get him a good sized contract on the open market next off-season. The Rams will have decisions to make in the next year to avoid losing more talent at the safety position.

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson will also be a free agent next off-season, although that’s been the case for each of the previous two seasons as well, as he’s been franchise tagged in back-to-back off-seasons. A 2012 3rd round pick, Johnson had a breakout year in the final year of his rookie deal in 2015, finishing 19th among cornerbacks on Pro Football Focus and was franchise tagged instead of fellow cornerback Janoris Jenkins. The Rams understandably didn’t want to commit to a long-term deal with him until he proved himself again, which he did in 2016, when he finished 25th among cornerbacks, but now they don’t want to give him a long-term deal until he’s proven himself in Wade Phillips’ defense.

The Rams will pay him 30.7 million fully guaranteed between 2016 and 2017 on the two franchise tags, which is probably more than he’s worth, and franchise tagging him for a 3rd time next off-season would cost them at least 24.11 million, making that not a realistic option. If he has another strong season, the Rams would likely be forced to either let him walk or pay him at least what Desmond Trufant got on his extension this off-season (68.75 million over 5 years). Johnson is a good player, but he’s not a top level corner and might not be worth that kind of dough.

With Joyner moving to safety, incumbent #2 cornerback EJ Gaines will compete for playing time with a pair of free agent acquisitions, Kayvon Webster and Nickell Robey-Coleman. Gaines burst onto the scene as a mere 6th round rookie in 2014, finishing 29th among cornerbacks on Pro Football Focus in 15 starts, but his career has since been derailed by injuries. He missed all of 2015 with a foot injury and then was limited to 10 starts by more leg injuries in 2016. He also did not remotely resemble his old self in 2016, finishing 106th out of 111 eligible cornerbacks. He’s entering a make or break final year of his rookie deal and could easily lose his starting job this off-season.

Webster only has 2 career starts in 4 seasons in the league, but got 7.75 million on a 2-year deal and is familiar with Wade Phillips’ scheme from Denver, so he’s much more likely to earn a role than Robey-Coleman, a slot specialist who signed for near the minimum this off-season. Webster never played much in Denver and didn’t show much when he did play, but he was a 3rd round pick in 2013 and Phillips seems to like him. Robey-Coleman, meanwhile, is a capable slot cornerback, but isn’t a realistic option outside because of his lack of size at 5-8 165. This should be an underwhelming secondary once again.

Grade: B-


The Rams do have a few things going for them. They have one of the youngest rosters in football and could easily be better this season if some of that young talent develops. They also should be much better coached with Sean McVay and Wade Phillips coming in. And they adding a much needed blindside protector in free agency when they signed Andrew Whitworth from the Bengals.

However, they were one of the worst teams in the league last season, arguably the worst once Goff took over, despite barely having any injuries. They also lost more talent on defense this off-season, with talented starters like TJ McDonald and William Hayes going elsewhere. On paper, this is one of the least talented rosters in the league and, while they could exceed their talent level because of good coaching, especially on defense with Phillips, it’s hard to see them winning more than 5 or so games. 

Final update: The Rams acquired Sammy Watkins in a trade with the Bills, but paid a steep price, sending a 2nd round pick and cornerback EJ Gaines. Watkins upgrades this receiving corps, but is a major injury risk and the loss of Gaines thins their depth at cornerback. The Rams also lost defensive end Dominique Easley, a projected starter, to a torn ACL. In addition, their other projected starting defensive end Aaron Donald is holding out for a new contract and may miss the beginning of the season. Donald is one of the best defensive players in the league, so any time he misses is a huge loss for this team. Even when he returns, he might not be in perfect shape and could be less than 100%. This looks like a long season for the Rams, who are likely giving up a top-40 pick in the Watkins trade.

Prediction: 3-13, 3rd in NFC West

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