2018 Los Angeles Rams Depth Chart
By Nathanael Gabler
|Quarterback||Jared Goff||Sean Mannion||Brandon Allen|
|Running Back||Todd Gurley||Malcolm Brown||Justin Davis|
|Left Wide Receiver||Robert Woods||Josh Reynolds||Pharaoh Cooper|
|Right Wide Receiver||Brandin Cooks||Pharaoh Cooper||JoJo Natson|
|Tight End||Tyle Higbee||Gerald Everett||Johnny Mundt|
|Left Tackle||Andrew Whitworth||Joseph Noteboom|
|Left Guard||Rodger Saffold||Austin Blythe|
|Center||John Sullivan||Brian Allen|
|Right Guard||Jamon Brown|
|Right Tackle||Rob Haventein|
The 2017 Rams season marked what was one of the more remarkable single season turnarounds in the history of the NFL. In 2016, the Rams were the worst offense in the league, scoring only 14 points per game (1.5ppg worse than the 31st ranked Browns). In 2017, the team scored 29.9 points per game, the most in the entire NFL. Jared Goff was a bust in 2016; in 2017 he showed flashes of why General Manager Les Snead took him first overall. Todd Gurley’s 2016 campaign made his rookie explosion seem like a fluke; in 2017 he was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
All this shows what a difference one-year can make in the NFL – especially when there’s a coaching change involved. Offensive wonderkid Sean McVay is responsible for a lot of the offensive fireworks we saw in Los Angeles in 2017 and based on the moves the team made this offseason, the Rams’ Super Bowl window is now.
Les Snead and the Rams’ offseason resembled that of a teenager playing Madden with a bottomless checkbook. The Rams shipped linebacker Alec Ogletree and edge rusher Robert Quinn for two picks a piece, traded two picks (including a 2019 2nd rounder) for Chiefs corner Marcus Peters, got Aquib Talib from the Broncos for a 5th rounder, shipped two picks (including their 2018 first) to New England for Brandon Cooks, and signed Ndamukong Suh to a one-year contract. They did get some picks in return for Talib and Peters, but this Rams team – especially on the defensive side of the ball – is going to look much different than last year.
It’s hard to imagine the Rams offense improving too much in Sean McVay’s second year. That being said, it is McVay’s second year. Many of the offensive mainstays from 2017 return, with the exception of the Sammy Watkins for Brandon Cooks swap, and everyone should theoretically be more comfortable in their second-year of diving into McVay’s system.
The Rams were second in the league in play action passes last year at 29%, and Jared Goff led the league in yards off of play action with 1446 yards (second was Tom Brady at 1270). Obviously, it helps play action when your running back is Todd Gurley, but guess what? Todd Gurley isn’t going anywhere – the Rams gave Gurley a 4 year, $57.5 million extension in the offseason.
To add to the tools Goff has at his disposal are arguably the best weapons in the league, outside of maybe Pittsburgh. Brandin Cooks should slot into the Sammy Watkins role in this offense, which is interesting in two ways. It’s worth noting that two different coaching staffs (Sean Payton in New Orleans and Bill Belichick in New England) let him walk. The counter to that is that McVay and Snead decided to trade two valuable draft picks for Cooks, before handing him a 5-year contract that averages $16.2 million per. They clearly see something in the 24-year-old. Let’s not forget LA also returns Cooper Kupp, who actually led the team in receiving and targets last year from the slot in 2017, and Robert Woods. Oh and Todd Gurley is a pretty capable receiver in his own right (788 yards and 6 receiving TDs in 2017).
The 2018 Rams defense is going to be a fascinating experiment in plug-and-play roster construction. It’s one of the most interesting offseason storylines that is somehow flying under the radar. Five starters from last season’s defense, that finished 6th by DVOA, are gone. The strong point of last year’s team – the pass D – is completely revamped. Trumaine Johnson is now a Jet; replacing him are Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, both of whom the Rams acquired via trade this offseason.
Talib has played in DC Wade Phillips’ system before in Denver, and Peters is one of the more aggressive, playmaking corners in the league. Up front, everyone knows about Aaron Donald. He’s arguably the best defensive player in the league, but he’s yet to report to camp while looking for a new contract. They paired Donald on the inside with Ndamukong Suh on a one-year deal. The interior of that line is just straight up terrifying for opposing quarterbacks. The troubling part of the defense is the linebacker spot. Two starters from last year, in Alec Ogletree and Connor Barwin are no longer with the team, replaced by little known Corey Littleton and Sampson Ebukam. Phillips has his work cut out for him.