Los Angeles Rams 2021 Team Previewby Kamran Nia August 16, 2021 3 comments
The 2020 season had many ups and downs for the Los Angeles Rams. They were able to make it to the playoffs with a 10-6 record but lost in the divisional round to the Green Bay Packers. The defense became one of the best in the NFL led by Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and a breakout year from Leonard Floyd. Unfortunately, Jared Goff was unable to continue his growth as a player and held back the Rams on offense.
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In the offseason, the Rams made plenty of moves. Goff was sent to the Detroit Lions in a blockbuster deal along with picks for Matthew Stafford. Floyd re-signed with the team on a four-year deal and they added depth to their wide receiver room with DeSean Jackson and Tutu Atwell. Former defensive coordinator, Brandon Staley, accepted a head coaching position with the Los Angeles Chargers which creates some question marks for the defense in 2021. However, the Rams were able to hire Raheem Morris to be their new defensive coordinator. He spent the last five years with the Atlanta Falcons, last year as the defensive coordinator and interim head coach. The Rams lost several key players in the offseason, most notably Troy Hill, John Johnson III, and Michael Brockers.
On offense, the Rams have a lot of room for growth. Stafford provides consistency and will allow Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to thrive. The running back room took a major hit as Cam Akers will be out for the year due to a torn Achilles injury. Darrell Henderson Jr., Xavier Jones, and Jake Funk will attempt to fill his shoes this year, but there is a lot of uncertainty at the position. The offensive line has experience together, but it is hard to project its success as the group is aging. A large part of the Rams’ success on offense will depend on a questionable offensive line.
On defense, the Rams could be very successful, or not. Donald and Ramsey are stars and the linebacker and safety groups have a lot of upsides. The biggest question for the group will be whether or not Morris can elevate the group. Staley successfully made the good defense an elite one through coaching, but can Morris do the same?
Predicting the 53 Man Roster
Stafford is a consistent quarterback that could elevate the Rams this season. Behind him, Wolford has shown the ability to step up as he did leading them to a win over the Seahawks in the 2020 playoffs. The quarterback position is a strong one for the Rams this season.
An unfortunate Achilles injury to Akers sets the Rams back at the running back position. However, Henderson is a solid replacement. He rushed for 4.5 yards per carry last season and scored five touchdowns. Along with him, Jones and Funk will likely be utilized to provide versatility to the Rams backfield. Although the group is worse with Akers, it is not a major weakness for them.
The wide receiver group has the chance to be special in 2021 with Stafford as the quarterback. Woods has been very consistent throughout his career and Kupp’s after-the-catch ability is special. After the two, Jefferson, Jackson, and Atwell can all be deep threats for Stafford. The receiver position is well constructed and has the chance to excel for the Rams this year.
Higbee has a chance to boom this year with the departure of Gerald Everett. He has blocked and receiving capability which will be useful. Although Harris could start at the bottom of the group, he will make the roster. He is filled with potential and was the Rams’ fourth-round pick this year. Lastly, Hopkins and Mundt will probably make the final roster too, but it is a possibility the Rams choose to only keep one. The tight end group has a lot of upside and versatility for them and could be key to the Rams’ success in 2021.
The offensive line group is solid for the Rams. Pro Football Focus ranks the line as the eighth-best in the NFL heading into 2021. As a tackle, Whitworth leads the group but will be 39 years old heading into the year. With the possibility Corbett plays as the right guard, the center position could become is a weakness on the line. Regardless, the Rams have a slightly above-average line that will could boost their teams’ success in 2021.
The inside of the Rams’ line is outstanding. Donald is one of the best players in the league and a playmaker on the defensive line. Next to him, Robinson and Joseph-Day are solid players that can prop up the middle of the line. Multiple players can fill the last couple of spots as rotational linemen, but Gaines will probably make it and Brown and Banks would be decent bets to close out the position.
After losing Morgan Fox, Samson Ebukam, and Brockers over the offseason, some people may have questions about the Rams off the edge, but the position is still very strong. Floyd broke out last season and will likely have a big role this year. On the other side, there are question marks. Lewis will likely assume the role as the starter since Okoronkwo is more of a situational outside linebacker. Brown could also start alongside Floyd if Lewis’ knee problems continue or he outplays him for the role.
At the linebacker position, there are question marks for the Rams. All of the players listed above could not make the final roster except Jones since he was just drafted and likely will not be cut. Kiser and Reeder are solid players and have experience as starters, but it is hard to project the position right now.
At the cornerback position, the Rams are stacked. They have one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL with Ramsey and an above-average corner on the other side with Williams. Rochell, Long, and Deayon can provide depth making the position very strong for the Rams.
After the departure of Johnson, the Rams have a hole to fill at the safety position. Fuller will likely be the starting strong safety, but who will replace Johnson on the other side? The competition seems to be between Burgess and Rapp, both solid but not above average players. Since there is a lack of clarity at the linebacker and safety position the Rams could have problems on defense for the Rams in 2021.
Special teams seem much clearer for the Rams this year. Hekker will be the starting punter and Gay will likely be the starting kicker. Lastly, Steve Wirtel and Orzech are competing for the starting long snapper position.
One Player to Add
James Robinson is a player that would make sense for the Rams to trade for. With Akers going down to injury, they could rely on Henderson, Jones, and Funk to make up for his absence or continue being aggressive and get a high-level running back. Robinson proved last year he can be a workhorse back rushing for 1,070 yards. It would likely only cost the Rams a few mid-round picks since the Jacksonville Jaguars recently drafted Travis Etienne Jr. in the first round.
2021 Outlook & Odds
There is a lot to be excited about in 2021 for Rams fans. The team has a brand new quarterback and will be hoping to compete for a super bowl. The linebacker and safety positions are one’s to watch to see if the Rams can find consistency there. Their win total is set at 10.5 and they will likely be right around that total.
Season Prediction: 11-6 and Make the Playoffs as a Wild Card Team
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