Los Angeles Rams March Scouting Report
New Year, new era! The Covid-19 pandemic hit us hard a year ago and the Los Angeles Rams released one of their top stars in Todd Gurley. It is a year later and even though we are still dealing with the pandemic, progress has been made with vaccines, social distancing, and wearing masks. The Rams made the first big move of the off season and hope they made progress when they traded franchise quarterback Jared Goff along with two first round picks (’22 & ’23) and this year’s third round pick for Lions QB Matthew Stafford. The Rams are all in for the Super Bowl run and anything short of a Super Bowl appearance in 2021 should be considered a failure. Let’s take a look at the transactions the Rams have made since free agency opened.
PLAYERS THE RAMS ADDED:
QB Matthew Stafford: The Rams are putting their title hopes in the hands of the 33-year old former number one overall pick. Stafford has been praised for his special on-field skills as well as his football acumen and being a great teammate. The Rams are hoping all of those attributes shine in Los Angeles as they mortgaged the future to attain him. The pessimist will focus on the fact that in his 12 year NFL career, Stafford is 0-3 in the Post Season. The optimist will tell you Stafford has never had a team and coach as talented as he has now with the Rams and HC Sean McVay. The realist will agree with both views and let the season play out. I am a realist.
WR DeSean Jackson: Jackson was brought to Los Angeles to provide speed and a deep threat the team lacked when it traded away Brandin Cooks. DeSean is 34 years old but still possesses elite speed and quickness. McVay coached Jackson in Washington and the two and good chemistry. The only concern with DeSean is staying healthy as he has been limited by injuries the past two seasons. It will be very interesting and exciting to see how Jackson is used with starters WR Robert Woods and WR Cooper Kupp.
PLAYERS THE RAMS RETAINED:
LB Leonard Floyd: Floyd signed a one year contract in 2020 and had the best season of his young NFL career with 10.5 sacks. He parlayed that success into a massive 4-year $64,000,000 contract to stay in Los Angeles. The Rams welcome Floyd back and will pair him with DPOY Aaron Donald to give them a formidable pass rush. Leonard is being paid as a top notch defender and could have an even better second season with the team. Floyd is a significant piece for the number one ranked defense.
OT Andrew Whitworth: After signing a three year contract in 2020, the team Captain had a tremendous season, playing at a high level and overcoming a serious injury to help the team to a playoff victory. On top of his on field excellence, Andrew showed true leadership and unselfishness by recently agreeing to a $3,000,000 pay cut to help the team get under the salary cap. Andrew will protect Stafford’s blind side while providing valuable leadership and financial assistance for the franchise. Andrew Whitworth is one of the most valuable players even at his advanced age.
CB Darious Williams: Williams was an undrafted free agent whom the Rams claimed off waivers in 2018. Since then, he has developed into a solid player and in 2021 started opposite All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey. Darious played at Pro-Bowl caliber and the Rams placed a First-Round tender on the restricted free agent. He has not received any offers from another team and should return to start for Los Angeles in 2021.
PLAYERS THE RAMS LOST:
DL Michael Brockers: Brockers was one of the longest tenured Rams but was not willing to restructure his contract so he was traded to Detroit for a measly seventh-round pick in 2023. These are the type of moves you regret, as Brock has been a solid starter since he was drafted in 2012. Hopefully this decision does not come back to haunt the Rams.
FS John Johnson: Johnson came back from an injury shortened 2019 season to have a solid 2020 season. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Johnson was one of the top free agent safeties and the Rams could not afford to keep him. Johnson signed with the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles will replace him with youngsters DB Taylor Rapp and DB Terrell Burgess.
CB Troy Hill: Hill joined the Rams in 2015 of waivers and like Darious Williams, developed into a dependent player. 2020 was Hills best season as a professional and Troy led the NFL with three defensive touchdowns. Hill followed John Johnson to Cleveland and Los Angeles will look to CB David Long Jr. to fill his spot.
LB Samson Ebukam: Samson was a part time starter and had a career game against the Chiefs in 2018 with two defensive touchdowns. Ebukam signed with the 49ers and will now face the team that drafted him. Los Angeles drafted LB Terrell Lewis last year and if the second year player can stay healthy, he has a good chance to start opposite Floyd.
TE Gerald Everett: Gerald was a player who flashed potential but was not consistent enough, either due to health or performance, to beat out TE Tyler Higbee as the starter. Everett signed with Seattle and like Ebukam will face the Rams twice a season. The Rams still have TE Johnny Mundt and 2021 draft pick TE Brycen Hopkins to provide tight end depth behind Higbee.
WR Josh Reynolds: Reynolds signed with the Titans and is the fourth member of the 2017 draft class (along with Everett, Johnson, and Ebukam) to cash in on a second contract. WR Cooper Kupp is the only drafted player from that year still with the Rams. Los Angeles should not miss Reynolds much as second year WR Van Jefferson and free agent WR DeSean Jackson should more than make up for Josh’s departure.
QB Jared Goff: The NFL is a quarterback driven league and those players inevitably receive too much credit or blame depending on their team’s success or failure. Jared was a potential MVP candidate who led his team to the Super Bowl in 2018 and signed a record contract extension. Three years later and the Rams trade Jared and two first-round picks to acquire a 33-year old Stafford with zero playoff wins. We live in a microwave world with expectations for immediate results. Patience is a luxury that NFL teams do not have so Goff was the scape goat for the his team’s inability to win a championship.
PLAYERS ON THE BUBBLE:
OL Austin Blythe: Blythe signed a one year deal in 2020 and started every game at center but has yet to sign with any time. As of this writing, the Minnesota Vikings were negotiating with Austin. I would not mind if Blythe returned to the Rams as OL Brian Allen has not been able to stay healthy and has not been impressive when he has been on the field.
Last year my March report mentioned Los Angeles going through a huge makeover by losing the heart and soul of the offense and several coaches including their defensive coordinator. Ironically, the team is in the same situation this year saying good bye to Goff as well as DC Brandon Staley (hired by the Chargers as the new Head Coach). The team also lost several prominent players and needs to replace them with current players and the Draft as Los Angeles has minimal cap space. I am excited to see what this offense accomplishes with Stafford at quarterback and second year improvement from RB Cam Akers. The NFL was able to complete the 2020 season during the pandemic but no fans were allowed in the new SOFI stadium. If someone told you in 2018 that neither Todd Gurley nor Jared Goff would play a home game with fans in SOFI, what would be your response? This crazy fact should be a reminder of how precious every day is and what little control we really have besides controlling our effort and attitude. I send continued prayers to everyone during the pandemic and continued healing for my brother Strat. Hope all of you stay safe and think of others before yourself. Love and blessings to my family. Miss you Pops! Aloha!
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