Skip to main content

Current Los Angeles Rams Receiving Depth. Need For More?

“I would never say never.” That is pretty much the entirety of what Sean McVay had to say about the prospect of adding Odell Beckham Jr. to the now trimmed-down wide receiver room. Of course, you can never say never when you have Les Snead at helm, ready to pull the trigger on seismic league-altering moves. Although, the prospect of adding Beckham to the roster has very little to do with the current state of the Rams receiving depth. So, just take that enticing notion and tuck it in your pocket till Monday at 1pm PST when Beckham can be claimed off waivers. But until then, with DeSean Jackson gone and Tutu Atwell out for the year, what will the Rams receiving depth chart look like for the foreseeable future? 

What The Rams Lost

Atwell had played just 10 snaps on offense and had zero targets on those snaps. He had also had reps as the teams kick and punt returner. The Rams have struggled to find a return specialist that can even stay healthy, much less one that is good at the job. With Atwell’s injury, the struggle continues. The Rams have already brought J.J. Koski on to the 53 man roster. He will likely be the next candidate for the job. 

Jackson didn’t get a lot of targets, but he made some instrumental plays against the Seahawks and against the Buccaneers. He was being used exactly how everyone imagined he would be: use that speed to vertically stretch the field. His average depth of target leads the league. But he wanted a different role, specifically one with more playing time. The fact that McVay didn’t find a way to get him in the game reveals a lot about his priorities in the passing game. Jackson didn’t want to be a role player and McVay wanted to use him situationally. Les Snead even called adding Jackson an “experiment.” So the team allowed him to walk. 

The biggest loss in Jackson is the insurance he provides if the starters miss time due to injury. For instance, Robert Woods is listed as “Questionable” with a foot injury. Most would feel more comfortable with Jackson starting than, say, Ben Skowronek.

Starters

Cooper Kupp is on pace to have one of the best receiving seasons of all-time. He is Matthew Stafford’s favorite target. Kupps 90 targets account for 32.8 percent of all Staffords pass attempts and Kupps 924 yards make up 37.3 percent of the teams passing yards. Kupp is proving that he is in the conversation of best wide receivers in the league.

Perhaps the only bad thing about Kupp having such a phenomenal year is that Robert Woods’ contribution is being overshadowed. Woods has caught four touchdowns (only 10 wide receivers have more) and moved the chains 29 times (only 10 wide receivers have more first downs) with only 38 catches. Which means Stafford is looking for Woods in high leverage situations. Meanwhile, he also is graded seventh highest in the league among wide receivers in pass blocking grade by Pro Football Focus

Van Jefferson isn’t far behind Woods from a production standpoint. He’s caught 24 passes for 392 yards and three touchdowns. His production has already exceeded what he did as a rookie last season. According to safety Jordan Fullerthe big leap is due to all the hard work he has put in since being with the team. Fuller told Stu Jackson of therams.com that Jefferson would run full speed routes everyday after practice with wide receivers coach Eric Yarber

The results are showing up on the field and in his playing time. Nothing is a bigger testament to his ability than being named a starter ahead of a veteran player like DeSean Jackson.

Backups

Behind the starters are a few guys that have potential, but next to no experience. There are two rookies, Ben Skowronek and Jacob Harris. They were both drafted this year, Skowronek in the seventh round and Harris in the fourth. Harris is listed as a tight end, but Sean McVay has said that he is a receiver. Harris was the training camp darling this summer. He showed off his athleticism by making several acrobatic catches including several touchdowns. In the preseason, he led the team in receiving against the Chargers, but only made one more catch in the subsequent two games. Harris is the best athlete of the backups and he is also huge for a receiver, but it is concerning that McVay hasn’t targeted him on offense at all. 

Skowronek has hardly seen the field in the regular season. He played a handful of snaps in garbage time of the Texans beat down. He was able to take advantage though. He caught three passes for 30 yards. McVay was pleased with the effort saying, “He really knows all the spots. He’s done an excellent job on special teams. He makes a couple of big catches for us. You can see the game’s not too big for him.”

As noted previously, the Rams also elevated J.J. Koski to the active roster. He also led the team in receiving in the preseason. He had a good night against the Raiders. He caught eight passes for 61 yards, including a nice 19 yard pick up. 

Koski first joined the team in 2020 as an undrafted free agent. McVay was complimentary of him, saying. “He’s somebody that you feel comfortable with so to be able to go two-deep in your 11 personnel grouping is something we feel good about.”

Moving Forward

Despite the losses, the Rams shouldn’t be terribly worried at this point. Receiver isn’t an immediate need for them. A punt returner is and we will see how Koski works out. In many position groups, the Rams have been walking a tightrope. The wide receiver group was not one of those groups with Jackson on the team. They are now walking that tightrope. Like many of the other positions, they will have to rely on their young developing talent to rise to the occasion. It has worked out well so far. 

If one of the starters goes down with an injury, the tightrope act becomes a very different show. Maybe more like those guys that zip around in those rotating circles on motorcycles. The scariest version of that is if Kupp gets injured. He has only played all 16 games once in his career. Maybe Snead should be on the phone with Beckham’s agent right now. 

Los Angeles Rams Wide Receiver Cooper Kupp During Practice. Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis | Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles Rams Wide Receiver Cooper Kupp During Practice. Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis | Los Angeles Rams

Ryan Anderson

Author Ryan Anderson

More posts by Ryan Anderson

Join The Discussion!