Every roster in the NFL has good, bad, and mediocre position groups including the Los Angeles Rams. This will be a report card for each of the Rams position groups on offense and defense. Each position group will be deemed “good,” “bad,” or “meh” based on the makeup of that group. “Good” means that the team is set up for success and nearly impervious to failure. “Bad” means that fans and coaches should brace themselves for a rough time. “meh” means that there is clear room for improvement and a realistic chance for problems during the season but it is not guaranteed. Without further adieu, here are the good, the bad, and the meh for Rams position groups this season.
Rams Position Groups: The Good, The Bad, And The Meh
Wide Receiver: Good
The receivers are the biggest strength of the team and arguably the deepest group in the NFL. With Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, and now Nsimba Webster turning heads, there is almost no chance for a bad receiving season with these players.
The biggest question with this group is Kupp’s health. While all signs point to him playing in Week 1, it remains to be seen if he has mentally recovered from the injury. Put simply, the question of whether he fully trusts his leg in a game situation remains until proven otherwise. Even if Kupp were to be taken out of the lineup for some reason, the receiving group would still be stronger than the vast majority of the league.
Offensive Line: Meh
It will be a slightly different look for the Rams’ offensive line this season as newbie starters Brian Allen and Joseph Noteboom have replaced John Sullivan and Rodger Saffold. The biggest worry for the Rams is that Allen and Noteboom’s inexperience could create problems for the Rams this season.
The next biggest reason for concern is that left tackle Andrew Whitworth will be 38 by the end of the season. As with anyone that age in the NFL, questions of durability are a constant presence. If the Rams are unlucky, they could get an injured left tackle and two disappointing replacements. Meaning, the Rams could have significant downgrades at three of the five offensive line positions this season. However, by the same token, the Rams could be just fine if the cards fall into place the right way.
Tight End: Meh
Tyler Higbee, a fourth-round pick in 2016, and Gerald Everett, a second-round pick in 2017, have been middling in their time on the team. While many think the boat has sailed on Tyler Higbee, Everett still has a (last?) chance to prove himself useful in his third season before the Rams will start to look elsewhere. With the possibility of Everett’s ascendence still in play, Los Angeles still has a decent chance at a decent position group. However, if Everett were to stumble, the Rams will likely have to go back to the drawing board after the season.
Running Back: Good
Assuming that Todd Gurley is fully healthy with Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown behind him, the Rams have a very solid group going into 2019. In fact, if Henderson were to live up to expectations, the Rams would be in the conversation for having the best running back group in the league.
Losing Lamarcus Joyner in the offseason hurt this group but the Rams were able to land on their feet after picking up Eric Weddle and rookie Taylor Rapp out of the University of Washington. Also, with John Johnson rounding into solid form, the Rams now have three solid options with only two starting safety positions. Needless to say, if one of the starting safeties got hurt, the Rams likely wouldn’t suffer too much.
On paper, the Rams should have a solid cornerback room with Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters leading as two number-one cornerbacks. However, with Talib being 33 and Peters struggling in his limited time as the main guy for Talib last season, the ceiling for these two is not as advertised.
Additionally, Talib has already shown decline due to injury as evidenced by the eight games he missed last season. If Talib were to get injured again and have to miss games, this group could experience the same struggles it did last season when it finished as the 19th-best defense in the league.
That being said, the Rams have taken steps to avoid the same issues repeating themselves with the drafting of third-round pick David Long. If Long were to show that he can play at Nickell Robey-Coleman’s level, then that could open the door for Peters and Robey-Coleman to double-team an opposing number-one receiver on some plays while Long contains the worst of the number-two receiver until Robey-Coleman can come back to help him. There is also Troy Hill who could be put to use. Put simply, there is some juggling that can be done to minimize the damage of Talib’s absence if it were to occur again.
Inside Linebackers: Bad
Cory Littleton has shown that he can play at a competent level in the NFL on most downs. However, his starting partner will be a wild card whether it is Bryce Hager or Micah Kiser. The inside linebackers could be seen as the Achilles heel of the team and since Littleton can’t be in the game for every single down as he will likely need a break every now and then, that means that Hager and Kiser will be the only inside linebackers on the field which could lead to regular breakdowns in the middle of the field. If Littleton were to miss time or fail to repeat his decent 2018 campaign, the middle linebackers could be an eyesore this season.
Outside Linebackers: Good
With Clay Matthews, Dante Fowler, and Samson Ebukam working as the leading names for this squad, there is a good chance that there will be decent production from this unit this year. If each player were to repeat their 2018 season, the position would get a solid total of 10.5 sacks. Also, if one of these players were to get hurt (33-year-old Clay Matthews draws the most concern), the production likely wouldn’t dip too much.
Defensive Linemen: Meh
Any defensive line with Aaron Donald couldn’t be bad. That being said, if Donald were to be taken out of the equation due to injury or otherwise, the sack totals for this group would fall off a cliff. Even with Donald soaking up double teams last season, Michael Brockers, John Franklin-Meyers, and Ndamukong Suh combined for 7.5 sacks, with Suh earning 4.5 and he is no longer on the team. While Donald is a world-class player, his absence would decimate the defensive line into almost a non-factor.
First, there is Jared Goff, the franchise quarterback. Put simply, the Rams won’t be looking for his replacement any time soon. Behind Goff is Blake Bortles, a new acquisition who last played in Jacksonville. Many people laugh at Bortles as a starting quarterback but as a backup, Bortles is in a class of his own, especially considering the fact that he almost played in a Super Bowl just one calendar year ago using a similar scheme to what Head Coach Sean McVay is using now. If Goff were to go down with an injury, Bortles could possibly pull a “Nick Foles” and push this team to a Super Bowl win this year.