If Jared Goff is to continue to be the quarterback the Los Angeles Rams signed to a $134 million contract, not only does he have to be more consistent and turnover the ball less, but the team must find a way to get players around him that make this possible. Specifically, the need for a wide receiver that can become a deep threat on any given play ala Brandin Cooks or Willie “Flipper” Anderson.
Other needs include beefier offensive tackles, one to replace the inevitable departure of LT Andrew Whitworth either this year or after his contract expires. The team also should seriously look into its entire linebacker corps. They weren’t bad in 2020, but they were the weakest link of the No. 1 defense, which is saying something.
The first good sign I saw this week was the fact LB coach Joe Barry followed defensive coordinator Brandon Staley to the Chargers side of SoFi Stadium.
Entering the 2021 season, questions of depth at edge rusher, and in the defensive backfield will also come into play, especially after decisions are made on Darious Williams, Troy Hill and John Johnson III.
We here at Rams Talk will take a look at all these needs in the coming weeks. While there might be others as well, I encourage you to reach out to me on my Twitter handle, @AmoreSports, we can certainly attempt to look at needs that you, the fans, might see as well.
In this first article I will address the wide receiver need and look at where that player(s) may come from.
The Rams have some of the great playmakers in the game when Goff can get the ball to them with ample time, and on a dime. Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds and Van Jefferson all have proven to have great route running skills and YAC numbers, but what we haven’t seen is the player that has the burst of speed to make a defensive back stand still for a moment and then find himself in no-man’s land after being beat on a double move. Jefferson may be able to do that, but hasn’t been given the chance yet.
The Rams have to have a speed burner on the outside that defenses must respect as a deep threat on every single snap. They don’t have that, and it clearly takes away from what a pocket passer can do for the team.
There are no less than 15 wideouts up for free agency this offseason. Of course, as per usual, several could garner a franchise tag from their respective teams and would cost a pretty penny to the cap-stressed Rams. But for anyone who follows the Rams, they know general manager Les Snead is a master cap specialist and can work magic with the team’s numbers.
Receivers like Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson II and Kenny Golladay could all receive the franchise tag, somewhere near $18 million for 2021, and ultimately could reach agreement with their teams from anywhere between four or five years and $85-110 million contracts.
Of the three, Golladay impresses me the most. He finished second in the league this past season in total yards (628) on pass plays of 20 or more yards. He is the ultimate outside threat in the free agent market who possesses size and better than average speed on the outside and holds his own in contested catches. A free agent contract for Golladay would look to be anywhere near the $21 million per year range.
I have always been one to trust my eye when it comes to receivers who played in California, especially USC. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Nelson Agholor are also free agents this offseason. Both have proved they have speed, agility and great yards after catch skills and could fit well into a Rams cap space.
Smith-Schuster is a smart player that was put in the slot position much of the time in Pittsburgh, yet for those fans of the Trojans, they know he could be an outside long threat when given the chance to operate. Smith-Schuster will come in on the lower side of highest paid WR contract talks, somewhere near four years and $62-68M.
If the Rams are looking for a bargain, Agholor could be the pick up they would need the most. He could be had on a two-year contract for $15 million. After playing the slot for Philadelphia early in his off-and-on career, the Las Vegas Raiders tapped into the outside potential he has. The Raiders managed to get 17.9 yards per catch from Agholor, this alone should perk up the Rams interest.
Besides the mentioned receivers, several others (mostly slot players) could be added to the mix, but as I said before, the Rams already have a nice set of slot receivers and possession receivers. Others in the mix could be:
Will Fuller V
The NFL Draft can also produce wide receivers for the team. Snead and head coach Sean McVay have shown they have an eye for talent in the college ranks as well. Jefferson was their latest fine grab. Now with a truncated college season behind them, the NFL Combine will be that much more important than in the past.
Without retreading the obvious no-first round pick again this season, we look forward to what the Rams can do in their projected draft position this off season:
- 2nd round, 57th overall.
- 3rd round, 88th overall.
- Third round comp (Fowler)
- Third round comp (Holmes)
- Fourth round comp (Littleton)
- 6th round, 183rd overall.
- 7th round, 215th overall.
Players like Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Jayen Waddle are sure to be gone in the top 20 picks. But at No. 57, where I believe the Rams should pick their speedster, the team desperately needs a player like Kadarius Toney. He is the prototypical player McVay could work with. Toney is a three-way threat who can play outside, slot and run the ball. He has a big build and plays strong. He caught 70 passes for the Florida Gators for nearly 15 yards per catch and scored 12 times in 2020.
No matter which way the team turns in 2021, a speedy, breakout wide out is by far the No. 1 need for Los Angeles. Next week I will take a look at offensive tackles and linebackers on the team’s list of needs.
SOURCE: PFF.Com, Walterfootball.com