When the St. Louis Rams announced their final roster last year the decision to include just 4 wide receivers raised some eyebrows. And, if you recall, they started the season with just three receivers dressed for the opener.
It is too soon to tell how many receivers the Rams will keep on the roster when final cuts are made early next month. Right now, conventional wisdom says that Spagnuolo and his offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will keep 5 or 6 receivers. That make sense for a couple reasons.
First, the Rams have a more well-rounded offense this season. Much of that has to do with Sam Bradford, and even A.J. Feeley to a lesser extent. With those two, it seems like they have QBs intimately familiar with their version of the West Coast offense; Feeley because he has the experience with it and Bradford because that the only pro system he knows.
Enter the shotgun. The Rams were terrible in the shotgun last year, but they still used it on 38 percent of their passing plays. The Eagles, Shurmur's previous stop, used it more than 48 percent of the time, third most of any team in the league last season. We have looked at the Rams' likelihood of using the shotgun with Bradford at the helm, and there is no reason to doubt that they won't use it more this season than last. Bradford is capable of making the quick, accurate throws essential to that approach, more so than the Bulger and Boller last season.
Another way of saying this is that they don't have to be as run-heavy as they were last year.
The question I'm getting at here is whether or not the Rams will start the season with more than 4 receivers on the roster. It's hard to tell right now, but given the changes to the offense it stands to reason that they will.
Another factor at play in the decision are the receivers themselves. Despite concerns about inexperience, the Rams have a more talented group this year than last. Leading the pack are Laurent Robinson and Donnie Avery. Making a strong case are Danny Amendola (who also should make it as a returner) and Keenan Burton. Brandon McRae and Jordan Kent have also shown up to play in camp this year. Mardy Gilyard looks like a rookie, but is showing the potential that made him a steal in the fourth round. A guy who hasn't been making a strong argument is Brandon Gibson, missing the scrimmage with an injury, and could be outside looking in when the final cuts come.
There's also the matter of injury history among this group, and I would think that fact alone would make the coaching staff reconsider before leaving just 4 receivers on the roster.
As for predicting which receivers make the final cut, it's pretty tough to say beyond the first four (Robinson, Avery, Amendola and Burton). Plenty of practice and playing time remains for the team and the puzzle should sort itself out between now and Sep. 12.