Time has passed since the NFC West championship game, where the Rams lost 16-6 to the Seahawks. This game was disappointing on many levels, but the biggest disappointment had to be the lack of offense that the Rams had. Sam Bradford passed for 155 yards, but the two leading receivers for the Rams this game had 39 yards each, the two players were Steven Jackson and Daniel Fells.
That game was the best example of how bad the Rams need pass catchers. However the Rams have quietly built a core group of players that should help them going forward. How different would the Rams have been if Clayton and Avery would have played the whole season? We won't know the answer to that question, but Billy D did a good job bringing these players in. After the jump the players who most likely will be back next season will be evaluated by yours truly.
Wide Receivers: This group looked like it would be promising before Preseason, Laurent Robinson, Mardy Gilyard, Brandon Gibson, and an improved Donnie Avery and Danny Amendola. Things changed quickly for the Rams Donnie Avery got injured during preseason, and Mardy Gilyard couldn't practice with the team until he graduated.
Then the Rams got Mark Clayton who most figured wouldn't be a good pickup (me included), and then Brandon Gibson got a nagging injury that bothered him throughout preseason. The Rams decided to take a chance on local hero Danario Alexander.
Now after the first couple weeks the Rams started to find theirself on offense, but just when they got into a groove Mark Clayton went out with a season ending injury. Shortly after this the Rams had to unleash their secret weapon DX. However without Avery and Clayton the WR corp went back to mediocrity, and now we are here in the off season wondering the Rams next move.
Donnie Avery Age 26 (season 3) Stats from 2009: Rec 47, yards 589, longest reception 50, rec TD 5, catches 20 yards or more 10.
This was supposed to be Avery's season to shine. Avery was becoming a better all-around player. There was talk about him going to the slot, but after gaining 10-15 pounds of muscle it seemed like this would be his breakout season. However the injured knee derailed all thoughts of a breakout season.
Going forward Avery is the biggest wildcard. Will Avery ever be more than just a deep threat? Or will he be the all around player the Rams thought he had the potential to be. Key thing for Avery is that the Rams need him to be healthy.
Mark Clayton Age 28 (season 6) Rec 23, yards 306, longest reception 39, rec TD 2, catches 20 yards or more 5.
Mark Clayton was a big surprise for the Rams. I'm sure that the Rams was surprised that Clayton became an instant impact player. Clayton and Bradford had immense chemistry from the first game till his season ending injury. He was on his way to having a career year and maybe 1000 yards. However once again another Rams WR goes down with a knee injury.
No one knows if Clayton will wear blue and gold next season, but it would be good for the Rams if they did. He is a great character guy on and off the field, and he wants to be back with the Rams. If the Rams bring Clayton back I would be surprised if it is more than a 3 year contract, because that was a real bad injury. With Clayton they would hopefully have a play making vet who can run crisp routes and get behind the defense, something that the Rams needed late this season.
Danny Amendola Age 25 (season 2) Rec 85, yards 689, longest reception 36, rec TD 3, catches 20 yards or more 2.
Amendola looked like just a normal practice squad player, but he started turning heads at OTAs so he stuck around. He made a great jump in production and all-around play. He could be called a poor man's Wes Welker, but if you ask me I call him White Chocolate. Amendola was used in many ways this season, but his best spot was slot WR.
Amendola is also facing a contract situation, but there is no way that the Rams let him walk. If Amendola get's help from the outside WR's I would be surprise if he doesn't become a 1,000 yard receiver. I would be surprised if he still is a KR or PR next season.
Brandon Gibson Age 23 (season 2) Rec 53, yards 620, longest reception 41, rec TD 2, catches 20 yards or more 7.
Tevin's favorite Ram. Gibson didn't have a great statistical year by any means, but he made big strides during the season. Especially considering the fact that Gibson was benched the first two games of the regular season, because he didn't play special teams good enough. More than likely he would have been the Rams leading receiver.
The biggest reason why I am so high on Gibson is because after every game he improved. After a few mistakes earlier in the season, Gibson started fighting for yards, finding the first down, and making the tough catches. Of course he could play better, but it was his 1st full season as a starter, and he still put up good numbers. I can honestly see Gibson as a good number 2, and he could be a surprise player in Mcdaniels new system ala Brandon Lloyd
Mardy Gilyard Age 24 (rookie) Rec 6, yards 63, longest reception 21, rec TD 0, catches 20 yards or more 1.
Gilyard was a huge disappointment this season. When he was drafted the Rams thought they were getting a dynamic playmaker. It didn't work out that way. Gilyard didn't get to practice with the Rams until he graduated, and then after a few games he was put on the bench.
Gilyard wasn't ready for the NFL last season, was it because he couldn't handle the playbook or was it because he didn't make a transition to the pros as fast as expected?We don't know, but with Mcdaniels coming to the Rams this should help Gilyard transition to the pros faster, and he should play a bigger role next season. However if he doesn't show improvement he could be out the door, but I expect him to at least get this year to prove himself.
Danario Alexander Age 22 (rookie) Rec 20, yards 306, longest reception 46, rec TD 1, catches 20 yards or more 6.
DX, the Rams were lucky to pick him up in free agency. It took Alexander some time to catch up to speed with the offensive playbook. This season seemed more like a tease for watching Alexander. It makes sense for the Rams not to let the cat out of the bag with him, but he seems like he can be more than just a deep threat to me. I can understand the Rams not pushing him hard because of his injuries, and the Rams have higher expectations for him in the near future.
If there was a Ram who could surprise everyone and have a surprise season it would be Alexander. He has everything you would want in a true number one receiver, speed, playmaking abilities, and height. If Alexander can stay healthy for most of the season, I would expect him to be a "DX" (I couldn't resist) factor in games.
With these potentially good players the Rams really don't need a lot to get over the hump on offense. The biggest factor for this group and the biggest reason why the Rams should get another wide receiver is because of the injury bug the Rams usually get at WR. The Rams aren't that far away from having a good offense, and if they keep the same corp of guys I would still be surprised if our team doesn't take a step upwards on offense. Expect a few more articles on WR.