The NFL lockout is ending soon, real soon. And that means teams can get back to the business of preparing for the 2011 NFL season. Just as important, we fans can get back to the business of preparing ourselves for the season. To get back up to speed, TST is kicking off our roster review, taking a look at where the St. Louis Rams stand before free agency and camps start. Recently we discussed the cornerbacks, the offensive line, and the QB situations.
Now, its time to look at the position that could make the Rams offense better than last year. It's been reported that the Rams will use the two-TE set next season. The Rams have a group of young players who if healthy, could jump start the offense. A number one receiver would be nice, but a TE is a young quarterback's best friend.
The Potential Starters
The Rams' surprise 2nd round pick, Lance Kendricks, is the key to the Rams new offensive plans. Kendricks is a versatile player who can line up in different places on the offense to create mismatches. He can be used as a vertical threat. He is a solid blocker and a great pass catcher.
It will be interesting to see how the shortened offseason will work against Kendricks. You have to assume that not being able to practice will hurt a rookie player going into the season. Don't be surprise to see him start as a backup and then work his way to starter at the end of the preseason. It's hard to tell if he will start if Fells comes back. He still will get a lot of playing time though.
Big Mike was a fan favorite here at TST last season, flashing playmaking ability throughout the season when he was healthy. In fact, that's the biggest knock on him -- he just wasn't durable last season. He isn't the fastest player, but he finds ways to get open. He is a different type of versatile player; with Mike, you can have him on the field as a FB or as a blocking TE on running plays, but he can still catch and get open. He won't tip the play off if he is in the game.
Fells isn't the best TE, but he was a good player for the Rams last year. He might not make plays, but he is a solid player that can start for a team. Fells might be an okay starter, but he could end up a good backup. Fells won't wow you with amazing plays, but he isn't a liability on the field.
The biggest thing is that he isn't signed for next season. The Rams could decide to let him walk, but if they don't he could be a solid player who can come in and start.
The Role Player
Bajema isn't a sexy player, and what I mean by that is that he won't have a lot of catches. However, Bajema does the dirty work for the Rams; he is a damn good blocker. I would say that he is an average catcher. Bajema probably won't get cut by the Rams, because he has a low contract for one more year. The Rams should keep him just in case Big Mike gets injured..
Onobun has a lot of potential, but hasn't had time to show what he can do yet. Fendi has all the physical tools you would want in a receiving TE. The thing to remember with Fendi is that he only had one year of college football, since he spent the other years playing basketball. Fendi will need to learn the routes and how to read defenses. I would be happy to see flashes in Fendi his second year, and see if he can put it all together for his third season. If Fendi can get used to the NFL level, maybe he can line up in a wide receiver position at times in the redzone and help the Rams get a mismatch.
The Camp Bodies
I doubt that either of these two players make the team next season. The only reason the Rams brought them in last year, was because the TEs on the Rams roster were injured.