Soon, we will find out whether or not the sum of the St. Louis Rams' offseason moves will pay off. Training camp starts in about three weeks, the regular season is not far behind that. New general manager Les Snead was certainly a busy guy in the offseason, wheeling and dealing and adding players to bolster a shaky roster. Owner Stan Kroenke made a big move to hire Jeff Fisher, a head coach that ought to help turn things around for the team.
Matt Williamson of ESPN and Scouts, Inc. certainly liked what the Rams did this offseason. He gave the team an "A" grade for their moves. Let's take a look at what Williamson had to say.
The improvement for the Rams this season is on the defense.
This is a much different team from when Jeff Fisher accepted the job as head coach ... and I love what the Rams have done.
St. Louis' defense is going to be much improved. The outside linebackers are still a weakness, but I like the safeties who are in place and the Rams are incredibly improved at the cornerback position. Finnegan was excellent in 2011, and he brings the attitude Fisher desires to his new team. He also should take rookie Jenkins under his wing, which could result in one of the best cornerback pairings in the NFL before long. Johnson was also a steal at No. 65 to improve St. Louis' secondary. The Rams are going to have one of the best groups of defensive ends in the NFL, and the addition of Hayes shouldn't be overlooked as an exceptional third end behind Chris Long and Robert Quinn. He is a better player against the run than Long or Quinn. With the purging of veteran defensive tackles and the additions of Langford, pesky Laws and rookie Brockers, the Rams' defensive line is young and should be superb in the very near future.
William Hayes really could boost the Rams' fortunes against the run. Brockers and Kendall Langford have received plenty of attention on that front, but Hayes will be an important piece on the outside, especially with the outside linebacker situation still looking iffy.
On the offensive line, St. Louis will have to live with its young tackles (Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold) for now, but the Rams should be much improved on the interior -- and the tackles certainly could rebound. Although I like rookie Pead to back up Steven Jackson and immediately complement his running style, the passing game here still gives me pause. Sam Bradford can be great, but he needs to regain some confidence and stay healthy. Plus, who is going to emerge from this huge pile of young Rams pass-catchers? Rookies Quick and Givens are quality additions, but this unit needed a stud veteran instead of more unknown youngsters.
This is a make or break year for Bradford, and his sophomore season was rough enough to give many experts who thought highly of his skills prior to 2011 some serious reservations. I get it. It's hard not to wonder, especially when you see the young quarterback looking tentative in the pocket and anticipating a blitz that isn't coming. Fans may loath the idea of more dink and dunk passing, but the three-step drop will be essential to building Bradford back up to the level he is capable of playing at in the pros.
Williamson gives them an "A" so what would you give them?