So how have the Rams changed since the end of last season?
Quarterback - Sam will have a second year in the system and an improved offensive line (see below). Given his work ethic, familiarity with the scheme, and better offensive line we should have improved QB play.
Running Back - Hard to argue this will be an improvement. However, it may not be much of a drop off if the young guys can develop and work well behind the new line. My biggest concern is blitz pickup. My suspicion is that Pead was not playing last year in part because he could not learn his blitz assignments.
Offensive line - The addition of Long, R. Watkins second year, a general improvement in health and scheme familiarity should equal a BIG jump in line quality. Considering all the injuries last year, the line was not terrible. But a healthy center, and more reps as a group should equal a big jump in quality. Don't underestimate the impact of Long. He NEVER needs help. This either frees the Tight ends to run patterns or allows the help to rotate to other parts of the line. He makes the whole line better.
Tight Ends - The addition of Jared Cook improves the Tight Ends. Enough to justify the salary? Time will tell. Nonetheless, they are better.
Wide Receivers - D. Amendola is a big loss. But Austin and Bailey look to contribute in a significant way. Will last years guys continue to improve? I still think this is an upgrade.
On Offense we have every reason to expect better O line, QB and TE. I think Receiver is likely better and Running Back is a question mark. Overall, offense should be much improved.
Defensive Line: A healthy, experienced Brockers with Long, Quinn, Langford and Hayes? Good lord, these guys are going to crush teams.
Linebackers: If Ogletree lives up to the hype, with JL and Dunbar, who I felt did alright last year, wow. Remember the linebackers coach got fired - and not because JL can't play all of the sudden. I expect a big step up.
DBs - Jenkins is only going to be better. I expect the same number of big plays, minus many of the negative plays. Should be a better group - which is saying something.
Safeties - well here you go. The biggest question mark of the season. If the Safeties can ball, then watch out. It will also be interesting to see if we play three line backers, three dbs, and one safety with the addition of Ogletree.
Defense, better at every position except, perhaps, safety.
Special teams - Greg the Leg should be fine and the punting should even out. Also, the overall increase in quality should put a few better players on the special teams. I think this is an improvement.
The big questions are Running Back and Safety. But a better line should help the Running backs and it will be interesting to see how often three dbs and one safety are used in coverage.
Finally, I think the team will also improve in penalties. The false starts should, for instance, be dramatically reduces. Improved QB play, new receivers, a better defense = playoffs.
You got to play the games, but I like the looks of things as we head into OTAS.