This post is going to be relatively long, so I will not waste too much time and get to it! In this post I will list every position, but not every player. The players I do list I either expect significant playing time from, or a player who should intrigue a lot, albeit from depth they may bring, high expectations, or the potential to deliver splash plays even in spot duty.
This is a key for roles I am predicting for each player:
- GS=Guaranteed Stud (pro bowl caliber)
- PS=Possible Stud (close to pro bowl caliber)
- GP=Good Player (strong impact role)
- SP=Splash Player (player adept at creating splash plays)
- RP=Role Player (depth and special team or capable of spot duty/500 snaps)
Sam Bradford PS- There is only one player that needs to be mentioned for this position. I don't know if I agree with the idea of it being a make or break season for him. I think that depends on if he absolutely bombs. If he comes out and plays a full 16 games and his number are something like; 3400 yds, 17 tds, 14 int, 57% comp...then its time to write Sammy boy off. It would be absolutely inexcusable. But I honestly don't think that a line like that is even remotely possible. But lets say he performs pretty average; 3800 yds, 21 tds, 12 int, 62% comp....then I don't think he is going anywhere for quite some time. But the stat line I see being most likely for Sam is something along the lines of, 4200 yds, 27 tds, 10 int, 63% comp. Still not elite numbers but top ten QB worthy.
Daryl Richardson GP- Richardson is the real conundrum of the bunch. I just can't call it with him. As I watched him play last year he looked about as perfect of a number two back as there is. He looked like a guy that could be around for 8-10 years. But as a back-up! Now he was a rookie coming from DII to the pro game so that is high raise. But I never really saw anything special that made me say when he develops he could be the lead back. It looked as if he had already reached his ceiling. If he can enhance any part of his game even the slightest amount, Richardson may end up being a sleeper (AGAIN) to approach 170 carries. Going off of his 4.8 ypc last season thats 830 yds.
Isaiah Pead PS- Pead has an amazing skill set. I said in my last post that he reminds me of LeSean McCoy. That has not changed one bit. Pead's biggest obstacle is mental toughness both on and off the field. Reading about how miserable he was bothered me. Are you really that weak that a little change of scenery for your dream job is going to cause you to blow that amazing opportunity? Also on the field, he ran very timid. He ran as if he was afraid to hit the hole with authority, constantly looking to take power runs to the outside rather than punch it up in there. On the bright side Pead flashed some impressive talent that looks like the talent of a guy that can take over a game. Watch the video below.
Pead 28 yard run (via RamsONDEMAND)
Zac Stacy PS- I'm pretty pumped about Stacy. He is going to wear the hell out of defenses. Simply because it takes so much extra effort to get him on the ground. He runs a lot like two other backs that are similar to his size, Maurice Jones-Drew and Doug Martin. Actually their entire game as a whole resemble each other. Stacy could be hard to retain in the future when his rookie deal is up, and that's never a bad thing.
Lance Kendricks GP- I might be the only person alive more interested in seeing Kendricks, than Jared Cook. Honestly Kendricks had a hell of a season, and when I went back and watch his season when reviewing the team, I noticed for the first time just how much he stayed in to block. First off his blocking was damn near flawless both pass and run, which is impressive in itself considering he doesn't have the build of a blocking TE (6'3" 244). But I think he blocked like a top 5 blocking TE. But his receiving skills were pretty amazing. He ran razor sharp routes, and caught the ball extremely well. He also displayed some nice after catch ability, getting north and south in a hurry, on a very consistent basis. I can't help but wonder what his numbers would have looked like if he had not been blocking so often (63 rec, 800 yds, 6 tds maybe???). I hope with an improved line Schotty can figure out a way to get him and Cook on the field at the same time more often than not, mismatches all day (Kendricks, Cook, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens ????).
Jared Cook PS- I don't believe Bradford has the most pressure him, I think that belongs to Cook. Cook has not come anywhere close to playing up to his freakish potential in his four year career. Honestly his combine numbers and measurements strongly resemble that of Jimmy Graham. Graham 6'6" 260, 10" hands, 35" arms, 4.53 40. Cook 6'5" 250, 10" hands, 35" arms, 4.49 40. And Graham didn't even play for real in college (one season 17 rec). Cook on the other hand 4 years of PT starting 15 games. Cook has been an utter disappointment. But a lot of that his been blamed on QB play. Sam is the best QB he has EVER played with. Should be a quality season, if not BUST. This truly is a make or break season in my eyes.
Chris Givens GP- Let's just get this out of the way now. Chris givens enters this season as the most likely Rams WR to reach 1,000 yds since Tory Holt. Does this mean that anything less is a dissapointment? No! But I would say anything less than 800 is. I am expecting something like 900 yds, 6 tds from Givens. He is the most experienced WR we have and he has already built a good rapport with Sam.
Tavon Austin PS- Do I really need to go into detail on this one? Tavon Austin enters the league, and as a rookie is, already being pegged as one of the most electric players in the NFL. And there is nothing wrong with that considering that it's true. The guy is electric. But I don't know if I am expecting the same as most out of the rookie. I think he will have a good season, but I don't believe he will win the rookie of the year, like he is being projected to. I think his stat line will look something like this, 45 rec, 585 yds, 5 td, 35 rush, 200 yds, td, possible ret td. I think his second year is when the number eight overall pick, is going to start to look like the number eight overall pick. We definitely need to tone down our expectations for his rookie season. He plays a different kind of game than A.J. Green or somebody. Best case scenario would be similar to Percy Harvin rookie season. True Harvin won rookie of the year, but he didn't receive much competition that year.
Stedman Bailey PS- I personally feel like Bailey is a stud. I believe three years from now, he could be our best WR. It's non-stop, every time I watch him, I see Steve Smith. 5'10" super duper tough, catches everything, amazing focus on contested catches, stronger than he may look, quick, elusive, very sharp route runner, wins jump balls, I really like Bailey. Quick may want to watch his back, because Bailey has the skills to play out wide. Bailey could very well come in and get 50 rec, 750 yds,7 tds, as a rookie. He is different from Tavon, not because of explosiveness or talent, but because he is more of traditional WR.
Brian Quick PS- Quick makes my head hurt. I honestly don't know what to expect from him. All I know is I get a headache every time I try to figure it out. Quick could either be the best and most targeted WR on our team, or a slight bump in production over last season remaining 6th on the depth chart. If he puts it into over drive this off-season and have the work ethic of a Michael Jordan or something like that (not likely), he could easily be a 1,100 yds, 10 td WR. The talent and size is all there, but something is missing. He just doesn't have the IT factor. At least not yet. I'm labeling his analysis as inconclusive....
Austin Pettis GP- Pettis has a lot in common with Kendricks! He Really improved a lot from year one to year two. He made a lot of big catches for us all year long, and word on the street is he made those crazy catches in practice all season long. My guess would be that is the reason he begin to earn more playing time the second half of the season. Pettis displayed a knack for getting open as well. Also I noticed that Sam started to look his way in certain situations, namely third down and in the red zone, and he rarely disappointed. Pettis is entering his third year. This year is golden, because its the year that WRs are known to come into their own. Pettis looks like a legit number 3 with the potential to occasionally step in as a two (a more consistent Brandon Gibson).
Jake Long GS- I wish everyone would stop putting Jake Long in the injury issue category. Its no way he deserves to be on a list with Roger Saffold and Scott Wells. The man has only missed six games in a five year career. That's pretty F*C*I*G IMPRESSIVE!!!! Prior to the last two seasons when he got hurt, Long was being called hands down the best tackle in the game. So we technically got the biggest steal of the off-season, or did we all forget that franchise left tackles who are considered top five at their respected position usually make about $11-13million a yr, with about $22-26 million guaranteed. I'm expecting domination from him, followed by a hold out lol
Roger Saffold PS- I get the feeling Saffold is about to be a man on a mission this season. And I think it will come easy for him. No denying Saffold is a good LT. But his natural position is the position he was originally drafted to play RT. So since he is best suited as a RT and will be playing to get paid like a LT, or leave and become someone else LT, I am expecting Saffold to look like the best RT in the NFL this year. As long as he stays healthy he should grade out as a top five RT next year.
Harvey Dahl GS- Harvey Dahl will be Harvey Dahl.
Scott Wells GP- This could very well be Wells last season. His knee issues have gotten so extreme that its becoming more and more less likely that he finishes his contract. If healthy Wells can still be a top 10 center, but there may not be a bigger if in football. His health needs to drastically improve between now and September to have any sort of meaningful impact.
Rokievious Watkins GP- I can't wait ti see how much weight Watkins has lost. I'm more eager to see his conditioning than I am his actually play. BUT, lets take a second to recall his situation last year. His only knock was conditioning. He received plenty of praise in practice and eventually the starting spot once he passed the conditioning test. And this off-season it has been said repeatedly that Watkins has basically lived at the facility. If this new found work ethic is true, than expect Watkins to possibly be the most improved player.
Barrett Jones GP- Jones' versatility is by far his greatest attribute. Throw in his smarts, amazing technique, and he is all but guaranteed to become a starter sooner than later. Jones has the potential to change the outlook of the entire line. His smarts could make him into the best center in the NFL, and if given the power he could make all the calls putting the line in consistent position to be ready to counter anything thrown at them. I like this kid, and he could give every lineman we have a run for their money as the best overall.
Chris Long GS- Is it just me, or has Chris Long completely taken over the premier left end position in the NFL, but has yet to receive any respect for doing so. Please, someone, anyone, name a player in the NFL that has been more dominant the last 2 1/2 years from the left end spot?????? It's ok I'll wait..............................................................
Robert Quinn GS- Quinn made massive strides last year. His rookie season he did what rookies do and played strictly off of skill, but last year his technique improved immensely. It looked like he had been working his butt off all of last off-season. If that was the case and he does that again this year, I expect even better pass rush ability, and more importantly a better run defense. One thing I LOVE about Quinn is his motor, and unappreciated speed. The video I'm about to show you will bring back bad memories but when it happened I think I am the only one that saw something positive from a Rams point of view. Robert Quinn was determined to chase down Adrian Peterson, a guy who ran a 4.38, look who stays within 5 yards the entire time of a long run. That type of speed off of the edge mixed with increasingly better technique and fundamentals, is a recipe for success.
ADRIAN PETERSON 82 YARD TOUCHDOWN AKA ALL DAY (via mooose09)
Michael Brockers GS- Michael Brockers is another example of draft pundits not having a clue what they're talking about. The only ones who know for sure what they are thinking about a player are the scouts themselves. Everything else is just speculation. Over and over again last year Brockers was labeled as a project who can't rush the passer. He was viewed by most as the best run stuffer in the draft, but run stuffers "should not" go as high as he did. Last summer I even got into a long back forth debate with Walter Cherepinsky (Walter Football) about how wrong he was for speaking so poorly of the selection. Well, guess I was right. Brockers was a consistent problem for QBs last season. And he was as good as advertised against the run. Brockers could be a sneaky pro bowl selection sometime in the next year or two.
Kendall Langford GP- I chalked Langford's disappointing season up to his first time ever in a 4-3. He was pretty darn good before in Miami in the 3-4. The hope is that he is not a player who can only perform well in one scheme. But he really struggled last season. He was horrible against the run, was abysmal with rushing the pass. Langford needs to really get it to click this season, or he may be out of a job next season.
William Hayes PS- Can someone please tell me where the hell Hayes came from???? I know Tennessee and his college background and all that stuff, but he was a different player last year. He was lights out vs the run. And his pass rush was phenomenal. I can't even imagine what his production would have looked like as a full time starter. Just more proof that Jeff Fisher is a hell of a coach that his players LOVE to play for, because any other coach would have lost Hayes to free agency/more money this year.
Jermel Cudjo RP- Cudjo managed to prove enough to the coaching staff that more depth at the DT position was not needed. Everyone, including myself was so sure the position would be addressed by now. Instead Cudjo was resigned, and we signed what looks to be a camp body UDFA. Cudjo did do a decent job rushing the passer in spot duty. I am interested in seeing if his improvement has gotten him to the point to have a bigger role in the rotation.
Matt Conrath RP- This dude got a lot of love last year from the coaching staff from a rumored great performance early in camp last year. But he got injured about the 3rd week of camp, and never really healed up until about week 15, at which point he was buried on the depth chart and rotation. But whatever he did early in camp was good enough to warrant a roster spot for the rest of the season. He was a UDFA from Virginia, and stands at 6'7" 290. So his size is impressive, but it means nothing to me. I want to know CAN HE PLAY??
Still waiting on your answer for Long...................................................................................................................
James Laurinaitis GS- Laurinaitis has been a model of consistency. You couldn't ask for a better a MLB. With Steven Jackson now gone, I would say it is a toss up for best player on the team between Chris Long and Laurinaitis. He may not be the most physically gifted, but the guy is smart, tough, durable, and reliable. Got to love everything he brings to the table as arguably the most complete player on the team regardless of position.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar GP- When I see Dunbar, I see a pure effort player. Effort can help a player look better than they really are. Effort=hustle, and because he hustles so much he is everywhere resulting in his high tackle rate. And I love it. Every team needs a Jo-Lonn Dunbar on it. A player that is going to give you his all every single snap. BUT...Dunbar has glaring holes in his game. For one he can't read. He can react with the best of them, but reading is not his strong suit. That's why even though he hustles all the time, his reaction is so delayed post snap, and his coverage is something that suffers the most. Coverage takes more than athletic ability and reaction skills. You have to be able to read the offense and the players pre and post snap. Again, I love having Dunbar, but I am hoping to see a much improved ability to read before reacting by being coached by what I believe is arguably the best defensive staff in the NFL, resulting in even better production. Remind you he finished with 115 tck, 4.5 sck, 2 int.
Alec Ogletree SP- To me Ogletree is a much more athletic and bigger version of Dunbar. A guy that hustles non-stop but has trouble with reading. Ogletree plays really fast and physical. Don't belive me just look up his chase down tackle of the Ole Miss WR, or doubt he is physical look what he did to Eddie Lacy (the supposedly best power back in the draft) on the goal line in the hole one on one. Ogletree just needs to read plays, get off blocks, and stay out of trouble, and we might be talking about a possible future All-Pro selection.
Sammy Brown RP- Brown reminds me of a poor man's version of Von Miller. When we originally signed him last year as an UDFA I did extensive research on him. He was pretty good in college at Houston, and was a sack master. He also was pretty good at getting tackles for loss. He could be good depth as a rush LB in special packages, similar to the ones that Von Miller plays in.
Phillip Steward SP- Steward played with Brown and he was Brown's twin, only BETTER!!! Both of these guys can get after the QB, but Steward is better with his hands to get off of blocks and also better in coverage. Steward does an excellent job with pre-snap recognition. It's clear he is a film junkie, because the guy reads plays well. Even though he is better than Brown in coverage, he is only slightly above average in that department, which doesn't help Brown's case, but there's no reason to believe that they both can't be coached up. We could have two steals as legit depth, but we will have to see how they perform in August. I for one am hoping they take care of business.
Ray Ray Armstrong GP- I am not a fan of the position switch here. I think it is a disservice to what he does best. And it will kill his chances of making the team, unless they plan on using him as a sort of hybrid LB/DB. They guy has a lot of potential and skill, but hasn't played in over a year now, so he will be pretty rusty. Rusty plus a position switch=CUT by the end of camp, unless he is a Fisher and staff favorite, which is possible.
Jonathon Stewart RP- Stewart is a big talented MLB, who plays the run well, but lacks the physicality that his size would indicate he has. He is talented, but you can't play LB for Fisher if you won't be physical. If he can change that about his game, he could be a lock to make the team. Because no one is going to question his skill set that goes well with his impressive measurements.
Cortland Finnegan GP- Finnegan is that wily veteran that every team needs. He is not a splash play machine, he is not the most physically gifted player, not an imposing figure in the least way, but damn he is smart. He plays as good of a mental game as a player can play. He makes it so much more mental than the next guy. And his ability to read plays and play bigger than his size, makes him an instant code red to all offenses.
Janoris Jenkins PS- Jenkins is "Strip club ready" and pro bowl ready. Everyone screams about the interceptions, which is great, but I like his toughness. Jenkins stands at 5'10" 194lbs, but will stick his nose into any ball carriers business. He is a very good tackler. I watched him open field tackle two of the meanest, hardest, if not the absolute two meanest and hardest, guys to tackle in the NFL. He got both Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. How often do we see either of these guys go down from one guy, yet alone a 5'10" 194lb CB. Jenkins is so physical, and his strength gets over looked. He could very well be in play for a Pro Bowl ticket this season.
Trumaine Johnson GP- Tru was a good depth player for much of last year. I am expecting him to see more of the field this season though. Funny thing, at this very moment while writing it just hit me how much depth we have gotten. We have three good corners, three good backers,and five good d-linemen, that's 11 players right there. Haven't even gotten the safeties on the field yet. Also we have 5 WRs, 2 TEs, and 3 RBs, they can all start, and haven't even gotten 5 O-lineman and a Qb on the field yet. I'm getting pumped writing this. Anyhoo back to Tru, I like his run support a lot. He needs to get better at route recognition, but if the ball is catchable at all, chances are he is going to take it. He also has better hips than advertised, but just needs to play smarter, and stop relying on his talent so much.
Brandon McGee RP- I don't know why but I just keep getting this feeling that by this time next year McGee will be pushing Johnson for reps. Something about this kid is special. He will definitely be a role player this year as he develops but his natural skill set and amazing work ethic could push him into a position to contribute on more than just special teams, and a few defensive reps, sooner rather than later.
Darian Stewart GP- I don't believe Stewart is getting a fair shake right now. Two years ago when he was playing a lot and even starting games over Dahl at FS, he was playing well. Has anyone stopped and said " hey, why did Jeff Fisher single out Stewart, before releasing Mikell? Then released Mikell and felt no sense of urgency to sign a SS to compete with Stewart." Maybe because Stewart is not that bad of a SS. And he is prototype Fisher SS. You put this guy in the box and let him work. He happens to be adept at getting pressure on the QB when blitzing. He is below average when it comes to coverage but he is not terrible by any means. He could be better, but so could Mikell. Also Stewart is a pretty good tackler. And when he decides to HIT you, he really HITS you..check out the footage. Dahl predictably takes a horrible angle, leaving only Stewart to stop the RB from possibly breaking a long one since everyone was pretty well blocked.
Darian Stewart Knocks Out Ryan Williams (via RamsONDEMAND)
T.J. McDonald RP- Let me explain why I say TJM will be a RP rather than a GP. He is a very smart football player. He has had the privilege to have a father that played in the NFL and his father has been coaching him up since he was a little kid. So there is no question he knows football and has a good football IQ. BUT, his athletic ability, coverage, and angles, are all about to come into question, because he is being projected to play FS. If he was going to play SS and spend more time in the box I would say he will be a GP this year. But that is not the case. I believe he can improve, but it will take some time. It's his smarts that might save him.
Cody Davis RP- This kid is a technician. I watched a lot of film on this draft class, and I can honestly say he might be the best and most sure tackler of the entire class. The guys tackling technique is flawless. He is very physically gifted as well. Athletically he has every safety on the team beat, and his signing is going to put someone out of a job. He plays really smart, and has some damn good skills when it comes to taking angles. I like this kid a lot, and I would not be the least bit surprised if he got a lot more playing time than some are expecting. He could easily become a GP, just depends on if he touches the field enough, and he probably will.
Matt Daniels and Rodney McLeod both RP- I put these two together for a reason. Because I am about to say the same thing for both, and there is no point repeating myself. They are in the exact same predicament, one of them will not be on the team next season. But both showed some sort of value as a RP and they brought depth. Even though there is a glaring size difference between the two (Daniels 6'1" 214lbs McLeod 5'11" 183lbs) they have the exact same game. Neither guy is particularly fast, or athletically gifted. But both have good reputations for being absolutely amazing leaders and bringing the wood when they hit. They both got on the coaches good side last season, but they both are the less talented players at their position. Is there any chance both players stick and we carry five safeties and four corners, YES, we did it last year. But with the teams new found depth all over, their roster spot may be needed for someone else, albeit a LB, WR, RB, who knows. One thing is for sure, safety as a whole is going to be the best and most exciting position battle of camp.
Greg Zuerlein GS- Short, simple, and sweet, my homie GZ (Gee-Zee), will break the record for longest field goal this season. He can knock them in from 65 yards, and Fisher knows it, thus why he gave him ample opportunity. Expect more of that this year. He clearly got the rookie jitters at certain times last year, but just have a look at one of the kicks from the San Francisco game in STL, and tell me both can't make it through from another 10-12 yards.
(MIGHT WANT TO CHANGE THE QUALITY OF THE VIDEO)
STL Rams VS SF 49ers GZ Winning FG in OT: 12-2-12 (via Pooty Tang)
Johnny Hecker SP- Here is why Hecker is a SP....he booms some punts that seem unrealistic, then he throws for touchdowns and first downs occasionally. If that isn't the definition of a SP than I don't know what is. I expect Hecker to retire with at least four touchdown passes for his career, and he is a punter. I realize that he is an ex-QB but he's not too shabby with those few QB moments here and there (3for3, 42 yds, and a TD).
I am most looking forward to seeing these guys play this year:
- Sam Bradford
- Stedman Bailey
- Greg Zuerlein
Who are you most looking forward to seeing this season?????
As usual thank you for reading, and I am REALLY REALLY looking forward to seeing who others are looking forward to seeing play.
P.S. STILL WAITING ON AN ANSWER FOR MR. LONG............................................................