After seeing Ram Rod's top five keys to Rams success, it inspired me to list out the players who I think are most important to the Rams success. It will be a four part series with 5 players revealed at the time until I reach player #1. To make this list I ranked players 1-10 based how how important I think they will be next year. Then I put them in order and I broke the ties between the players who I ranked the same number. It's not a perfect system, but it a pretty good list I believe. One thing to keep in mind that even though this is the most important Rams, that doesn't necessarily mean the most talented Rams.
After the jump the finale to my list. #5-1
5. Rodger Saffold
This year the Saffold will be facing off against some of the best pass rushers in the league. James Harrison, Terrell Suggs, Demarcus Ware, Will Smith, Clay Matthews (sometimes, Clay is usually on the left), Trent Cole, all the Giant's good rushers, and Chris Clemons twice. He will really have to step his game up this year because protecting Bradford is his number one job. I think he will do a great job this year. He showed everyone last season that he will be the Rams LT for a long time.
4. Chris Long
As has been well documented on TST this year, Chris Long led the NFL in QB Pressures last season. With the improvements we have made along the defensive line, he should be able to turn more of those pressures into sacks. He had 8.5 sacks last year, and this year he should finally be able to get to double digit sacks. He will have to continue to reck havoc week in and week out for our defense. If he can again be a guy to command double teams, imagine what we could get out of the rest of the defensive linemen, especially Robert Quinn, when they are one on one most of the time. We could easily be a top five sack team this year, and if we are, a lot of the credit should go to Chris Long.
3. Steven Jackson
He is one of the only players in the league I give the title beast to, and he damn well deserves it. His combination of size and speed is quite terrifying. Some of the best years of his prime were wasted playing on some really bad teams. He's a warrior and he is one tough SOB as he always plays through pain. His play should be improved this year as Billy Devaney has really upgraded the offensive line with Harvey Dahl. He should also be less fatigued in game as the Rams have added Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood. I'm expecting a season close to what he had in 2009. The Ram's run game will have to be effective for the two TE play action pass happy offense to work and SJax will be the main guy in the running game this year. I see another huge year from Jackson this season.
2. James Laurinaitis
He is the Sam Bradford of the defense. He is the guy making all the audibles and adjustments for the defense. This role is become more and more important in the NFL today to the point that team's would rather have a guy who understands defensive adjustments over a more talented player. Good thing for the Rams is they have a guy has both great football IQ and skill. With the improvements on the defensive line, he should have a lot more room to make plays this year. He is a great tackler, he is good at getting off blocks and he can cover well. He should have been a pro-bowler last year, and this year he should only improve as he is gaining more experience in Spag's defense. Hopefully this pec injury won't be a thing that will hurt his performance this year.
1. Sam Bradford
Do I even need to explain why he's #1? He's the Franchise QB. He is the leader of the team. He is the guy who holds the Ram's fate in his hands, and there aren't many guys who I would choose to have that responsibility over him. I'm expecting a great improvement in his play this year as he is going to an offense that will use his skills as a passer to the greatest level. I really don't know what else to say that you all don't already know so I'll just awkwardly end it here.
Tanks for reading my series for the Top 20 Most Important Rams in 2011. Be sure to watch the Ram's preseason opener again the Colts tonight. GO RAMS!!