It struck me as I was putting together the most disappointing Rams of the season that we hadn’t really taken stock of the 2016 Los Angeles Rams’ needs yet, a state of the roster so to speak.
So uh, let’s change that.
QB - TBD
The Rams are in a weird “wait and see” spot at QB. You’ve got a #1 overall pick that you traded away your 2017 NFL Draft first-round pick to select who has yet to take an NFL snap seven games into his rookie season. Clearly, we’re going to have to sit on Jared Goff for a while so this likely puts this at the back of the pack. Confusing things, though, is the status of Sean Mannion, a 2015 NFL Draft third-round pick.
Consider Washington’s 2012 offseason. They traded a boatload of picks to the Rams for the right to select Robert Griffin III at #2 overall before selecting Kirk Cousins in the fourth round as...insurance? Who knows. RGIII became an instant star taking Washington to the playoffs in Year 1 before fizzling out along with HC Mike Shanahan. Enter Cousins. Mr. You Like That took over starting duties in 2015 leading Washington to their second playoff berth in four years.
Could the Rams be headed somewhere similar with Goff disappointing in the 2016 preseason and perhaps stalled due to a skill issue? Could Mannion ever get meaningful time?
These are, though, questions to be left unanswered for some time. The Rams have bigger fish to fry.
RB - 2/10
The Rams overdrafted the running back position to a laughable degree in the first four years under Head Coach Jeff Fisher. Finally landing on 2015 NFL Draft #10 overall selection Just Todd Gurley, the Rams don’t need to spend here any time soon. Of course, the bigger issue is that the Rams spent a first-round pick on a running back whom they are clearly unable to support with a sufficient system and other personnel, but it’s too late to do much about that except work on the personnel. Putting any capital into other running backs isn’t going to do that.
WR - 8/10
The Rams have needed talent at wideout for years in the wake left by Brian Quick’s failure to develop as a second-round selection in that 2012 NFL Draft. That need is lessened just slightly by a huge comeback year for WR Kenny Britt and a youth injection of Pharoh Cooper, Mike Thomas and Nelson Spruce who could factor once Goff is handed the reins.
For the time being, this is somewhere near the top need.
TE - 4/10
Is there a position harder to understand in Fisherball than tight end? The Rams tried to force feed Jared Cook for years after bringing him in as a free agent in 2013. Having parted ways this offseason, the Rams have used sixth-year vet Lance Kendricks as a consistent passing threat.
Fourth-round rookie Tyler Higbee, not so much. Despite being hyped up through training camp and the preseason, Higbee has just two catches on seven targets despite getting in on 37% of the offensive snaps this year.
Rookie Temarrick Hemingway has been an occasional special teams add, but hasn’t gotten much of a look on offense.
On talent alone, I’d make this more of a need. But given that the Rams re-upped Kendricks last season through 2018 and just drafted two rookies, I don’t know if major change is warranted here.
OT - 9/10
The Greg Robinson Experiment is running out of time. The Rams still have him on his rookie deal through next year, but it would be very hard to justify turning toward the Jared Goff era in earnest in 2017 with GRob as the starting left tackle without any real option for change other than Andrew Donnal...
I gave this one point out of ten for wiggle room for GRob since he has nine games left. Should those go the way the previous seven have, this would be my top need for position and roster value at 10/10.
G - 5/10
Rodger Saffold is locked in on the big deal the Rams handed him in 2014 after his move to the Oakland Raiders fell through. Fisher continues to waffle between Jamon Brown and Cody Wichmann at RG. The Rams could well look to add talent here beyond the first or second round. I could see the Rams pushing this off to 2018 though.
C - 8/10
Tim Barnes doesn’t fit the need for a run-first center (though I’m not really sure the Rams are sincere in their desire to be a run-first, Gurleycentric offense).
The position value isn’t super high here, but the Rams sorely need an upgrade.
DT - 1/10
No personnel issues here. The Rams locked up Michael Brockers this offseason, and the depth is fine. The only outstanding item on the to-do list is re-upping Aaron Donald who heads into the last contracted season from his rookie deal in 2017.
DE - 4/10
Rams Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams lives on rotation to sustain his packages, but since taking Robert Quinn in 2011, the Rams have drafted just two defensive ends, both in the seventh round: Michael Sam in 2014 and Martin Ifedi in 2015.
William Hayes is 31. Eugene Sims is 30. Quinn, who has taken on some serious injury concerns in the last year-and-a-half, is 26. The Rams could afford to get younger here soon.
LB - 9/10
This one’s a bit hard to parse.
Talent-wise? This is a clear need. In terms of application? I’m not sure how the Rams would implement new linebacking talent with LB Alec Ogletree and S/LB/ATH Mark Barron pairing up at the second level with rookie LB Josh Forrest offering third-man support.
Would the Rams add a traditional MLB and push Ogletree back to OLB? What would that mean for Barron, the lone member of the Rams’ 2015 secondary who signed on a long-term deal this offseason? Would they instead look to add an OLB assuming Ogletree is a long-term solution at MLB and not a one-year fill-in for departed James Laurinaitis? If so, what’s needed more - the more athletic, rangier linebacker or a heavier run-focused OLB?
CB - 6/10 or 10/10
This comes down to Trumaine Johnson. Tru’s on a franchise tag for 2016 leaving his contract status beyond this season up in the air. E.J. Gaines has recovered from a wiped out 2015 to return to form this year; he’s under contract through next season. Lamarcus Joyner is on a similar contractual timepath. Depth is a clear issue here with Troy Hill and Dwayne Gratz the only options on the outside in support of an outage from Tru or Gaines (both of which have already happened).
This is in the mix if the Rams keep Tru and up there with left tackle if they’re unable to keep him around.
S - 5/10
This one isn’t as vital for position value with T.J. McDonald and Maurice Alexander manning the rafters. Much like linebacker, I wonder what the application wrinkle would be here since the Rams use their safety positions interchangeably.
The bigger issue here is depth. The Rams don’t have any at safety.
ST - 1/10
There are plenty of candidates for most disappointing Rams of 2016. The opposite, though, has just two candidates: WR Kenny Britt and K Greg Zuerlein.
Heading toward the 2016 offseason, many Rams fans were ready for a new name at kicker. All he’s done in 2016 is be perfect thus far.
Meanwhile, P Johnny Hekker remains Johnny Hekker.
We done here.
CB-6/10 or 10/10
So we’ve got a top tier of OT, LB a Tru-less CB, C and WR.
The mid group consists of tight end, guard, defensive end, safety and cornerback if Tru is retained.
Spots to sit on include QB, RB, DT and specials.