The NFL season is upon us and it’s that time of year when publications begin to fill the content void with things like positional group rankings by team. Now, it’s not that there is anything at all wrong with them -- they drive discussion and are often fun to debate over -- it’s just that they come in abundance and if you’re a Los Angeles Rams fan, you’re most likely scrolling to the bottom of the page when it comes to the offensive side of the ball.
Well, today was no different. Pro Football Focus ranked all 32 NFL receiving corps by team. I’ve never been good at maths, actually, that’s a lie -- I’m really good with maths and 32-of-32 is a less than optimal position. The crazy part is that PFF originally wrote the article back on July 13, but this newest edition accounts for the changes made during that time among other things. The Rams still did not move up.
Here is what PFF had to say about the Rams’ receiving corps
This isn’t an ideal welcome to Los Angeles for Jared Goff (California), with—in our opinion—the lowest-ranked group of wide receivers and tight ends in the NFL waiting for him. Lance Kendricks dropped four of the 29 catchable passes thrown his way last season, and doesn’t look ready to be the team’s top tight end, so it may not be long before Tyler Higbee (Western Kentucky), who had the fifth-highest receiving grade among tight ends in college a year ago, takes his spot in the starting line up. At wide receiver, Tavon Austin has graded higher as a runner than as a receiver in every season since entering the league. He can make people miss in space, though, forcing 19 missed tackles on 52 receptions, and 14 on 52 carries a year ago. Kenny Britt is the default top receiver on this roster, but had more drops (five) than touchdowns (three) a year ago.
Before I slate the Rams, I wanna take a moment to stand up for them. Giving up what they did to get Goff inevitably meant they weren’t going to get their hands on an impact receiver in this year’s NFL Draft or in next year’s, barring a trade. The quarterback position is the hardest position to fill in the NFL and the Rams knew they needed a lot, but they took care of their biggest priority first. This doesn’t really account for that, at least in passing.
PFF’s projected starters for the Rams are WR Kenny Britt, WR Tavon Austin, WR Brian Quick, and TE Lance Kendricks. The Rams also have Pharoh Cooper, Cory Harkey, Tyler Higbee, and Mike Thomas. A decent and steady roster, but nothing that jumps off the page. This is very much a blue collar group with a couple of skilled playmakers.
Speaking of playmakers, PFF also shared an interesting stat on Tavon Austin. In every single season Austin has been in the league, he’s graded higher as a runner than he has as a receiver. This may explain head coach Jeff Fisher’s Hundred Catch Theory; It’s like E. Honda’s Hundred Hand Slap, except the hands doing the slapping belong to the offensive play-callers and the people being slapped are the fans.
So what should the Rams do? It’s quite simple. Let the players play and address these needs at the first available opening. That sounds stupid to say and even more stupid to write, but outside of a possible trade before the deadline, what are the real options? Even if the Rams manage a trade before the deadline, it seems unlikely that it would be for an impact receiver. There just aren’t enough of them on the market such that a team would want to ditch theirs for picks the Rams don’t even have.
This group is going to have to find a way to get it done. With Goff being inactive on Week 1, that means they will need to be on the same page as Case Keenum from the first snap. The media swore up and down that Goff would be starting Week 1, but Fisher said all along that Keenum is his guy right now and Goff is still learning. Until Goff overtakes Keenum holistically, it stands to reason that Keenum will be the guy going forward.
At that point, there ain’t nothin to it but to do it.