Farrar has the Rams ranked #30:
Receivers: Tavon Austin, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Pharoh Cooper, Josh Reynolds, Mike Thomas, Nelson Spruce, Brandon Shippen, Bradley Marquez, Paul McRoberts
Tight Ends: Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Temarrick Hemingway
Put simply, the 2016 Los Angeles Rams offense was a disaster. Somehow, offensive coordinator Rob Boras managed to put together a set of schemes that exposed all the worst traits of rookie quarterback Jared Goff and made running back Todd Gurley—by far that offense's most talented player—an invisible afterthought.
The hope is new head coach Sean McVay, one of the more respected offensive play designers in the league, will improve things, but there's nowhere to go but up. Losing receiver Kenny Britt, who managed to top 1,000 yards despite everything falling apart around him, was a hit right off the bat.
McVay, the Redskins' OC from 2014 through 2016, has said he wants Tavon Austin to be the DeSean Jackson of his new offense—the speed receiver who blows by safeties and forced defenses to adjust, according to Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com.
That's quite a projection, considering that, according to Gonzalez, Austin has caught just 15 passes that traveled 15 yards in the air or more. That's partially due to the restrictive offensive systems in place under former head coach Jeff Fisher, but it also shows—as the tape reveals—that Austin has never developed into more than a gadget guy. And at 5'8" and 176 pounds, there are legitimate questions regarding his ability to do more.
More likely, Robert Woods or Cooper Kupp will be Goff's primary target. The Rams signed Woods, a former Buffalo Bills receiver, to a five-year, $34 million deal, despite the fact he's never come close to a 1,000-yard season. Woods is a good second receiver with speed (4.51 40-yard dash) and possession receiver attributes, but he's not likely the alpha dog this group desperately needs.
Neither is Kupp, but the third-round rookie from Eastern Washington could be the sleeper of the group. Kupp caught an astounding 117 passes for 1,704 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, and while he doesn't have the speed to separate from defenders on deeper routes—he ran a 4.62 40-yard dash at the scouting combine in Indianapolis—he has a great sense of how to get open outside and in the slot. Given the extent to which Goff needs to progress before he's NFL-ready, Kupp could be a major help with easy first-read throws.
Tight end Tyler Higbee is at the top of the depth chart following the release of Lance Kendricks, and though the second-year player caught just 11 passes for 85 yards in 2016, McVay told reporters to "expect big things" from Higbee.
Right now, McVay has some potential in this group of receivers but few sure things.
Just to touch upon a few things here,
- I don’t think the Rams necessarily “lost” Kenny Britt. From the information floating in the public, it never seemed like the Rams were even interested in bringing Britt back.
- Hopefully for us fans’ sake, the Rams are not relying on Tavon “becoming DeSean Jackson”, because that has failure written all over it.
- Lastly, I totally agree that Woods and Kupp will be the main recipients of the offense. They may be redundant, but for a team that hasn’t had a reliable WR since Danny Amendola left, they’ll welcome two guys with great route-running ability and the soft hands to match.
Aas Farrar said, the Rams have some potential with this group. All one can hope for is an improved offense in general. A large part of that will hinder on this receiving corps, as well as this passing attack.