For this team, it is all about the QB. I don't want to hear that "they haven't given [the QB] the weapons he needs." They have invested enough, in terms of draft picks and free agents on the offensive side of the ball, that they "should" be able to protect the QB, throw the ball down the field and run the ball effectively. Defensively, they have four first-round draft picks on the line and tremendous depth behind the starting group. They are fast at LB and talented (but still inconsistent) in the secondary, but this team can only go as far as [the QB] takes it -- unless the Rams move on to a new solution in the next three years.
That was Louis Riddick in the ESPN Future Power Rankings on the Rams in 2014.
For the last few years, ESPN has brought together some of their top analysts to forecast how every NFL team would fare over the three upcoming seasons and rank their quality in five areas: Roster (excluding quarterback), QB, Draft, Front Office and Coaching.
Three years later, not a ton has changed in the evaluation of the Rams...except for the ranking itself.
In 2014, the Rams were 12th.
In 2015, they had dropped to 17th.
Last year, they plummeted to 30th.
Why they're here: I find it a bit hasty of people to write off Jared Goff's NFL outlook following just seven starts, but his rookie season was certainly a little bumpy. Beyond being the No. 1 pick in the draft, Los Angeles mortgaged significant draft capital to acquire Goff. The positive? He's in good hands now with a revamped coaching staff led by offensive whiz Sean McVay. -- Field Yates
Biggest worry: McVay and QB coach Matt LaFleur must determine if Goff's nightmare rookie season was just a part of the inevitable maturation process, or if he is destined to be an underachiever. I am a firm believer in a quarterback's success/failure being largely determined by how he is coached and how the team is built around him. The Rams will find out soon enough how well they have done at selecting a coach and building a team. -- Louis Riddick
What could change for the better: The No. 25 ranking in QB outlook is 100 percent understandable and arguably could be optimistic based on the shaky first impression Goff made while posting an 0-7 starting record last season. However, there is also agreement in the league that McVay will dramatically upgrade the offensive scheming, which could realistically improve the long-term QB outlook -- whether or not Goff is part of the picture. (A McVay reunion with Kirk Cousins is another possibility down the line.) -- Mike Sando
I don’t really take issue with the ranking. The Rams’ roster is teetering on the edge, a fair reason to rank the front office as one of the two worst in the entire NFL ahead of only the Cleveland Browns.
The bigger issue is the reminder of how wasteful the final years of the Jeff Fisher Era were.
The RGIII trade allowed the Rams to stock up on premium young talents to surround the core that Fisher and General Manager Les Snead were gifted from their predecessors in former Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo and former General Manager Billy Devaney. I tracked the decline in the rankings going back to 2014.
It was actually even worse.
In 2013, the Rams were 8th overall in these rankings. The scope of the failure to capitalize on the young talent the Rams racked was best summarized by Mel Kiper’s analysis of the Rams’ roster and what ultimately was about as erroneous of an evaluation as you could have in retrospect:
Yes, they could have stayed at No. 2 overall and taken Robert Griffin III in 2012, but the deal that sent the No. 2 pick to the Redskins couldn't have possibly turned into a bigger surplus of future picks. It could be argued that by the time the Rams have finished their 2014 draft -- which, thanks to the trade with Washington has them again set to take multiple first-rounders -- no team in the NFL will have a higher overall level of cheap talent on the roster, something that creates a ton of flexibility. The new draft economics are going to make the Rams a team to contend with for years to come.
That Kiper was incredibly wrong isn’t his fault. He should have been wrong.
That the Rams proved him wrong and are now 27th in the future ranking is their own doing and a sign of how poorly they’ve been managed for years.