To the dismay of many Los Angeles Rams fans, neither Adam Schefter nor Ian Rapoport broke the news that the Rams had signed WR DeSean Jackson or WR Alshon Jeffery in the early stages of the 2017 NFL Free Agency period. For a team in dire need of a deep threat, these two names stood out among the crowd in a relatively shallow pool of free agent star receivers.
In a move that surprised many, the Rams signed former Buffalo Bills’ WR Robert Woods to a 5-year, $39m deal in March. Having never eclipsed the 700-yard mark in his career, the acquisition of the second-round pick from the 2013 NFL Draft came with mixed reviews.
Fans would later get clarification on why the Rams were eyeing Woods as opposed to the aforementioned deep threats. We may not have known it at the time, but this signing, among others, coincided with head coach Sean McVay’s new mantra.
We Not Me.
To change the Rams’ culture, McVay focused on signing locker room guys — players who possess both the skills and abilities needed to succeed on the field, but also display leadership qualities and strong character.
McVay reiterated the point in the introductory press conference for Woods and new left tackle Andrew Whitworth:
I think, when you really look at both Andrew and Robert, what they’ll bring to the table as far as (being) great football players, but also great people, is really important to us.
It remains to be seen when/if Woods can shake the “possession receiver” label and surpass 700 yards in a single season, but he figures to be featured early and often in the Rams’ passing attack in the upcoming year.
There isn’t one. Woods, having just signed with the team in March, is as much a lock to make the team - and have a starting spot - as Aaron Donald.
What there may be a battle for, however, is targets. While Woods figures to be the primary target for Rams’ QB Jared Goff, I could see their 2017 NFL Draft third-round pick Cooper Kupp challenging Woods for the most looks this season.
Regardless, Woods isn’t competing with anyone for a roster spot. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if he’s their most productive receiver in 2017.
My expectation for Robert Woods is that he will do it all. Because he said he can do it all. Sean McVay has said he can do it all. And therefore it’s only fair to hold them both to it.
Here’s Woods’ response when asked what type of receiver he thinks he is at his introductory press conference:
I would say complete. I look at my game as a complete receiver. A complete receiver needs to be able to play inside and outside. I think I can move all around the field. I can match up against quick corners. I can match up against big corners, with the speed and the quickness...and the last thing is blocking. Blocking on the outside and perimeter to get our backs free, which I’ve done previously.
Here’s what McVay had to say about Woods moments later:
We’re lucky to have him because he’s a versatile player. We’ve had some coaches that have been around him – some coaches that I know. I’ve been a big fan of Robert’s, watching him all the way from when he was playing at USC, and think he’s one of the rare players that has the ability to play both on the inside and the outside, competes in both phases – he competes in the run game – where he’s blocking for his teammates just like he was mentioning there.
Woods is a polished wide receiver, who’s been putting in overtime with Jared Goff this offseason. The extra effort and developing strong rapport with his QB, coupled with what hopes to be a dynamic offense, should prove beneficial for all involved when the Rams take the field this fall.
Chances of Making the Roster (10/10)
If “11/10” were an option, I would’ve selected that. Woods is a lock.