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TST Weekly Slack Chat: ILB depth chart, Mike Clay’s projections, offseason plans and more

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3k, Sosa and Tevin talked up where the Los Angeles Rams are at and where they’re headed as the 2018 offseason rolls on.

New Orleans Saints v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

We had a lineup change this week for our Slack chat. This week, TST’s very own Tevin Broner joined us to look at all kinds of stuff as the Los Angeles Ramsoffseason rolls along, ranging from Mike Clay’s projections, the ILB depth chart, offseason schedule, the rookie class, as well as the undrafted free agents.

Have a look!

Aquip Talip (TST Author Sosa Kremenjas): Alright, welcome back to another episode of Slack Chat! We got a special guest on today

Joe McAtee (TST Managing Editor 3k): Me!

Aquip Talip: One of our resident writers - Tevin Broner - is joining us today

Big Daddy Tevin (TST Author Tevin Broner): Aye! I’m happy to finally be here

Joe McAtee: Oh right

Aquip Talip: Anyways, let’s jump into the Q’s after my epic intro

Joe McAtee: That intro was as epic as a Mobb Deep intro

(i.e. garbage)

Aquip Talip: Like a Havoc first-line?

(gold)

Big Daddy Tevin: What’s a Havoc?

Aquip Talip: Aaaaand we’re done here.

Joe McAtee: This is why I am glad Tevin is here

Big Daddy Tevin: I only know 50 cent

the greatest NY rapper

Joe McAtee: hahahahahahaha

Aquip Talip: Let’s get to work

1) Do you think Mike Clay’s projections are going to be accurate? Which do you think will be far off?

What’s y’alls opinions here?

Big Daddy Tevin: I hope so

Joe McAtee: Man, there was a lot in there!

Aquip Talip: Definitely

Joe McAtee: I got three questions on it for y’all

First, what do we think about the obvious ceiling he’s suggesting on individual WR outputs?

Aquip Talip: I think in general, he played it safe pretty much everywhere

Big Daddy Tevin: I think at least one guy has to have 1,000 yards

Aquip Talip: I think that group might be his most accurate projection, to be honest

Joe McAtee: Is it possible to get a real WR1 in terms of output or do we just have a Watkins/Cooks, Woods, Kupp trio that can’t really bust out?

Aquip Talip: Technically what’s a bust out?

1,000 yards?

Joe McAtee: Or just more than their peers

Big Daddy Tevin: I think so

But it’s hard to predict who

Joe McAtee: I find that aspect of the offense fascinating

Aquip Talip: I wouldn’t be shocked at all if someone did hit 1,000 yards, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t hold my breath

And that’s not a knock on them as opposed to the amount of weapons readily available on the offense

Big Daddy Tevin: That’s true

Joe McAtee: Cause it’s really difficult to isolate skill from this if that’s what we’re going to see

Aquip Talip: Right

Big Daddy Tevin: I think it’s going to come down to Cooks being that vertical guy

I don’t love Goff’s deep ball though

Joe McAtee: A majority of Rams fans were against re-signing WR Sammy Watkins for top tier money because he wasn’t producing like it, but the projections raise the question of if that’s even going to be possible in this offense

And yeah Goff factors into that too

Aquip Talip: I think in the right situation all three are 1,000-yard talent WR’s, but the opportunity just probably won’t be there for them on our offense

Which is why the trade for WR Brandin Cooks was perplexing to me

At best, he balls (1,000-ish) again and you’re paying him Watkins money if not more (16M/year). At worst it’s a 600-800 yard season, he flames out badly, and you either still pay him top notch money or he walks...

Big Daddy Tevin: They have the money to burn

Aquip Talip: Aaron Donald doesn’t think so!

Big Daddy Tevin: That’s why they have to sign him before the season, but that’s another story

What about the TE’s?

Joe McAtee: I’m in for a bigger year from TE Gerald Everett aka Young Gerald

Big Daddy Tevin: So many mouths to feed

Joe McAtee: So many mouths

Joe McAtee: My second question was on the defense and kinda a similar aspect of the so many mouths to feed

Ndamukong Suh, Donald, Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters...

There are too many stars to rack up numbers, no?

Aquip Talip: I think they’ll all eat

Big Daddy Tevin: So many great names

Joe McAtee: If you’re an opposing offense, you just gotta take some L’s and either throw the ball away or just scheme risk-averse concepts, right?

Big Daddy Tevin: I mean I don’t expect what Suh does to impact the stat shit as much.

Joe McAtee: How many interceptable balls are you even throwing? How many dropbacks are you even letting your QB take against Suh/Donald?

Aquip Talip: Plenty?

Big Daddy Tevin: The Rams can go into dime and let Barron and the secondary eat

Aquip Talip: You have to at some point

65 snaps, and if you’re trailing in the game you won’t have much of a choice

Big Daddy Tevin: Especially if the offense moves the ball

Joe McAtee: Sure, but that’s second half, yeah?

Aquip Talip: I guess

Joe McAtee: Kinda like what we saw against the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants last year

Slow burn-type dominance

Aquip Talip: But you should have trouble running the ball vs Brockers/AD/Suh too!

Joe McAtee: You should

Big Daddy Tevin: Yup

It seems too perfect huh?

Aquip Talip: Yup lol

Joe McAtee: I just wonder statistically if the Rams are so loaded roster-wise that there won’t be as big an opportunity to rack up numbers

Big Daddy Tevin: That’s a good thing though

Joe McAtee: A great thing!

I just think a lot of fans bristle at the lower numbers without perhaps recognizing it has less to do with a lower assessment of the guys we have and more of the fact that offenses are going to scheme them out and try (emphasis on try) to attack elsewhere

Big Daddy Tevin: It will keep offensive coordinators on their toes

Last season it was just slow down Donald and avoid their safeties

Now it’s watch out for the interior and be wary of throwing the ball

Aquip Talip: I’m not too worried

Big Daddy Tevin: I am worried about the edge rushers though

Because eventually guys do get open if they aren’t pressured

Aquip Talip: I take solace in stats when my team sucks, but if we’re pulling down 11, 12, 13 win seasons that’s all in the furthest back of my brain

Joe McAtee: And the edge rusher thing was kinda my third question on these. Are any rookies going to factor besides John Kelly?

Clay had them barely getting much action

Aquip Talip: Tough to say, but most likely not

Depending on what kind of factor you’re looking for

Big Daddy Tevin: EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo hopefully.

Joe McAtee: He had him at 93 snaps, Tev!

That’s less than 6 snaps per game

Joe McAtee: Of course that was before the news the Rams released OLB Carlos Thompson

Big Daddy Tevin: He will play more

Joe McAtee: I could see it

Big Daddy Tevin: The Rams love rotating DL and LB’s

Aquip Talip: I can see a handful of plays here or there (maybe 3 or 4 sacks), but iunno man

Joe McAtee: Sure depends on how that depth chart shakes out coming out of Phase III and into training camp and the preseason, right Sosa?

Aquip Talip: Definitely

I’m inclined to think at a least a few rookies will be in the rotation at least, maybe heavily

Opportunity is king!

Joe McAtee: The depth chart?

Big Daddy Tevin: They might not make a big impact

Joe McAtee: It depends on the depth chart?

Aquip Talip: I’m willing to bet Okoronkwo gets more snaps than 93 though lol

Big Daddy Tevin: I agree

Joe McAtee: Man, we should talk about the linebacker depth chart!

Aquip Talip: I guess that’s a great segment into Q #2:

What’s your opinion on the LB depth chart? Who’s starting at ILB? OLB? Any sleepers? Who’s the safest bet inside or outside?

Joe McAtee: The depth chart!

Good question

Big Daddy Tevin: Yikes

Aquip Talip: Gimme some opinions on that group

Joe McAtee: Yeesh, man I dunno

I mean, safest bet is ILB Mark Barron...and uh...

Uh...

Big Daddy Tevin: That’s it

Joe McAtee: Yeah, I dunno

Aquip Talip: I think if you follow me on twitter I’m confident that Ramik Wilson won’t be starting at ILB. Haha

Big Daddy Tevin: Wilson is maybe a depth guy

Maybe the starters aren’t on the team yet

Joe McAtee: Here would be the only thing I’d push back on with Ramik

Who’s starting over him in a four-man LB group?

I mean, I like Micah Kiser too

But he’s a fifth-round rookie

And Tegray Scales is a great UDFA add...but he’s a rookie UDFA

Big Daddy Tevin: Yeah that’s true

Aquip Talip: I think it’s safe to say Mark Barron starts at 1 ILB spot

That really only gives Ramik one spot to fight for

And in a LOADED FA and Draft class, I reaaaaally choose to believe the Rams are high on Cory Littleton

Big Daddy Tevin: How good is Littleton?

Aquip Talip: They didn’t even bother adding any ILB (outside of Ramik)

Joe McAtee: Yeah, I’d bet on Littleton topping Ramik before the rookies

But I wouldn’t bet much. I sincerely think its Barron and Wilson going into camp

Big Daddy Tevin: Yeah it’s a weird gamble

Joe McAtee: But with a door open

The OLB spots are even more open for me

Big Daddy Tevin: But anyone is an upgrade over ILB Alec Ogletree

Joe McAtee: In the run game, for sure

Big Daddy Tevin: OLB Matt Longacre could play significant snaps

That is scary to me

Joe McAtee: Welcome to 2018!

I love it

Aquip Talip: I saw they’re slowly going to transition Morgan Fox as more of a standup OLB?

Color me intrigued

Joe McAtee: Yeah, McBae mentioned him in the presser yesterday

Big Daddy Tevin: OLB Samson Ebukam has the potential to be a good rusher and I know Sosa loves him

Aquip Talip: Haha Tev!

Joe McAtee: Longacre, Okoronkwo, Fox, Trevon Young, Ejuan Price

Big Daddy Tevin: A lot of names with no production in the NFL

Aquip Talip: I’m an Ejuan Price stan, hopefully he gets a shot this time around

Yeah it’s a super tough projection

Not because we don’t know who’s necessarily good, but we don’t know who’s going to play and when

Big Daddy Tevin: I have no idea who will start either position

It will be fun to watch in camp

Aquip Talip: Let them all duke it out and literally let the best man win/play

Joe McAtee: Plus the fascinating thing to me at OLB isn’t just who starts but how heavily they rotate

Connor Barwin and Robert Quinn were at about 60% of the snaps last year

Ebukam and Longacre were at about 35%

I could see those two lines both creeping closer to 50

Big Daddy Tevin: I could as well

Joe McAtee: Like the starters at 55 and the second string at like 40

Big Daddy Tevin: I don’t think there is one dominant guy

Yet

We have some speed rushers and some hustle rushers

The one reason that I think Ogbo will have a chance to carve out a role

He kicked ass rushing with different moves and speed

Joe McAtee: I was a little surprised they didn’t add any UDFAs into that mix outside of maybe Brian Womac

Aquip Talip: This is a good transition point I’d say. We could talk about the LB group pretty much all day

Big Daddy Tevin: One last thing

Aquip Talip: Please do

Big Daddy Tevin: I could almost guarantee the Rams try to bring in a veteran Edge rusher this summer

Aquip Talip: When? Lol

Big Daddy Tevin: Maybe not to start but it is solely needed

Joe McAtee: After 53-man roster cuts?

Big Daddy Tevin: Before preseason starts up

Aquip Talip: I think Junior Galette would have been a HOME RUN FA addition at this point, but it seems the Rams are happy to roll with what they got for now

Big Daddy Tevin: Everyone is happy right now

But those Super Bowl expectations are high

Joe McAtee: Barwin was working out with Donald and Tyrunn Walker yesterday...

Big Daddy Tevin: I could see him returning. I’m not his biggest fan, but in a rotation and to help teach it’s fine

Aquip Talip: Okay, on that note, Q #3:

Is there any UDFA that catches your eye who might make the roster?

Joe McAtee: A bunch

Big Daddy Tevin: One or two for me

Joe McAtee: Special teams are a UDFA’s best friend

Aquip Talip: Please do

For example: I think Scales could very well edge out Wilson for a roster spot

Joe McAtee: Man, you really do hate Ramik!

Off the 53-man?!

Aquip Talip: I mean, the Kansas City Chiefs run defense was bad....

And all they did was trade for Reggie Ragland and pay huge money to an ILB in FA as opposed to keeping either of Ramik Wilson or Derrick Johnson.......

Big Daddy Tevin: I’m not a big Scales fan. But people loved him pre-draft

Aquip Talip: I don’t know anything about TE Codey McElroy, but the TE group is probably the easiest one to crack at this point for a UDFA

Joe McAtee: He’s a super athlete, but I don’t see him makin the 53-man. Then again, Johnny Mundt.........

Big Daddy Tevin: I think Scales has the best chance to make the 53-man roster

Joe McAtee: The first wave of UDFAs always has the leg up

Scales, WR Steven Mitchell, G Jeremiah Kolone, WR LaQuvionte Gonzalez, WR Ricky Jeune

I could see all of ‘em creeping in

Big Daddy Tevin: There’s some hype around that QB the Rams signed, Luis Perez

Aquip Talip: I cannot see him cracking the 53 tbh

Big Daddy Tevin: He could make the practice squad

Joe McAtee: Yeah, Perez? Great story. But man, you’re talking about a STEEP curve

Aquip Talip: I like Mitchell, but man that WR room is going to be soooo hard to crack

Big Daddy Tevin: But man. This roster is loaded

Joe McAtee: Yeah, but honestly he wouldn’t be cracking the WR room, right?

He’d be a ST add

Big Daddy Tevin: Practice squad and special team players

Aquip Talip: Five guys are guaranteed to make the 53 at WR

One of which is a 2x pro bowler on ST’s

Joe McAtee: Are they Sosa?

Aquip Talip: Yes

Cooks/Woods/Kupp/JRey/Pharoh

They aren’t going anywhere

Joe McAtee: Well that’s the thing

Is Pharoh even really in the WR mix?

I could see him getting jumped on the WR depth chart while still being the KR1/PR1

Aquip Talip: I guess

I consider him near the bottom on the WR depth chart anyways

Big Daddy Tevin: Yeah, I don’t want him catching passes

Joe McAtee: Right?

So much of what people think about WR Josh Reynolds is based on preseason production (see: former Rams WR Nelson Spruce)

If a guy comes out and puts up a game or two in the preseason...

Aquip Talip: I can’t see it, to be honest

Big Daddy Tevin: Woah.... hey, don’t talk about Reynolds

That’s my dude.

I think there’s a role for Reynolds one day

Aquip Talip: If anything a WR will need to duke it out with Mike Thomas for a roster spot. Which is entirely possible

Big Daddy Tevin: I forgot about Mike Thomas

Man that guy had a lot of hype

Spruce was supposed to be the savior

Joe McAtee: It happens nearly every year. Let Mitchell go 4/50/1 for a game or two this preseason and watch the nonsense bloom

Ricky Jeune’s a big kid. He hits a red zone series well? You can book the hype train taking off

Big Daddy Tevin: The Rams keep finding these great preseason receivers

Joe McAtee: That’s what’s fun about the back end of the roster is that it’s such a tenuous line

But that’s the real value of the preseason

Aquip Talip: It’s fun as hell

Big Daddy Tevin: I’ve also fell in the trap

Joe McAtee: We all do!

Aquip Talip: I’ll bet nobody expected RB Justin Davis to make the roster last year, so I get what you’re saying Joe

All it takes is a few big plays

Big Daddy Tevin: Damn preseason football

Joe McAtee: Man that RB depth chart is

Beyond Just Todd Gurley, you got a ton of snaps to work out!

Joe McAtee: Malcolm Brown, John Kelly, Justin Davis, Larry Rose, Nick Holley

Big Daddy Tevin: Justin Davis is going to have to battle

Malcolm Brown does as well. However he does bring the size that no one else has on the roster so he could be safe

Joe McAtee: One position group we don’t talk about much because the starters are both locked in and really, really, really good?

The secondary

Wade got a job on his hands sorting that out

Joe McAtee: I dare you to nail the CB depth chart after the main three

Talib, Peters, NRC

Aquip Talip: Shields and Hill?

Big Daddy Tevin: It also depends on if Sam Shields can still play

Just hope that the starters don’t miss games and nothing else matters

Joe McAtee: And the safeties...whew!

Big Daddy Tevin: Yeah the safeties are interesting

If S Lamarcus Joyner is hurt at any point of the season, I’m worried

Aquip Talip: I actually love the safety depth chart, but that’s for another day

Joe McAtee: Nah, speak on it Sos!

Aquip Talip: You want to know?

Joe McAtee: Yeah!

Big Daddy Tevin: Of course we do

Aquip Talip: I’m a Blake Countess stan first

Joe McAtee: Interesting

Aquip Talip: And Marqui Christian is an absolute banger who showed out in the preseason

Big Daddy Tevin: Why?

Aquip Talip: He’s a poor man’s Joyner

Big Daddy Tevin: Hmmm

Maybe preseason is important after all

Joe McAtee: Bingo

Aquip Talip: NCB/FS, positional versatility, a missile in the middle of the field, plenty of range, smart player who has no liability in terms of the scheme

Big Daddy Tevin: I will take your word on it

Aquip Talip: Don’t take mine, take Marquise Goodwin’s

Big Daddy Tevin: He better have a good preseason

Or I’m tweeting you

Aquip Talip: Q #4: What are you going to be looking for during Phase III and the interim between it and training camp?

Joe McAtee: Stuff to write about, sheesh

It’s gonna be quiet as always

Big Daddy Tevin: A nap

Aquip Talip: Agreed

Big Daddy Tevin: Drake’s new album will be dropping as well

Joe McAtee: OTAs kick off on Monday

Minicamp is a month away

Then it’s naptime for a month before training camp

Big Daddy Tevin: I’m just hoping for no big injuries

Joe McAtee: Always

All hail Rams Head Athletic Trainer Reggie Scott!

Big Daddy Tevin: Literally let Donald hold out until the 4th preseason game and I’m fine

Joe McAtee: Is he going to again?

Big Daddy Tevin: We will see

Aquip Talip: Wrap him up in 100 lbs of bubble wrap

He shouldn’t be on his legs until September 7th, or whatever

Big Daddy Tevin: But the Rams have three contracts to sign this year right?

Joe McAtee: ?

Big Daddy Tevin: What about the forgotten guy Joyner

Joe McAtee: C’mon man...

Big Daddy Tevin: Then Cooks and Donald

Joe McAtee: More than that though. They’ve got a bunch of decisions

Big Daddy Tevin: Priority A is Joyner

Joe McAtee: O-line has Rodger Saffold, Jamon Brown and Rob Havenstein all up

Joyner’s as good as gone for me

Aquip Talip: I don’t think they care about those contracts right now lol

Yeah I already know Joyner purchased his ticket out of town

Love the cat, but I seriously cannot see any way he stays

Joe McAtee: I’d bet Suh and Joyner are gone, Cooks gets a deal

Aquip Talip: Yes

Joe McAtee: The rest...man I dunno

Big Daddy Tevin: And hopefully Donald

Joe McAtee: Yeah, I dunno

Big Daddy Tevin: I mean if you’re Donald

This is the year to stick to your guns

Joe McAtee: What has changed between Donald and his representatives and Rams VP/COO Kevin Demoff and Special Assistant Tony Pastoors in the last year?

Aquip Talip: Nothing?

Big Daddy Tevin: All the eyes on the Rams, all the national games and the Super Bowl inspirations

The media can be a bitch sometimes

If Donald misses games and the Rams start losing. Ouch

Joe McAtee: He can’t miss anything this year

Joe McAtee: Has to report to camp

But the Rams sure could play him out on the fifth-year and then tag him

He’s two years older than Tru was when they first tagged him

Big Daddy Tevin: They could,

But I don’t know. I feel like with all of the eyes on the Rams

They would want to wrap it quickly

Aquip Talip: Just hand Donald the blank check, someone’s going to do it

Joe McAtee: He’s running out of time to cash in

Aquip Talip: Honestly, I don’t think they care about that

Joe McAtee: I don’t either Sos, and that’s honestly sad to me

Aquip Talip: Me too

But they should do right by him

Joe McAtee: Aaron Donald doesn’t have anything to prove

Aquip Talip: He gave too much and worked too hard to still be begging for a deal out here

Big Daddy Tevin: Just pay the man

Joe McAtee: #paytheman

Aquip Talip: #PaytheFrickinMan

Joe McAtee: #please

Big Daddy Tevin: Or trade him to the Pats

Haha

Aquip Talip: We’re going to need to move to Q #5 because I don’t feel so good anymore

Which player has the most to prove heading into the season?

not Aaron Donald...

Joe McAtee: Jared

Big Daddy Tevin: Jared Goff

Joe McAtee: Jared

Big Daddy Tevin: 100%

Aquip Talip: Whew

Joe McAtee: Jared

Aquip Talip: #SameBrainAlert

Joe McAtee: Jared

Honestly, I’m kinda miffed we didn’t get to have a season with him under the spotlight

It’s turned into the Super Bowl or bust season which, yanno, is still gonna be great narrative-wise

But I kinda feel robbed a bit

Big Daddy Tevin: I do as well

Joe McAtee: It’s Jared Goff’s third year in the NFL

Clay’s ranking had our QB depth chart ranked 17th

Big Daddy Tevin: And he’s coming off a great first full year of starting

Joe McAtee: A great first full year

And there’s no excuse with his surroundings: coaching, WR, OL, RB support

Big Daddy Tevin: But it’s usually that second where things unravel

Look at Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

Plus, I don’t think that Goff has shown himself to be really good yet

Joe McAtee: I don’t either

Not individually

That’s why this season is so big for him individually

Aquip Talip: I think he’s good, but it’s clear he’s more or a “piece” as opposed to “the guy” on at QB

Joe McAtee: So far, right

Aquip Talip: He’s the opposite of whatever Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson are for their teams

Which is okay. Ain’t no knock in having an amazing roster and HC, that’s the way it should be!

Big Daddy Tevin: I mean how many games do you think he threw for more than 300 yards?

Joe McAtee: I think the better way to ask that Tevin is how many games did he throw for 300 yards because of his own performance individually?

Big Daddy Tevin: Not many

He has flashed

Joe McAtee: Yup

And he’s just 23!

Big Daddy Tevin: But I can’t think of many games we have won because of him

Joe McAtee: This is Year #3

Aquip Talip: I feel much better about his future prospects though, especially when you watch games like that first one vs Seattle?

That comeback W we should have had was absolutely eye opening to me

Big Daddy Tevin: That first Seahawks game the final drive was really good

Aquip Talip: Lol right Tev?

Big Daddy Tevin: I was really surprised

So far he’s been the wagon and not the driver

Joe McAtee: He’s got it in the bag

We just gotta see more of it, yeah?

Is that fair?

Aquip Talip: Sure

Big Daddy Tevin: Yeah like you said Joe

This is the perfect situation for him

Aquip Talip: I mean there’s nothing wrong with being part of the offense anymore

Big Daddy Tevin: I feel a lot better having him

I think we all respect the transformation he’s done

We just need to see him take that leap

Joe McAtee: Cause what’s tough about thinking about him is he’s making $3m this year. $4.25 next. Let him grow. Great situation.

Once this rookie deal’s up? You’re potentially looking at $25m+

And that’s a tough, tough, tough decision

Big Daddy Tevin: Well

He’s no Blaine Gabbert

Or Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr

Joe McAtee: That doesn’t make me feel better, Tevin!

Help me out!

Big Daddy Tevin: I think he can become a top-10 guy this season with this team

Joe McAtee: There we go! Super Bowl or bust, baby!

Aquip Talip: Anyways, thanks for tuning into another episode of Slack Chat! Thanks to Tev for coming out and joining us!