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 Rams’ offseason 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
Aquip Talip: Like a Havoc first-line?
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?
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
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
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!
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...
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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!