In an NFL that prizes pass-catching more than ever, the Los Angeles Rams’ tandem of Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks were ranked as the fourth-best wide receiver tandem in the league by NFL.com’s James Jones.
Fourth-best isn’t anything to look down on. It’s hard to argue that the top two tandems chosen - Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. plus WR Jarvis Landry and Minnesota Vikings WR Stefon Diggs and WR Adam Thielen - aren’t coherent choices. Personally, Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams and WR Keenan Allen across town wouldn’t be my third choice on the list; I’d go with New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas and RB Alvin Kamara. But because this is purely a wide receiver exercise and because the Rams’ offense is predicated on pre-snap motion, manufacturing space, receiver sweeps, and heavy playaction, Head Coach Sean McVay and QB Jared Goff employ wide receivers differently and spread the wealth. Woods and Cooks finished last season one after the other as the 13th and 14th best receivers in the league in terms of yardage, 18th and 21st in catches, and 27th and 41st in touchdowns, respectively.
For comparison’s sake, Landry was 20th and Beckham Jr. 23rd in catches, 22nd and 18th in yards, and 63rd and 28th in touchdowns, respectively.
Thielen and Diggs - 11th and 12th in touchdowns, 4th and 11th in receptions, and 9th and 20th in yards - arguably have a better claim to the top spot.
That goes without mentioning a pre-ACL tear Cooper Kupp, who ate into Woods’ and Cooks’ totals as Goff’s go-to safety blanket and the third limb on the Rams’ devastating offensive tricycle.
However, this list is about projected production and as the list posits: “Kupp is something of a wild card coming back from an ACL tear.” All three tandems ahead of Los Angeles’ should be poised for big seasons - especially with Williams’ continued ascendancy with the Chargers and Beckham’s change of scenery with the Browns.
Still, it’s hard to bet against Woods and Cooks remaining in at least the top five tandems for 2019.