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Are the Rams now a ‘sleeper’ team for next season?

With one 9-7 season between them and the Super Bowl, the Rams have dropped a tier or two in the public eye

NFL: Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Rams went to the Super Bowl at the end of the 2018 season and had boasted one of the NFL’s best offenses over a two-year period, but stumbled enough times in 2019 to miss the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Salary cap challenges and injuries forced the team to make some difficult cuts/deals and a trade for Jalen Ramsey last season left them without a first round pick for additional reinforcements.

With that information in hand, the Rams haven’t been seen as the powerhouse for 2020 as would have been assumed following the 2017-2018 campaigns. But that doesn’t mean that LA isn’t a contender next season either.

(If I could find one, this would be a good place for one of those tweets where a list of players under contract through a certain year, say 2022, is highlighted as a strength for a team even though most contracts never pan out as envisioned.)

In their most recent power rankings, ESPN listed the Rams at 17th in the league after the draft. They were also 17th after free agency.

Player who benefited: QB Jared Goff. The Rams moved on from two key players when they released running back Todd Gurley and traded receiver Brandin Cooks. Gurley was Goff’s every-down back, and Cooks was the speedy deep threat who stretched a defense. But with their first two picks in the draft, both in the second round, the Rams selected Florida State RB Cam Akers and Florida WR Van Jefferson. The team also picked up tight end Brycen Hopkins in the fourth round. They are expected to contribute as rookies, and their addition ensures that Goff will again have a full arsenal of playmakers. — Lindsey Thiry

LA was sandwiched between the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons. Do those teams have as much talent as the Rams do?

In their corner, the Rams feature the game’s best defensive player in Aaron Donald, a cornerback who could be the best at his position in Ramsey, two receivers who I believe are talented enough to make an All-Pro roster one day in Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, plus a potential Hall of Fame left tackle in Andrew Whitworth. Few teams could say that their “cream” that rises to the top is as good as that. It is the pieces in between them, the coaching, and a season of positive news on the injury front that makes the difference between doing better, worse, or the same as “17th-best team.”

That will of course come down to Jared Goff’s play at QB, first and foremost.

Plus the other four members of the offensive line each week, the performance of the running backs as compared to Todd Gurley in 2019, and seeking one or two unexpected fantastic seasons from someone on defense such as Leonard Floyd, Samson Ebukam, Taylor Rapp, John Johnson, or maybe Tyler Higbee finds some George Kittle in his game.

The Rams are an interesting case to discuss as of early May, but we also know they don’t have the capability to make many more roster moves from here.


Where should the Rams be "power ranked"?

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