What needs will the LA Rams have in 2022 and 2023? That will depend a lot on how things go for certain players and positions in 2021. So today let’s focus on which players can prove themselves next season to help alleviate those potential needs, and which positions may command attention in the near future no matter what.
Potential Need in 2022-2023: Offensive Tackle
In-house Options: Bobby Evans, Tremayne Anchrum, Joseph Noteboom, Max Pircher, Alaric Jackson
The Rams will surely need to replace Andrew Whitworth by 2023, but more likely by 2022. Maybe even at some point next season, though that is a potential disaster that Sean McVay will hope to avoid. Additionally, Rob Havenstein becomes a free agent in 2023 and if he plays well enough for a new contract, that could cost Los Angeles well over $10 million per season.
That’s a big raise over Havenstein’s $8.33 million cap hits over the next two years.
Evans is slated to start at right guard in 2021 and that could be his long-term position, if he does indeed a) win the job and b) excel as a starter. There just isn’t much known about any of the Rams’ in-house options other than what we’ve seen from Noteboom.
But Noteboom will be a free agent in 2022 and he may not possess the ceiling of an elite left tackle. One name to keep an eye on long-term is Pircher, a practice squad exception who will get a lot of development time over the next year. While he’s a long shot, consider the career of Eagles tackle Jordan Mailata, himself once a product of the NFL’s international pathway program.
The players who seem to have the best opportunity to make it clear to Les Snead and McVay that they don’t have a need at left tackle would seem to be Noteboom and Evans. Otherwise, this would seem to be a top priority next year.
Potential Need in 2022-2023: Outside Cornerback
In-house Options: Darious Williams, Robert Rochell, David Long, Donte Deayon, Dayan Lake
LA has Jalen Ramsey locked down long-term, but Williams is going to be an unrestricted free agent in 2022 and it could be difficult to sign him if he becomes worth $15 million+ per season. Even at half that cost, the Rams would be scrambling for appropriate cap space.
To prepare for this, the Rams added Rochell in the fourth round of the draft as another option to compete against 2019 third rounder David Long, Jr.. For now, we only know that McVay has praised Long in terms of practice, but now we need to see it on game day.
I could totally see Los Angeles entering the 2022 season with Ramsey, Long, and Rochell as their cornerbacks, but that reality surely wouldn’t preclude Snead from drafting a cornerback as early as he can. It can take one or two years to get comfortable covering NFL wide receivers, as we’ve already seen from Long and Williams, so the 2022 draft wouldn’t just fill current needs, but the needs of the following two seasons.
Potential Need in 2022-2023: Linebacker
In-house Options: Many
How the linebacker rotation eventually gets sorted out could be LA’s story of summer. Or at least, the training camp battle most worth watching in training camp and preseason. There are many combinations of linebackers who could end up as the three starters alongside Leonard Floyd (but keep in mind that on many downs we might see as many cornerbacks or safeties as we do linebackers; “3-4 base” is not as simple as running the same 11 players on every down) and many 2022 free agents among them.
Travin Howard, Micah Kiser, Kenny Young, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Justin Lawler, Troy Reeder, and Derrick Moncrief are all set to become unrestricted free agents next year.
If any one of these linebackers establishes himself as a must-have every-down linebacker, or even just a valuable rotational pass rusher like Okoronkwo or Reeder, it still wouldn’t guarantee him a long-term future with the Rams. Consider the case of a player like Cory Littleton, whose high level of play with LA didn’t land him a career job with the Rams, and now he’s struggling to find his place with the Raiders.
Still, the Rams are not in a dire situation at linebacker. LA has Floyd, Terrell Lewis, Ernest Jones, Justin Hollins, and Christian Rozeboom for at least two more years, and we can’t say if Taylor Rapp won’t eventually move down to the box eventually.
Which of these positions would you most like to see the Rams invest into in the 2022 draft?
This poll is closed