The Los Angeles Rams enter the 2021 season with a group of receivers that mixes experience and speed with youth and more speed.
Veterans Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp headline the unit thanks to four years of headlining the unit, followed by free agent signee DeSean Jackson, second-year pro Van Jefferson, and rookie Tutu Atwell. With so many receivers for Matthew Stafford to pass the ball around to and no idea how he will respond to having so many weapons, it will be interesting to see how he distributes the ball to his pass-catchers.
This is a projection for how Stafford will distribute the ball in 2021. How many snaps? How many yards? How many touchdowns? For the top five receivers on the Rams.
In his last four seasons with the Rams, Woods has been the most consistent contributor on the offensive side of the ball. He has averaged 917 snaps and has been on the field 83% of the time. That has translated to 4,070 yards and 19 touchdowns in four years, and he’s twice surpassed the 1,000-yard mark.
Even though Woods has averaged over 1,000 snaps in the last three seasons, and the NFL is going to a 17-game schedule, we have to assume that McVay won’t push his veterans well past the 1,100-snap mark just because he can. There has to be some concessions made for the fact that Woods has already been in the league so long and only once gone over the 1,000-snap mark (2018). And on top of that, we know these players also want to be healthy and prepared to play up to 300 snaps in the postseason.
Accounting for the idea that McVay will regulate his veterans snaps and that Woods could potentially miss a game or two, we won’t just spread it out over a 17-game season and expect 1,200 snaps.
2021 projections: 986 snaps, 1,081 receiving yards, seven touchdowns
Being paired up with veteran Woods and McVay has surely helped Kupp blossom into the receiver he is today, averaging 725 snaps per season with a low of 439 in 2018 due to a torn left ACL. Despite some injuries during his tenure with LA, Kupp is on the field for 66% of downs and has accumulated 3,570 career receiving yards and 24 touchdowns.
2021 projections: 840 snaps, 1,131 receiving yards, eight touchdowns
Jackson at this point is a household name as one of the best deep threat receivers in the game. In the last two years he has had difficulties staying on the field, only playing three games in 2019 and five in 2020, but when on the field in 2020 he still showed he had some juice left in him after 12 years in the league.
Jackson had two 1,000+ yard years with McVay as his offensive coordinator in his tenure with the Washington Football Team. Though he may not see the field as much this season with Woods and Kupp on the field, Jackson gives Matthew Stafford a dynamic deep ball threat to show off his arm.
2021 projections: 563 snaps, 546 receiving yards, four touchdowns
Jefferson was drafted in the second round in 2020 and had a mediocre rookie season with 220 yards on 19 receptions. However, after a full season under his belt and a training camp not hampered by Covid restrictions, the new expectation is that he will fill the void that was left after the departure of Josh Reynolds to the Tennessee Titans this offseason.
2021 projections: 576 snaps, 386 receiving yards, three touchdowns
College football's best on offense— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 16, 2019
Best Slot Receiver: Tutu Atwell, Louisville
Atwell is an intriguing rookie for the Rams drafted in the second round this year.
He is undersized but boasted a 4.32 40-yard dash time, was third in YAC in the 2019-2020 college season, and holds Louisville’s receiving record for most yards in a single season. He will most likely be groomed by DeSean Jackson before seeing too much of the field and be used as a gadget player in McVay’s offense. With Cam Akers out for the remainder of the season, it will also be interesting how McVay may use him out of the backfield with end-arounds and WR screens.
2021 projections: 187 snaps, 220 receiving yards, two touchdowns, punt returns