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Should Les Snead and Sean McVay make incremental upgrades instead of a blockbuster?

Eight players who could add roster value and won’t break the bank

Kansas City Chiefs v Chicago Bears
Trevis Gipson could help energize the Rams pass rush
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

With the bye week having almost past and the NFL trade deadline looming ahead on November 1, the Los Angeles Rams have yet to make any significant roster moves. There were rumors, too be sure, but if General Manager Les Snead and Head Coach Sean McVay are planning any moves, they are keeping their intentions, and offers, well-hidden.

Even with a handful of players set to return from injury and suspension, there are still positional units that appear to need outside support. The Rams remain thin at tight end, edge, running back and on the offensive line.

Certainly fans would love to see a blockbuster trade, the type of move that would change L.A.’s fortunes in one bold sweep. But any big move, could/should be tempered by the Rams current salary cap and with with an eye to next season as well. The “right now”merits of acquiring any half-season rental, such as Von Miller in 2021, must be weighed against future draft capital and available monies for contracts.

According to Over the Cap, the Rams hold their own, or have traded for, six draft picks (Rounds 2,3,6,6,6,7) and are estimated to receive four compensatory selections (Rounds 5,5,6,7). The salary cap space stands currently at $4.6 mil and looking ahead to 2023, L.A. has 38 players under contract and $7.7 mil in cap space.

Going all-in has made the Rams exciting and a perennial contender, but will one major addition be enough to spark this version? Could a few minor additions be more constructive in strengthening the roster, both this season and hopefully, beyond? After scouring opposing rosters and practice squads and keeping the value criteria in mind, who could Snead and McVay bring in, to improve not only the current roster’s talent level, but also build for the future.

Acquire by trade

Edge Trevis Gipson from Chicago Bears- 6’ 3” 261 lbs.

Gipson is a rotational piece for the Bears, who over 29 games and 732 snaps, has logged 30 pressures, nine sacks, and 10 tackles for loss. Although the Chicago defense is strong, the team is reeling and General Manager Ryan Poles is on record saying he wants to rebuild through the draft, already stockpiling 11 picks.

A 5th round selection in 2020, Gipson was projected as developmental project with a high potential upside. He has a very good Relative Athletic Score (RAS), scoring 8.79. Being lumped in defensive ends and not with edges/outside linebackers, his main markdowns come on height and weight.

Gipson’s length and burst are great starting points for a pass rusher. The Rams would be able to grab a guy who has been developed by a team with a recent history of good pass rushers. He led the Bears with a Pro Football Focus 87.0 pass rush rating last year.

Tight end Trevon Wesco from Chicago Bears- 6’ 4” 267 lbs.

Completely different from the current Rams group, Wesco is an old school, block-first tight end. Certainly, he’s been a situational player, garnering 588 snaps in 45 pro games, but he has caught a few passes over his four years, 7 for 110 yards and five touchdowns. His 15.7 yards per catch means he’s catching some defenses asleep.

Blocking is his forte. Wesco is powerfully built, has long arms, almost 35”, and plays with a maulers demeanor. He stays low behind his pads, gets good drive and knows how to leverage his length. He strikes well on the move both in lead and moving from a double team to the next level.

With the ball, he has limitations. Wesco does catch with his hands, but has mostly been used on screens and as a safety valve, His speed is lacking and doesn’t have plus athleticism, a 5.92 RAS score, but does have good short area agility and bench press strength.

NFL: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
Trevon Wesco could bring a physical presence to the Rams tight end unit
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Edge Lorenzo Carter from Atlanta Falcons- 6’ 5” 250 lbs.

While his stellar physical tools have not translated into NFL stardom, Carter has the potential to mirror the career upturn and production of ex-Ram edge Dante Fowler. He signed in 2022 with Atlanta on “show me” one year deal after four seasons with the New York Giants. He was drafted by Gmen in round three of the 2018 draft.

Long, fast and athletic, Carter came out of college with the highest RAS score, 10.0 possible and showed both pursuit speed and burst. He did suffer the dreaded torn Achilles tendon in 2020. Before the injury, he played in 35 games (19 starts) with 9.5 sacks, 27 quarterback hits, and 15 tackles for loss. In 20 games since the injury, he has recorded 6.5 sacks, 13 QB hits, and eight tackles for loss.

Carter has shown the versatility to move to inside linebacker in the past, but he could give the Rams speed off the edge. He is of starter grade, hails from Georgia, and the Falcons have not yet thrown in towel so his availability may be in question. But Atlanta does have other options on the edge and they do need a running back, so unhappy Cam Akers could be packaged in a deal.

Poach from an opposing practice squad

Guard Netane Muti from Denver Broncos- 6’ 3” 315 lbs.

A film icon to draft junkies, problem is— there isn’t much of it. Injuries have been the bane of Muti since his college days. At Fresno State, it was two separate Achilles injuries and a LIsfranc foot. With Denver, the foot slowed his rookie progress and earlier this year, he had minor knee surgery.

Built like a boulder, square and blocky, Muti impressed at the NFL Combine by pushing 44 reps on the bench press, but injury kept from any other drills. Although having relatively short arms (31 3/4”), he has huge, strong hands that he keeps inside and throws his punch with wild abandon. A great striker, he has great get-off and enough mobility to easily move to the second level. If you are in his path, he will go through you.

Muti is only 23 years old and has 19 NFL games under his belt (four starts). He does have an injury-laden past from college, but his pro injuries have been a case of bad timing. He was drafted by the previous Denver braintrust and would cost the Rams very little. He would add an aggressive, bullyish attitude to the Rams run game zone. While he can set a strong anchor in pass protection, his overall plan needs work. At this point, Muti is farther along as a run blocker.

NFL: SEP 19 Broncos at Jaguars
Can Netane Muti overcome his injury history?
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Edge Cameron Goode from Miami Dolphins- 6’ 3” 240 lbs.

Goode doesn’t fit the traditional edge profile, he’s more of a hybrid edge/linebacker at his size. Great combination of size, speed, and athleticism, scored a 9.45 RAS with long arms (34 5/8”) and wingspan (81”).

His relentless motor and lateral agility makes him solid against zone read runs and RPO’s. He has good awareness in run defense and is a good tackler. He plays fast, pursues very well, and has stellar closing speed. Goode has a quick first step, good burst and can bend around the corner. Because of his size, he will need to learn to combine pass rush moves in the NFL. When stalemated, he gets his long arms up and uses vision/ hand-eye coordination to swat at the ball and/or force the quarterback to redirect the pass.

Drafted in the 7th round, Goode does not have a high ceiling. He is an athletic go-getter whose speed and versatility can offer support in three areas, edge, inside linebacker and on special teams. All at a minimum price.

Tackle Devin Cochran from Cincinnati Bengals- 6’ 7” 306 lbs.

Cochran is another affordable risk/reward candidate. Huge, athletic, and long, he comes with a 9.16 RAS score, 35 3/8” arms. and 86 1/4” wingspan. He had 41 college starts against SEC (3 years) and ACC (1 year) competition and has good film against many much higher draft picks.

Coming out of predominantly college running attacks, his pass protection technique needs polish. Like most tall players, particularly in pass sets, Cochran tends to play too high, but when he get behind his pads, he can win. He uses his wingspan and punch to advantage, creating a longer path for opposing rushers.

His move skills fit him into the Rams scheme and he brings swing tackle versatility. He needs work and doesn’t project to starter grade without gaining consistency and play strength. But with all the Rams injuries, getting started on developing potential, even for depth roles, would seem prudent. Bringing in veteran retreads will eventually run its course.

Take a stab with a street free agent

Tight end Dalton Keene- 6’ 4” 253 lbs.

Originally drafted in 2020 by the New England Patriots in the 3rd round, Keene earned 120 snaps in rookie year while battling a neck and a knee injury. In 2021, he injured his knee during training camp and missed the whole season. This year, he bounced between two teams with deep tight end rooms, the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos,

If his knee has properly healed, Keene’s versatility would be a good fit into the Rams offense. In college he worked in predominantly running offense and set up in-line, on the wing, wide in the slot, and as a fullback. In two years, as a starter at Virginia Tech, caught 49 balls for 581 yards with eight touchdowns and added 11 runs for 33 yards.

He is only 23 years old and fits the Rams backup player mold as a player who plays smart and full tilt boogie. Before his injury, his Relative Athletic Score was 9.34 and catches the ball away from his body, but what stands about his play is his aggressive style.

NFL: OCT 25 49ers at Patriots
Dalton Keene offers versatility at tight end
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Will any moves get made before the trade deadline?

Now that the San Francisco 49ers have out-bid the Rams for running back Christian McCaffrey, the capital that Snead/McVay offered Carolina could be put into action elsewhere. If L.A. is willing to spend multiple high draft picks, many impact possibilities remain on the table.

Chasing after a playmaking running back, or any game breaker for that matter, certainly makes sense, but it is hard not to be frustrated with the continued lack of attention paid to the offensive line, at edge, and at tight end. To me, these positions standout as those in need of a talent/depth upgrade, if not in one block buster move, then through a few smaller incremental additions.