Interior offensive line, cornerback, and linebacker are the consensus draft needs for Los Angeles Rams, but Les Snead and Sean McVay don’t follow the NFL model of roster building, let alone the draft process. Would it make sense for the Rams to target a wideout?
Under the Snead/McVay regime, 8 of 10 of their top two draft picks have been used to bolster the offense and four of those selections were receivers. If LA gets their projected compensatory picks, they won’t be making their first choice until the very end of the third round. At that point, the best available player may well be a receiver.
As good as the LA’s receiving corps has been, it is easy to imagine a scenario where the Rams use its first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on another pass catcher. After Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson, there are some questions.
Robert Woods is coming off knee surgery. I know players come back all the time from this injury, but still, he’s 30 years old and has endured 10 years of professional wear-and-tear. Odell Beckham has had two injuries on the same knee, and if re-signed, will miss at least the first half of the season.
As for the rookies, they did not inspire a lot of confidence. Bennett Skowronek did well on special teams, but struggled when injuries pressed him into offensive service. Tutu Atwell never looked comfortable in his transition to the pro game, had a season-ending injury, and might not have the overall physical makeup to withstand the rigors of being both a full-time kick returner and offensive contributor. JJ Koski and Landen Akers, while fast, are mostly camp bodies. Warren Jackson is in the same boat, although he may have a developmental upside.
Of course, they will all improve with a year of experience under their belts, but receivers in Sean McVay’s offense must be playmakers, not serviceable options.
Currently LA has eight wide receivers under contract for 2022
- Cooper Kupp- 6’ 2” 208 lbs.
At the top of his game. Not only a clutch stick-mover, he uses a combination of strength and deft moves to be a big play machine. He led the NFL in both receiving first downs and plays over 25 yards. Only injuries can stop him. Signed through 2023 with voidable years in ‘24 and ‘25.
- Robert Woods- 6’ 195 lbs.
Do-it-all player, who is a willing blocker and the Rams best runner around the edge. Since coming back home to LA, he's racked up over 5000 receiving and rushing yards. His return is a necessary event in the Rams defense of the Super Bowl. Signed through 2025.
“It’s going really well,” Woods told Pro Football Network at the Super Bowl. “Initially, you hear ACL injury and you think it’s over. Nah. Being able to recover from the surgery and be able to have a great rehab and team to get me back right, I’m progressing really well. My first day back jogging was today. Milestones are really big.”
- Van Jefferson- 6’ 1” 200 lbs.
59 catches for 904 yards, 6 TD’s, and 16.0 YPC. Not a bad stat line for a player considered WR#3. Sure, he had some high-profile drops and that needs tightening up, but overall he had a solid sophomore season. Signed through 2023.
- Tutu Atwell- 5’ 9” 165 lbs.
A lightening rod in both his potential and his standing with Rams fans. After an electric college career, Atwell had a rough go as a rookie. Hopefully, he is attacking his rehab and a strength and conditiong program. He’ll need speed AND strength in the NFL. signed through 2024.
- Bennett Skowronek- 6’ 3” 224 lbs.
Love his lunch pail mentality, doing all the thankless jobs that help a team win. But he may have reached his ceiling as a special teamer. Signed through 2024.
- JJ Koski- 6’ 1” 195 lbs.
Had his big shot to nail down the return man role and wasn’t ready for the big stage. He moved tentatively and was shaky in ball protection. At his level of the roster, it might be a long time before he gets another chance. Reserve/Futures contract.
- Landen Akers- 6’ 191 lbs.
Only active in two games. He must be a gamer, because he wasn’t a regular starter in college, he was a special teams ace. Reserve/Futures contract.
- Warren Jackson- 6’ 6” 219 lbs.
Bounced back and forth between the Rams practice squad and the waiver list last season. Interesting prospect, his long wingspan and ability to high point passes make him a tough matchup. Reserve/Futures contract.
What skillset should prospective additions bring to the Rams?
First, the Rams prototype receiver is a skilled route runner, a willing blocker, and has the nerve to catch over the middle. Even with all their success, none are freakishly athletic. They are all 100%ers with high football IQ’s, highly competitive, and put team triumph over personal accomplishment.
That being said, adding some true speed or open-field running skills would round out the unit. Atwell does have breakaway speed and Jefferson has good long speed, but as a group, the Rams receivers all run 4.5+ in the forty.
It would be interesting to acquire a quick, darting player who is a burst runner and cuts at speed. A wide receiver who could provide value as a returner while developing into an offensive role.
Barring another injury-riddled season, any player joining the LA receiver room will, most likely, be battling for for the limited role WR5 or WR6 roles. Kupp, Woods, and Jefferson are locked in and a stellar trio. While It’s too early to fairly grade Atwell, his draft position guarantees a long look. One thing Rams fans can expect from Les Snead and the draft is the unexpected.