With a roster as loaded as LA’s from top to bottom, there’s no glaring holes or areas of weakness. Some position groups are stronger than others, and over the course of a 17-game season depth will be challenged even in areas that seem to be settled.
Which position groups on the 2022 Rams’ roster are Elite, Good, or Questionable?
The dependable Cooper Kupp had a historical 2021 season in terms of both clutch moments and statistical output - and the Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl LVI MVP could be just as great in his second season with quarterback Matthew Stafford.
In 2022 Kupp will be paired with Allen Robinson, who the Rams signed in free agency from the Chicago Bears. Robinson’s career has been limited due to the middling quarterbacks he’s played with both in Chicago and with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he’s managed to be a productive player year in and year out in spite of his supporting cast.
The Rams are adding Allen Robinson to the offense. What a get for the McVay and QB1 Stafford! One of the most underrated receivers in the league. Stafford loves receivers who can make contested catches and go up and get 50/50 balls, this is Robinsons game! pic.twitter.com/LAhgJumpNK— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) March 17, 2022
If defenses focus too much attention on Kupp, then Robinson will flourish - and we’ve seen Kupp be effective even when the defense is selling out to stop him.
Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, Jacob Harris, and Ben Skowronek are good depth pieces and each have very different skillsets. These young pass catchers will play different roles within the LA offense, and the sum of their abilities may amount to more than the individual parts. Each will have their opportunities - but they have to make the most of them when presented.
think Kyle Fuller felt a little uncomfortable with Tutu Atwell's speed up top? pic.twitter.com/sEzjOl2PEH— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) August 31, 2021
Any unit that features a Hall of Fame talent like Aaron Donald is going to be formidable - and this year he’s joined by two players that took significant steps forward last season: Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson.
Gaines has always been solid against the run, but he flashed athleticism and the ability to affect the passing game in 2021. While relegated to a depth role for the start of his career, he made the most of his increased playing time when Sebastian Joseph-Day was out with injury.
Robinson played at a high level over the course of the post-season after a fairly quiet start to his career in Los Angeles. The Rams signed the veteran lineman in free agency after he wasn’t used properly by Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions, but he seems to be hitting his stride heading into 2022.
You want to talk about an unsung hero of this entire playoff run? How about A’Shawn Robinson’ dominance, week after week? pic.twitter.com/zujhksVYDJ— SeattleRams (@seattlerams_nfl) February 14, 2022
LA also has several young up-and-comers waiting in the wings should their number be called this season: Michael Hoecht has been a solid run defender the last two years; Bobby Brown and Earnest Brown were drafted in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively, a year ago and were redshirted as rookies. Could one of these individuals make a leap this season similar to Gaines and Robinson a year ago?
Jalen Ramsey and Jordan Fuller are true star defenders in the Los Angeles secondary - and they are surrounded by immense depth.
Nick Scott, Taylor Rapp, and Troy Hill have demonstrated that they can be reliable contributors on a Super Bowl-contending roster, though they might not be high level performers on an individual level.
David Long, Jr., Robert Rochell, and Terrell Burgess are premium draft investments (for the Rams) that could have their best football in front of them - and Long played well for LA down the playoff stretch in 2022.
And then there’s the newcomers: Quentin Lake (6th round) and Russ Yeast (7th) join a deep safety room; and Decobie Durant (4th) and Derion Kendrick (6th) hope to carve out a role among the corner group.
The Rams seem to be simultaneously plugging holes in the secondary as well as rebuilding the group for the future, though to some extent it seems they are throwing late-round fliers at the wall to see what sticks. This is a deep position group that should have flexibility and options to solve whatever problems are thrown at them.
Regular season Matthew Stafford belongs squarely in the “good” category, as his play through the first 17 games resembled the borderline top-10 play that he had demonstrated over the course of his career with the Detroit Lions.
But his play reached a new level during the team’s playoff stretch - and aside from Josh Allen, Stafford may have been the best signal caller in the tournament. If playoff Matthew Stafford, who takes calculated risks to push the ball downfield, hangs around for the regular season in 2022, Stafford belongs in the “elite” category and will be at the center of MVP talks late in the year.
The Rams’ backups are a cause for concern, and the team could regret a lack of investment to upgrade over John Wolford and Bryce Perkins.
I think about this Matthew Stafford throw a lot pic.twitter.com/eAYqYE8hNO— Blake Garman (@FrostedBlakes34) July 10, 2022
Ernest Jones showed flashes of promise during his rookie season, and he’s joined by veteran Bobby Wagner in his second year. Jones has a high ceiling and there’s room for him to be as good as he wants to be. Wagner is savvy and still has plenty to offer in the middle of the defense - together these players should form a dependable duo at inside linebacker.
But how helpful is it to have two good MLB’s in 2022?
In order to keep both Jones and Wagner on the field, does that mean that a corner, safety, or pass rusher have to come off? In an era of historical passing production, the Rams may find themselves on the difficult end of a numbers game.
Leonard Floyd has been a dependable presence during his first two seasons with the Rams, posting sack totals of 10.5 (2020) and 9.5 (2021).
LA figures to complement Floyd with a timeshare of Justin Hollins, Terrell Lewis, and Chris Garrett on the opposite side of the defense. Could a year of development be enough for this group to take a step forward, or will the team be scouring the trade market for an immediate upgrade as they did a season ago with Von Miller?
Would the Rams be able to generate much pass rush if Floyd is injured and misses time, allowing defenses to focus squarely on Aaron Donald?
The return of Cam Akers from injury for the playoffs was a better story than reality - though he did perform well in the wildcard round versus the Arizona Cardinals. Is Akers in store for his first full season as a workhorse back, or will the young back be unable to return to form after his significant injury last offseason?
Fourth-year back Darrell Henderson is better in small doses, as he’s a fine complementary and receiving threat. But Henderson struggles when he’s the primary focus of the running attack, and that’s a big reason why the Rams need Akers to produce at his 2020 levels.
There’s not much behind Akers and Henderson, which would be concerning if either misses much time with injury. Kyren Williams likely won’t amount to much more than a third-down back as a rookie, and he’s already rehabbing through a broken foot ahead of training camp. Fan-favorite Jake Funk could earn a bigger role in 2022, though he made a bigger impact on special teams in 2021 than he did in his limited offensive opportunities.
Cam Akers this recovery from the achilles injury is outrageous pic.twitter.com/4ikLnDKjno— Big Ten Fan (@Blutman27) January 18, 2022