It’s time to play “Before” and “With” with the top-20 list for the 2022 Los Angeles Rams, except I’m going to need to dig back for some players who are no longer on the roster to do this exercise. For example:
Robert Woods before Sean McVay: 3.6 catches/game, 43 yards/game, 59% catch rate
Robert Woods with Sean McVay: 5.4 catches/game, 68 yards/game, 66.5% catch rate
There’s also the matter of a player having a career-season.
Brandin Cooks previous career-highs: 1,173 yards, 66.7% catch rate, 10 Y/Target
Brandin Cooks’ first year with McVay: 1,204 yards, 68.4% catch rate, 10.3 Y/Target
Or scoring touchdowns at a new clip.
Sammy Watkins with McVay: 8 touchdowns in 15 games
Sammy Watkins since McVay: 9 touchdowns in 47 games
Or proving that situation and opportunities are everything.
Josh Reynolds in 2020 with McVay: 52 catches, 81 targets, 618 yards
Josh Reynolds in 2021 without McVay: 29 catches, 49 targets, 396 yards (mostly with the same QB as he had the previous four years)
And if you’re lucky, then you’re Cooper Kupp and you find out that playing for Sean McVay and catching passes from Matthew Stafford will only supercharge you from being a great receiver into being perceived as arguably the best receiver.
Even in the case of Odell Beckham Jr., playing a half season of football with the Rams and recently proclaiming that he was significantly injured the entire time, we saw a receiver catch seven touchdowns for the Rams after he had only scored seven touchdowns in his last 2.5 seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
Now having traded Woods to the Titans and OBJ still a free agent, there is no competition for who will be Stafford’s number two target next season after Kupp.
His name is Allen Robinson, he’s been paid like a number one receiver (several times), and he’s entering the 2022 season with more advantages than he’s ever had his the previous eight years of his career. Given that L.A. also doesn’t have another receiver on the roster anything like him, and we know how important it was for Stafford and McVay to beat teams in the fourth quarter through the passing game last season/postseason, there’s no question that Robinson is one of the most pivotal components to a championship repeat.
#7 - WR Allen Robinson II
As a health receiver in 2015, 2016 (Jaguars), 2019, and 2020 (Bears), Allen Robinson has been consistent. He had exactly 151 targets in three of those seasons, and 154 in the other.
Robinson had 1,147 yards and 1,250 yards with Chicago in 2019 and 2020, mostly working with Mitchell Trubisky, but sometimes playing with Nick Foles.
A second round pick out of Penn State in 2014, Robinson broke out for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns with the Jaguars in 2015 as the top target for Blake Bortles. He responded with a disappointing season by only gaining 883 yards over 16 games in 2016, seeing his yards per catch and yards per target drop dramatically because as we all know, Bortles is not the ideal person to be throwing passes.
Robinson’s 5.8 yards per target in 2016 ranked 125th overall, tied with Jeremy Kerley and Richard Rodgers.
As Chicago’s number one receiver in 2021, Robinson was tasked with not only having to support Andy Dalton at the start of the season (a fate worse than Bortles), but also needing to be a driving force towards any success for rookie Justin Fields. The result was that head coach Matt Nagy was fired, the Bears had arguably the worst offense in the NFL, and Robinson only eclipsed 50 yards in three games and his season-best was 68.
Robinson also missed five games, but what would that matter when the team is so bad that there’s nothing a wide receiver could do to help?
That’s not Robinson’s situation in L.A. this year.
Now playing alongside Cooper Kupp and catching passes from Stafford in a McVay offense, Robinson should be able to thrive as a 1,000-yard receiver once again. That should be the floor for a healthy Allen Robinson, while the ceiling is anyone’s guess because he’s never had it this good.
The biggest concern facing the team as a whole at the receiver position is the lack of depth after Kupp and Robinson, which highlights how important both of those players are to the team.
Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek, and Brandon Powell are at-best unproven, and Van Jefferson’s ability to be a reliable number two was not even tested by McVay last season. I just don’t expect that the Rams will be nearly as comfortable with Jefferson, Atwell, or Skowronek as a starting wideout as he is with Robinson, which is why the Rams gave him a three-year, $48 million contract.
We know what Robinson has been before McVay and that’s already very good. It’s better than what Woods, Watkins, and even Cooks were prior to joining the Rams. We don’t know what Robinson will be with McVay, but the possibilities should have fans excited to see this debut in Week 1 against the Bills.
First one out - CB Robert Rochell
#20 - QB John Wolford
#19 - CB Troy Hill
#18 - C Brian Allen
#17 - ILB Ernest Jones
#16 - WR Van Jefferson
#15 - S Jordan Fuller
#14 - LG David Edwards
#13 - RB Cam Akers
#12 - DT Greg Gaines
#11 - RT Rob Havenstein
#10 - DL A’Shawn Robinson
#9 - TE Tyler Higbee
#8 - ILB Bobby Wagner
Which of these players are most important to the 2022 LA Rams?
This poll is closed
WR Allen Robinson
RB Cam Akers
Let’s now try another poll with more options than that, based on who you just picked in the Robinson or Akers poll:
Which player is most important to the 2022 Rams?
This poll is closed
WR Allen Robinson
RB Cam Akers
ILB Bobby Wagner
TE Tyler Higbee
DL A’Shawn Robinson