The midseason point is a great time to reset and reflect on where the Los Angeles Rams are at and which direction they are currently headed. Following two-straight losses and falling to 3-5, it’s only natural for questions to start rising within the fanbase on the direction of the franchise. You guys had questions, I have answers, let’s hit this midseason mailbag. If you want to drop questions in the comments below, I can answer some there as well.
Let’s say the Rams draft somewhere in the 10-18 range...What are some target players/positions. What do you think the Rams will look to do in free agency? - @soulreaper313
In the first-round of the draft, the Rams will most definitely be looking at the left tackle position. The 10-18 range is going to be out of range of Olu Fashanu or Joe Alt. However, JC Latham will be an option as well as Amarius Mims. That range also puts the Rams out of range for Caleb Williams or Drake Maye. JJ McCarthy would be the highest rate quarterback available. There is a lot of discussion on whether or not Michael Penix Jr, Quinn Ewers, etc. are first-round picks. The Rams may look at a cornerback here or even an edge rusher like Jared Verse or Laiatu Latu.
As far as what the Rams will look to do in free agency, the answer is pretty clear. They have to spend on the defensive side of the ball. This season, the Rams have $51.8M in cash spending on defense which ranks 32nd in the NFL. For comparison’s sake, the San Francisco 49ers have $147.9M in cash spending on defense. The edge free agency class is a good one and it would not be surprising if they made a run at a Brian Burns, Josh Allen, or Joshua Uche in the case that one of them hit the market.
What’s the plan for center long term? What’s your thoughts on Shelton. And do you think we try to replace him? - @jerseyram and @ramsDior
The Rams simply haven’t invested in the center position. While they extended Brian Allen, it was more about keeping someone who they were familiar with than it was about paying a player at the position. At the end of the day, Allen is still just the 14th highest-paid center.
There’s no doubt that the Rams need Coleman Shelton to play better. At the same time, the Rams won with Allen at center and showed that they can get by with average at the position. If the Rams can fix their issues at left tackle, it should resolve 99 percent of their offensive line issues. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Rams drafted one on day three, but they could very well continue to roll with Shelton in 2024.
What in your eyes would make 2023 a “successful” season? Playoffs? Finishing with a top 10 draft pick but finding some talent for the future in the ‘23 draft? - @Carl_noWinslow
This is a great question and one where the answer I don’t believe is necessarily results-based. The Rams came into the season hitting the reset button and letting whatever happens, happen. If they snuck into the playoffs as the seventh seed in the NFC, great. However, if they ended up with a top-10 pick, also great. The worst spot for them to end up would be in the middle where they don’t have a top-10 pick, but also miss out on postseason play.
At the end of the day, success for the 2023 season was always been about finding young players that they can start to build around and rely on over the next two years. In that sense, the 2023 season has already been successful. They drafted players like Steve Avila, Byron Young, Kobie Turner, and Puka Nacua. Trading for Kevin Dotson also fits this bill. These are all players that are likely going to be part of the next phase of Project 2025. The fact that the Rams did find players in year one, a season in which they didn’t have cap space or a first-round pick is a success and puts them a little bit ahead of schedule.
Do you see a scenario where Raheem Morris gets a head coaching job anywhere and then potentially bring back Brandon Staley? -@joshdaltn
Raheem Morris is going to continue to get looked at for head coaching jobs. He’s very respected around the league and many know and understand that his time is coming for a second chance. Still, coaches on successful teams tend to get hired. For Morris to land a head coaching job, the Rams need to be successful. For the most part, Morris has done a respectable job given the hand that he’s been dealt this season. However, the defense needs to perform as it did in Weeks 1-6 and the first three quarters of Week 7 than what we’ve seen in the last five quarters.
As far as Brandon Staley returning, this is a pipe dream that Rams fans are better off letting go of right now. It’s simply not going to happen. Despite having more talent, the Chargers defense actually ranks worse than the Rams in defense EPA and defensive success rate. If Morris gets a head coaching job, expect the Rams to replace him with an in-house option such as Aubrey Pleasant. If the Rams go outside the building, Jim Leonhard from the college ranks is a name to keep an eye on. McVay likes young rising coaches, and Christian Parker in Denver is a name that fits that bill.
Right now, if I had to guess, Morris will be back in 2024 and depending on how the Rams defense performs, gets hired in the next coaching cycle.