The Los Angeles Rams were not expected to be able to push teams like the Baltimore Ravens to the brink of defeat when Les Snead practically dismantled the roster in the offseason, save the franchise’s three big stars. Yet that’s what happened in Week 14 and the Rams had the Ravens right where they wanted them prior to losing in overtime, largely thanks to the performances of some savvy moves by Snead in the offseason. Now it’s time for Snead to keep filling out his roster with upgrades at certain positions and perhaps no weaknesses were more exposed in Baltimore than the ones at offensive tackle and safety.
The Rams need to find upgrades at those positions in free agency and the draft in 2024.
As was pointed out by comments in the Turf Show Times community like these ones, the Rams may need two new safeties and two new offensive tackles when the 2024 season begins.
What can the Rams do to find help at these positions like they were able to find with low-cost acquisitions in the past couple of offseasons?
For example, L.A. has shored up the right guard position by making a day three pick swap with the Steelers, so long as they are able to re-sign Kevin Dotson. The Rams got another great performance, except for a drop, by fifth round rookie Puka Nacua. L.A.s’ 2022 fifth round pick, Kyren Williams, rushed for 114 more yards to put on his resume. Another fifth round rookie, tight end Davis Allen, scored his first career touchdown and had 50 yards in place of an injured Tyler Higbee. The other guard position should be manned for a decade by Steve Avila, at this pace.
So where are the Rams perhaps at their weakest? We saw it against the Ravens as tackles A.J. Jackson and Joe Noteboom struggled to protect Matthew Stafford and company (Rob Havenstein was injured) and that is most likely the position that L.A. will want to target in the first round.
A first round tackle is much more likely than a first round safety and if Havenstein is able to return for another year, at least, then he can continue to man the right side. The Rams should cut Noteboom and save $5 million.
At safety, there should be plenty of free agent options available and this time the team shouldn’t wait until plucking John Johnson III from no man’s land after all the desirable options are scooped up. The Rams have Russ Yeast, Jordan Fuller, and Johnson right now. They should be aggressive to find a new starter or two, something that L.A. hasn’t been with Snead as the GM. The Rams tend to go cheap and conservative at safety with options like Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott, but Rapp was a second round pick.
It’s possible the L.A. Rams go tackle and then safety with their first two picks in 2024, but going with two tackles couldn’t hurt.
The Rams saw a close look at a team that has always had great safety play. The Ravens lost recent first round pick Kyle Hamilton midway through the game, but he and Geno Stone have been among the best duos in the NFL. The Ravens gave up 31 points to the Rams, the second-highest total they’ve allowed all year, but have otherwise been a shutdown defense for most of the season.
The Rams have out-done what most expected of their defense. Now it’s clear, they need to be better.