When the Los Angeles Rams traded for Matthew Stafford in early 2021, they took him out of the Detroit Lions lineup and surrounded him with one of the top supporting casts in the NFL.
The Rams offensive line featured Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein at tackle, David Edwards and Austin Corbett at tackle, and eventually promoted Brian Allen to starting center; Cooper Kupp headlined a receivers unit that also had Robert Woods, DeSean Jackson, Van Jefferson, and would eventually sign Odell Beckham Jr. midseason; Tyler Higbee was starting at tight end, as he is today; Sony Michel would eventually replace Cam Akers, who would eventually replace Michel by the playoffs and Darrell Henderson again served as a complementary back.
Two years later, the Lions actually feature one of the most exciting supporting casts in the NFL around Jared Goff. L.A.’s offense is a mystery, though it could still feature some very good players, including Stafford, Kupp, and Akers.
Many are calling Stafford the best or second-best QB in the NFC, but how is his supporting cast right now?
RB - Cam Akers, Kyren Williams, Ronnie Rivers
WR - Cooper Kupp, Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek
WR - Allen Robinson*, Van Jefferson, Lance McCutcheon, Austin Trammell
TE - Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins, Hunter Long
Starting OL - Joe Noteboom, Tremayne Anchrum, Brian Allen, Logan Bruss, Rob Havenstein
OL Depth - A.J. Jackson, Coleman Shelton, A.J. Arcurui, Zach Thomas
Can the Rams afford to draft a quarterback, receiver, running back, tight end, or offensive linemen with needing to replace so many players on defense?
Akers has yet to guarantee himself as the starting running back. Where would he rank among these NFC running backs?
Cowboys - Tony Pollards
49ers - Christian McCaffrey
Seahawks - Ken Walker III
Giants - Saquon Barkley
Saints - Alvin Kamara
Panthers - Miles Sanders
Eagles - Rashaad Penny, Kenneth Gainwell
Bears - D’Onta Foreman
Lions - David Montgomery, D’Andre Swift
Packers - Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon
Falcons - Tyler Allgeier, Cordarrelle Patterson
Washington - Brian Robinson, Antonio Gibson
Bucs - Rachaad White, Chase Edmonds
Cardinals - James Conner
As far as receivers, tight ends, and offensive lines, we know that Cooper Kupp stands near the top at his position. L.A. has work to do to find a number two and to keep searching for that heir apparent to Higbee at tight end. Certainly the offensive line has been a point of contention for Rams fans for many years.
Stafford’s supporting cast needs work, likely starting with the offensive line. The receivers seem capable, but as far as some of the NFC’s duos and trios (DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown/CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks/Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson/Chris Olave, Michael Thomas/Mike Evans, Chris Godwin/DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett/Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel), another weapon to emerge would be helpful.
It should start with the line. For now, the Rams may sit somewhere in the 11-16 range for supporting cast because they lack a clear number one anywhere on the offensive line, a number two receiver, a running back upgrade (unless Akers continues where he left off), and a more reliable tight end.