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PFF ranks Rams’ receiving corps middle of the pack heading into 2023

Cooper Kupp is the glue that keeps that position afloat

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With all the uncertainty surrounding the Los Angeles Rams this offseason, is it okay to feel just a teeny bit optimistic about their upcoming campaign? There’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of cautious optimism. Most analysts across the NFL already have counted out LA in 2023. Perhaps floating under the radar will be the best thing to happen to this team.

The Rams happened to receive a somewhat positive ranking of their receiving corps courtesy of Pro Football Focus. PFF’s Trevor Sikkema ranked LA 14th, between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens. His sole reason for placing the team where they were is all due to the presence of Cooper Kupp.

“It was pretty tough to place the Rams on this list. If you replace Cooper Kupp with even an above-average wide receiver, this is probably a bottom-five group in the league. But like the Justin Jefferson effect with Minnesota, Kupp is one year removed from one of the most insanely productive seasons we’ve seen, earning a 93.1 receiving grade with over 2,400 receiving yards on their Super Bowl run.

Van Jefferson is a solid player, and Tyler Higbee has been an underrated tight end with over 500 yards in each of his last four seasons.

Kupp does the heavy lifting here, but with him healthy, it’s hard to put this group much lower.” per Trevor Sikkema of Pro Football Focus

When Kupp went down for the final eight games of 2022, LA’s receiving corps was badly exposed. Despite playing only nine games, Kupp still led the team in most receiving categories. His injury exposed a clear weakness on the team and one that hadn’t seemed to improve much from the end of last season.

Much of the room is intact, save for the addition of veterans like Tyler Johnson and Demarcus Robinson and subtraction of Allen Robinson. The reason one should be optimistic about this unit is due to all the youth LA has at their disposal. Polarizing Tutu Atwell, a playmaker fans absolutely love to hate, has to continue building off a promising year. Anything to shut up the fans who won’t quit crying about him being drafted over Creed Humphrey.

Might as well become a Forty Whiners with that attitude. Anyways, Atwell has flashed the ability to become a dynamic piece within Sean McVay’s offense. He needs to be on the field more. Do you hear me now Sean? Luckily, McVay has been hyping him up and it’s anyone’s guess as to whether this translates into the regular season.

Then the Rams have Van Jefferson, who will see his number called on more following the offseason trade of Robinson to the Steelers. Jefferson had a quiet breakout season during LA’s Super Bowl run and had a forgettable encore after starting last season on Injured Reserve. Assuming VJ can bounce back and move past the injuries that held him back in ‘22, he’ll be a nice compliment alongside Kupp.

Related: Can Van Jefferson be the WR2 next to Cooper Kupp?

Tyler Higbee is one of the more underrated tight ends in the league. Higbee put together a solid campaign despite all the offensive turmoil and inconsistent QB play around him. Rookie Puka Nacua out of BYU has been making quite the impression on LA’s coaching staff so far. There are high hopes for the fifth-rounder as he aims to compete for a role in a crowded receiving room. Expectations for the rookie might be a little exaggerated for now. Even perfection takes time to grow after all. He needs to find his footing in the pros first before fitting the Robert Woods role everyone expects him to fill.

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered between now and preseason. Any of the players behind Kupp can breakout this season and that’s the hope. Like I said earlier, it’s okay to be slightly optimistic about the Rams in 2023. They’re converting me to a “glass half full” type of person with each passing day. Never thought I’d live to see the day.