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Did the Rams get better over the 2023 offseason?

Let’s review this offseason moves and how they’ll impact the Rams on the field this season.

For the first time since head coach Sean McVay’s first season in 2017, it’s hard to know exactly what to think of this Rams team. There’s been a lot of roster turnover with star players leaving and new faces taking their place as the team looks ahead to 2023. That leaves a lot of unknown, but also some excitement.

Currently, the Rams win total sits at just 6.5 wins at DraftKings Sportsbook, which is only ahead of the Arizona Cardinals’ 4.5. Unlike the past two years, this is a team that doesn’t have the pressure of needing to win the Super Bowl or the pressure of being the defending champions. That could bring a new energy to some of the veteran players and the coaching staff.

Let’s take a look at what the Rams did this offseason.

Key departures

  • CB Jalen Ramsey
  • LB Bobby Wagner
  • EDGE Leonard Floyd
  • WR Allen Robinson
  • DL Greg Gaines
  • S Nick Scott
  • S Taylor Rapp
  • K Matt Gay

It became almost a joke how often the Rams social media team was having to put out a ‘goodbye’ post. It seemed as if they were putting out a new one every day early in the offseason.

While the Rams will miss Greg Gaines, Nick Scott, and Taylor Rapp, the big three losses are Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner, and Leonard Floyd. Despite stars like Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, and Cooper Kupp missing significant time last year in a bad season, Ramsey didn’t miss a game. Some will try to say that Ramsey lost a step, yet among cornerbacks who played at least 750 snaps in 2022, the former Rams cornerback ranked fifth in passes defended and was fourth in interceptions. The 2022 season may not have been Ramsey’s best, but he still managed a positive effect on the secondary.

Wagner and Floyd will be the other two who will be difficult to replace. The former and now current Seahawks linebacker helped lead the Rams to a top run defense for much of the season. Floyd is a player who will be missed on the edge as he accumulated 29 sacks over the last three years.

Players like Gaines and Scott departed in free agency. However, they may be easier to replace than the three players mentioned above. Still, the Rams defense will look much different next season.

Los Angeles started the offseason with a win total of 7.5, according to oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook. Following their offseason departures, that sits currently at 6.5.

Key additions

  • iOL Steve Avila
  • EDGE Byron Young
  • EDGE Nick Hampton
  • DL Kobie Turner
  • WR Puka Nacua
  • RB Zach Evans
  • CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson
  • TE Hunter Long
  • WR Demarcus Robinson
  • CB Akhello Witherspoon

With the moves that the Rams made this offseason, it was pretty clear that they had their eyes set on 2024. They opted not to bring players back who would have been on cheap contracts. They didn’t sign their first “big” free agent until June when they signed Robinson. Robinson isn’t even that big of a free agent.

With that said, they did end up signing cornerback Akhello Witherspoon. In 2021, Witherspoon’s coverage grade via PFF ranked eighth. His 48.5 percent receptions allowed and quarterback rating allowed when targeted both ranked third. He also ranked second in man coverage.

The notable additions fall on the draft picks that general manager Les Snead selected during the draft. Snead added 14 rookies in the draft. Combined with undrafted free agents, the Rams have over 40 rookies on the roster entering training camp.

With help needed on the offensive line, Snead began the draft by selecting TCU’s Steve Avila who will provide a big boost on the interior.

It’s hard to say what kind of effect Byron Young will have on the edge. As a mature rookie, he’s arguably the most experienced edge rusher that the Rams have on the roster along with Nick Hampton.

Kobie Turner and Puka Nacua, who’s currently listed as questionable for Week 1 with a lower-body injury, both drew some praise from fellow players and the coaching staff during OTAs. It will be crucial for them to carry that momentum into training camp and the preseason. As sleepers, Evans and Hodges-Tomlinson will be two players to keep an eye on during their rookie seasons.

It’s also worth noting that the Rams added some new pieces to the coaching staff. Mike LaFleur replaces Liam Coen as the offensive coordinator. Additionally, Ryan Wendall takes Kevin Carberry’s places as the offensive line coach and Chase Blackburn is the team’s new special teams coordinator.

How do the new additions fit?

The Rams didn’t make a lot of new additions, which makes it that much more important for the additions that they did make to have an impact. For them to do that, it’s all about finding the right fit to give these players the best chance to succeed.

Steve Avila

Avila can play any of the three interior spots on the offensive line. However, it’ll be important for the Rams to put him in position to succeed early so that he can gain some confidence. This means playing him in a position in which he’s comfortable.

While Avila may be the future center on the roster, it makes more sense to let him learn next to Brian Allen or Coleman Shelton during his rookie season. This leaves one of the two guard spots. Last season at TCU, Avila played 800 snaps at left guard and only allowed 10 pressures, not giving up a single sack in the process. Meanwhile, he only played 96 total snaps at right guard in four years. It makes sense to play Avila on the left side to get him comfortable.

Byron Young

A rookie edge rusher’s impact can be hit or miss in his first season. It will be interesting to see what Young does and how often he plays. In all likelihood, the Rams will try to do a good job of rotating their pass rushers. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Young dominate many of the snaps along with Michael Hoecht on the opposite side. Aaron Donald should help open things up, but there will be a lot of pressure for Young to succeed early.

Puka Nacua/Zach Evans/Kobie Turner

If there are three other rookies to watch this season, it’s the trio of Nacua, Evans, and Turner. Nacua and Turner both grabbed attention during OTAs and will be looking to continue that into training camp. Both players could see large roles as rookies as well. The Rams’ third wide receiver spot is wide open. If Nacua impresses the coaching staff, it’s entirely possible that he sees some playing time in a rotation with Ben Skowronek and TuTu Atwell.

Turner could see a role in the defensive line rotation. This is a player who could see small doses of playing time early in the season, but by the end of the year has fans excited for what he can do in Year 2.

Meanwhile, at running back, Evans is an intriguing name. Cam Akers finished the season strong, but early on he struggled and was placed on the trade block. The Rams traded up an entire round to make sure they got Evans. While he’s only a sixth-round pick, it’s fair to wonder how committed the Rams are to Akers and how long the leash is if he struggles.

Akhello Witherspoon/DeMarcus Robinson

Withspoon will likely be an immediate starter on the outside. The Rams don’t have a lot of experience at the cornerback position and Witherspoon brings that. He should have a positive effect on young players like Cobie Durant, Derion Kendrick, and Robert Rochell.

It’s hard to know where exactly Robinson’s role will be in the wide receiver room. He’s someone that brings experience as depth while Nacua and others get up to speed. Robinson also has some experience as a returner which the Rams need on special teams.

Did the Rams get better this offseason?

It’s hard to say that the Rams overall got better. As mentioned, they started the offseason back in March with a win total of 7.5. That has since dropped to 6.5.

The Rams got better in areas, specifically on the interior of the offensive line. Avila should provide a huge boost and the Rams invested a lot in him with the 36th overall pick. The Avila selection should allow the Rams to have some depth on the offensive line which they didn't have last year once injuries happened.

While the Rams lost Allen Robinson, adding players like Nacua and Demarcus Robinson should give them some depth at wide receiver that they didn’t have last year. The same can be said about tight end, where the Rams added Hunter Long in the Ramsey trade. This should allow Sean McVay to get more versatile with his personnel packages.

Outside of that, it’s hard to say the Rams got better at any other position. When it comes to wide receiver and tight end, the Rams didn’t even necessarily get better at the top of the roster, but rather just added depth.

With the moves that the Rams made this offseason, some have been speculating that they are tanking. The Caleb Williams connection to LA has only fed that speculation. Coming off of a 5-12 season and releasing many of their stars, it’s very possible that the Rams do worse and end up with the top pick. It’s also possible that the rookies outperform their projected output and McVay coaches this Rams team to a 7-10 or 8-9 type of season.