The Los Angeles Rams released their initial depth chart of the 2023 season on Tuesday. While it’s important not to overreact, there are still some things that can be taken away from the depth chart. It’s the first glance of how the team views certain players and the pecking order of how they see certain positions. Again, it’s still early and the coaching staff will be watching the preseason games and practices during the week closely. With that’s said, let’s take a look at what the depth chart told us about some of the offseason position battles.
1. Rams didn’t provide a lot of information.
As the header suggests, the Rams didn’t provide a lot of information when it comes to who’s leading the training camp position battles. At left tackle, they listed Joe Noteboom OR Alaric Jackson as the starter. Coleman Shelton OR Brian Allen are starting at center. The backup quarterback behind Matthew Stafford is listed as Stetson Bennett OR Brett Rypien. We’ll hopefully get more clarity in future depth charts.
2. Tremayne Anchrum and Steve Avila starting at the guard spots
Avila shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. However, Anchrum starting at right guard may come as a mild surprise to some. It will be interesting to see if that changes depending on what happens at center. If Brian Allen wins the starting center role, will the Rams move Shelton to right guard or keep Anchrum there because he’s been starting at that spot throughout training camp? As of right now, these are two new faces currently starting along the offensive line.
3. TuTu Atwell is listed as a starting wide receiver
Despite the Rams not giving up a lot of information on the initial depth chart, Atwell was listed as one of the three starting wide receivers. Atwell is even listed ahead of Ben Skowronek who played a lot of snaps for the Rams last season. This should speak to Atwell’s development this offseason. As reported, Atwell has continued to work in multiple wide receiver spots, rather than focusing in on one role. Additionally, he’s been working on his blocking. If Atwell is the third wide receiver, he’s earned it.
4. Byron Young and Michael Hoecht lead the way at EDGE
This should come as expected given that the Rams spent a third-round pick on Young and Hoecht began working at edge towards the end of last season. Still, this is a position that we haven’t heard a lot about throughout training camp. While Young is listed as a starter right now, that could change depending on how players perform in the preseason games. The preseason will be an important period for this group. Behind Young and Hoecht are Nick Hampton and Daniel Hardy.
5. John Johnson III Backing Up Russ Yeast?
I would expect this to change as the Johnson works his way into the safety group over the next few weeks. Johnson listed behind Yeast only tells me that the Rams are making him “earn” that starting role. It should be expected for Johnson to eventually be the starter across from Jordan Fuller. Listing him behind Yeast is still interesting nonetheless.
6. Only Three Rookies Projected to Start
With such a young roster, the Rams will be expecting a lot of their young players to contribute. It’s not a huge surprise that the Rams don’t have many rookies listed as starters. That seems to be the norm on the initial depth chart. Still, the only rookies listed as definitive starters are Avila and Young. Kobie Turner is currently listed as a joint starter with Bobby Brown. That should be an encouraging sign for his development. Meanwhile, Tre Tomlinson is listed behind Derion Kendrick, and Puka Nacua is behind Atwell. With a 14 player rookie class, it will be interesting to see how many eventually contribute in 2023.
7. Christian Rozeboom to start next to Ernest Jones?
The backup linebacker position this offseason has been a battle between Christian Rozeboom and Jake Hummel. As it stands, it appears Rozeboom may have the upper hands. Instead of being listed as a joint-starter, Rozeboom is the sole starter next to Jones with Hummel behind him. Undrafted free agent, Jaiden Woodbey is the backup behind Jones. The preseason will be big for the linebacker position, especially at the end of the depth chart where players like Kelechi Anyalebechi and Ryan Smenda Jr. will be competing for roster spots.
8. Logan Bruss is officially listed as a right tackle
On the opening depth chart last season, Bruss was listed as the backup to Coleman Shelton at right guard. There was a lot of discussion this week about Bruss moving to tackle and that’s where he is listed on the depth chart. It will be Bruss backing up Rob Havenstein with Warren McClendon Jr. behind him. We will likely see a lot of Bruss at right tackle during the preseason, especially if Havenstein doesn’t play. It will be interesting to see how this move plays out.
9. Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams will return on special teams
There has been a lot of discussion as to who will return punts and kicks for the Rams this season. It was thought that Atwell may be in position to return punts as the Rams have tried him in that role in the past. Instead, it will be Nacua who doesn’t have return experience. Nacua has seemingly grasped everything that the Rams have thrown at him. Is this something he can handle as well or will the Rams have to go back to Kupp at some point? Williams started the season returning kicks as a rookie alongside Brandon Powell before he got injured in Week 1.
10. Has Earnest Brown IV taken a step forward?
Earnest Brown IV was cut as a rookie and then listed as a third-string defensive lineman on the initial depth chart last season. Up to this point, he has seemed to be a wasted pick in the draft. On the initial depth chart, the rams have him listed as a joint starter with Marquise Copeland and ahead of Jonah Williams. This could be a good sign for Brown, but the preseason will still be big for him.