Updated so-early-it’s-stupid lineup projections: St. Louis Rams offense

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A month has passed since the premiere edition of our so-early-it’s-stupid projections for the Rams’ 2014 starting lineup, and since then we’ve made a few changes to the offensive shape. This month, we’ve been able to whittle the conjecture from a shapeless, pre-free agency blob of guesses into a slightly more defined, albeit far-from-completed picture of who will be taking the field in Week 1. With that said, here’s how I believe the offense will look in early September if I had to guess today:

2014StartersGraphic_Offense_MARCH
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As you’ll notice, there are a handful of changes from our initial prediction, which can be found here.

Quarterback – Sam Bradford

Since our last edition, Bradfrod has been publicly endorsed by both head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead as the team’s starting quarterback in 2014. Whether he retains his position or not past next season is irrelevant, because he WILL be under center Week 1 barring any setbacks in his recovery.

Running Back – Zac Stacy

There are murmurs that the Rams may select a change-of-pace back in May’s draft to complement the hard-nosed style that Stacy employs. However, it’d be a shock to see any incoming draftee impressing enough in training camp to overtake Stacy in the backfield after his impressive rookie campaign.

Wide Receivers – Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey

One of the bigger changes in our offensive predictions from last month is the omission of Sammy Watkins from the group of starters. I am as big a Watkins fan as any and would love to see him in blue and gold, but at this point, I’m giving the Rams defensive end Jadeveon Clowney at second overall. Just seems to me that the Watkins talk has quieted and the Rams will miss out on the draft’s consensus best receiver. Also, Austin Pettis has been dropped from the lineup due to the fact that he seems a popular pick for release should the Rams have to make amendments. In step Givens, who will be on the hot seat in his third season, and Bailey, the growing fan favorite, to join Austin and fill those respective holes.

Offensive Tackles – Jake Long and Joe Barksdale

This group doesn’t change from last month. I believe Barksdale will get the nod in Week 1, but I think the Rams pick up a tackle at 13 in Michigan’s Taylor Lewan. Lewan could step in at guard or right tackle until he’s ready to take over for Long on the left, but I think Barksdale earns the right to start Week 1 at least. However, Lewan will be in the lineup sooner rather than later.

Offensive Guards – Gabe Jackson and Rodger Saffold

In the month since our initial projections, Saffold went through one of the stranger free agent journeys in recent memory. After being offered a ludicrous $8.5 million per year by the Raiders, the higher-ups in Oakland decided to fail his physical, reject the contract, and send him back to the welcoming arms in St. Louis. Saffold’s status at right guard is assured now, and he’ll be joined by Mississippi’s Gabe Jackson whom the team selected in round two of the draft. Should the Rams go safety or wide receiver in round two, they could still likely land our initial projection for 2014 starting left guard – Baylor’s Cyril Richardson – in round three.

Center – Scott Wells

I had Tim Barnes here last month, but at this point I believe the Rams will bring back Wells to anchor the offensive line in 2014. The team lost guards Chris Williams and Shelley Smith to free agency and decided to part ways with Harvey Dahl, so it makes sense to me that they’ll attempt to bring back at least one more of their remaining free agents on the offensive line in Wells. Barnes showed flashes last season and Barrett Jones is in waiting, but bringing back Wells seems like a low-risk move.

TE – Jared Cook
No change here. Cook will look to improve upon a mild 2013 and justify his lofty price tag or risk heading the way of fellow Titan-turned-Ram Cortland Finnegan.

What do you think of our way-too-early projections? Agree? Disagree? March’s look at the 2014 defense is coming on Wednesday.

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