As the Los Angeles Rams continue to wind through free agency, areas of concern still loom large. Questions at wide receiver, another tight end, and a center still have observers wondering as options seem to narrow. Some of these questions may be answered during the NFL Draft next month in Philadelphia.
However they get there, the moves the team has made thus far can be labeled as only positive. But the type that yield game dividends still have to be found, because as the roster is currently constructed, the needle likely hasn’t moved much.
Most will concede that the Rams offense will be light years better than what fans watched in 2016. The virtue of a full offseason with an offensive minded head coach like Sean McVay is significant progress in and of itself. Second year quarterback Jared Goff is working with QB whisperer Tom House and will have the benefit of offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Greg Olson.
All upgrades from the previous regime.
But assumptions run far and wide in the offseason as projections and names at the top and bottom of the depth chart provide only intangibles.
Will Andrew Whitworth being plugged in at left tackle solve their Greg Robinson issue, who now slides to the right side of the line? Assuming that “plug and play” works as intended, who are the weapons that Goff will throw to in 2017 that is a significant step up from last season? Those “big names” are off the board, leaving remnants from free agency and lower end options come the latter part of next month’s draft.
In the center of the discussion is what can a new offensive approach do with a running back like Todd Gurley. The player heading into 2016 with the most hype was the then second year back from Georgia.
The former Offensive Rookie of the Year was a mere shell of himself. Gurley went from 1,106 yards on 229 carries in 2015 to 885 yards on 278 carries in 2016. The lowest total ever recorded for someone with at least 275 rushing attempts in a single season.
2017 NFL Draft: Best undrafted players in last quarter century
This Week in NFL History: Relive some of the NFL’s most iconic from March 19th – 25th
2017 Free Agency:: Giants sign Jason Pierre-Paul to four-year $62 million deal
A Tale Of Two NFL Cities: The gap between New England and Los Angeles isn’t just measured in miles
Rams Notebook: The Hotel California takes a look at last week in L.A.
Gurley might not even be Goff’s biggest asset out of the backfield this coming season. That assignment may well go to former Cowboy Lance Dunbar who WILL be a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. That wasn’t a quality Gurley seemed to excel at. But we won’t likely know that until we are all knee deep in this coming Rams season.
As for receivers, will Robert Woods emerge as the caliber of pass catcher that can keep the chains moving on third and long to sustain a drive? Most intriguing, will the game plan have a play actually designed to have a WR catch a ball past the first down marker? A particular point of contention in many a Rams game last season.
That’s also a question that will be asked of incumbent number one at TE Tyler Higbee.
To be determined.
While we won’t know how all the intangibles play out for a lot of months still, some things are what they are in Los Angeles.
A legitimate number #1 receiver who is a big target and bigger threat.
A legitimate backup at tight end should Higbee flame out in year two.
And last but not least, a center to snap the ball to Jared Goff.
All reasonable concerns and questions heading into 2017.
And like I said: to be determined.