2017 will likely have Los Angeles fans approaching the Rams with cautious optimism. Given 2016, it’s hard to find fault with such a notion. But as Sean McVay prepares for his first season, he’ll find himself reliant on three players who won’t have the luxury of sliding into the dreaded sophomore slump. For these three, 2017 become a long look at their future under the glaring lights of Hollywood.
Cooper was highly productive his last two seasons at South Carolina before being drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. Pharoh caught 135 passes for 2,109 yards and had 17 touchdowns in those years before leaving Columbia. However, that type of performance has yet to translate.
His rookie season saw him catch only 14 passes for 106 yards over 10 games. Cooper will look to rebound in season two under McVay, likely adding returning kicks to his time on the field. It’ll boil down to production and staying healthy for the second year receiver.
I’d written not to long ago that the TE from Western Kentucky should have a big 2017. Given the high profile tight ends had in a McVay offense in Washington would lend one to believe that Higbee is on deck for a breakout season in his second year.
Will that happen?
With Lance Hendricks now in Green Bay, it’s Higbee’s job to keep as the top tight end on the Rams roster. Tyler had a whopping 11, ELEVEN pass receptions in a remarkably impotent Los Angeles offense. Sean McVay will give him every opportunity to long surpass that number this season.
It’ll be on Higbee to deliver.
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Yes, this one is a no brainer. The number one overall selection in last year’s NFL Draft was hardly distinguishable over his seven starts in 2016. As Rams fans and observers know, he’ll enter his sophomore season with a record of 0-7. Getting of the “schneid” will be critical to his development and his confidence.
In Goff’s defense, he inherited a train wreck of an offense when the cord was finally and mercilessly pulled on Fisher favorite, Case Keenum. But by that time, the dye was cast in Los Angeles, and Goff was only getting game reps for a team that had gone relatively rudderless.
Sean McVay will need these guys in 2017. They’ll also be looked at to provide leadership on a team who will sport a new look, both figuratively and literally. Should Cooper, Higbee, or Goff slide into that “Sophomore Slump”, breaking that omnipresent glass ceiling of .500 may be a tougher task than anyone expects.