With April quickly approaching, it is hard to not be excited about the direction that the St. Louis Rams are headed in. With Jared Cook and Jake Long on board, the real “strides” this offseason have been made on the offensive side of the football. However, even with those acquisitions, there are still a number of areas that will need to be addressed before the St. Louis Rams can contend with the talent in the NFC West. So, in the spirit of the offseason, how does Ramblin’ Fan think the St. Louis Rams starting offensive roster will look in August?
Quarterback: Sam Bradford
Unless Sam walks into Les Snead’s office and messes up his hair, there is no doubt that Bradford will be manning the helm of the offense this coming season. The most interesting news at the position by the be surgence of Austin Davis into the “back-up” role…
Running Back: Daryl Richardson
Jeff Fisher has never hid the fact that he prefers to play by a running back-by-committee approach. With Steven Jackson out of the picture, Fisher can now fully utilize that system, meaning the two 2012 draftees, Isaiah Pead and Richardson, will likely to split time in the backfield. Even with a marginal increase in snap at the end of the season for Pead, there is nothing to suggest that he will pass up Daryl Richardson on the depth chart. There are also suggestions that the St. Louis Rams might consider taking a running back in the draft. Les Snead floated the idea that they “liked” Eddie Lacy, who would likely cost the Rams one of their first rounders. However, it wouldn’t be surprising to see St. Louis bite on one of the “red flag” guys in the mid-rounds, like Marcus Lattimore.
Wide Receivers: Chris Givens and Cordarrelle Patterson
There are two big parts that will play a role in these starters: the NFL draft and the progression of Brian Quick in the offense. To start, snagging Patterson would naturally mean that the Rams picked him up at some point in the first. The “signs” might be pointing to the St. Louis Rams interest in Tavon Austin, but with his stock quickly rising, it is looking more and more likely that he will be gone by the time the Rams’ pick in the 16th slot. Miami and New York might bite on the explosive slot man, but teams like Minnesota, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and even San Francisco have also been linked to Austin, and could easily jump the Rams to snag him (think Jacksonville jumping to 5th last year to grab Blackmon). With Austin off the board, Patterson will default to the next best (if not already the best) receiver available in the draft.
With Quick, there is no telling how he will progress this offseason with Bradford. With Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, and Brandon Gibson all gone, Quick will likely see significantly more reps in OTAs and training camp. Even so, Givens has locked up a starting spot with his performance last season, and you typically do not use a first rounder on a player that would not be a starter… that leaves Quick on the outside looking in, at least as a starter. Naturally, Brian Quick, Austin Pettis, and even Jared Cook will be worked into the wide receiver rotation, but technically that doesn’t make them “starters” on the roster.
Do not expect Steve Smith to remain the starter on the depth chart…
Tight End: Lance Kendricks/Jared Cook
The name that will be listed as the “starter” on the depth chart should be Lance Kendricks, even with the signing of Cook to the big money contract. However, after the release of Brit Miller halfway through last season, Kendricks was listed as the Rams’ starting fullback on the depth chart. As of right now, the St. Louis Rams official site has both Kendricks and Cook listed as the starters, without anyone designated to the fullback role. Regardless, both will see amble time on the field; in tight, in the slot, out wide, and in the backfield.
Tackles: Rodger Saffold and Jake Long
The only (yet still highly unlikely) question here might be who will be starting on the left, and who will be starting on the right. Assuming the Rodger Saffold eventually comes back from vacation, he should be moved back to the position he was originally drafted to play, and Jake will be manning the blindside.
Guards: Rok Watkins and Harvey Dahl
While 75% of the most recent mocks might have the St. Louis Rams taking a guard in the first round, conventional wisdom and Fisher’s draft history suggest otherwise. St. Louis already has a starting-caliber left guard on the roster, one that has been putting in work this offseason to ensure that he is healthy and in-shape for the start of summer workouts; Rok Watkins. The only thing that might throw a wrench in the works would be if the Rams drafted a player like Barrett Jones or Kyle Long in the 2nd or 3rd round. Competition for the starting job in St. Louis might not be a bad thing, especially for a grouping that has been plagued with injuries and lacking in depth/talent for the last half decade. Still, I would except Watkins to be lined up between Long and Wells on opening day of the regular season.
Center: Scott Wells
… hopefully! Wells missed a majority of last season with various injuries, the most substantial being the broken foot that required surgery and sent him to the IR in the opening weeks of the regular season. With a full offseason to get himself into playing shape, away from the confides of the ‘rehab room,” St. Louis will hopefully get the production out of Wells that they expected when they handed him that big contract in 2012, luring him away from the Green Bay Packers.