May 10, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Auston (11) runs a drill as St. Louis Rams wide receiver Stedman Baily (12) prepares for his turn during rookie minicamp at Rams Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams: Better or Worse?

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No longer am I locked in my room, eating instant pre-packaged food, sipping countless amounts of coffee in order to prepare for my finals. Finally the brain can solely focus on whats most important… Football. This time of year on the football calendar is definitely the most quiet, as teams prepare themselves for the much anticipated and dreaded training camp.

At this quiet time on the NFL calendar, the only football news out is of each teams “star” rookies and their so to be said amazing potential that have been displayed at rookie mini camps and OTA’s. The game however, isn’t played in shorts. For some reason this type of hype gets to the fans’ head, resulting in completely over rating most rookies. This article is going to bring the Ram Nation back to the surface, by analyzing every  position (other than Kicker and Punter), and stating whether the positions were better or worse than last year going into the 2013 season.

OFFENSE

Quarterback – Okay, no players have changed in this position. The one thing that has changed is that Sam Bradford can finally go into a new season with the same playbook as the previous year, something that has never happened to Bradford as a Ram. This will allow Bradford to work on his weaknesses from the previous year and be able to conduct the offense with more authority. With Bradford’s second year with wide receiver Chris Givens, expect the two to build on their chemistry and do wonders for the offense.
Overall – Better

Wide Receiver – Chris Givens was somewhat a one trick pony early on the 2012 season, but as 2012 drew to an end, Chris Givens was looking more like a complete receiver. Austin Pettis has been receiving praises from Brian Schottenheimer stating that he was the “MVP” of the OTA’s. Again, the game isn’t played in shorts, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to hear that he’s playing good ball. Losing Danny Amendola to the New England Patriots was obviously a little bit of a downer for the offensive side, as he was Bradfords safety blanket. With the addition of Tavon Austin, (arguably the most explosive player to come out of the 2013 NFL draft) you can’t help but get excited with what he will bring to the offense. Not only will he make the wide receiving core better, he will also help fix the 26th ranked special teams.
Overall – Better 

Running Back  – No one can stand here and make a valuable point that the running back position is stronger going into this season than the last. The Rams have lost a 13,000 all purpose yard and a 64 touchdown running back in Steven Jackson. It’s safe to say there’s no replacing that this year. Despite the loss of the Rams all time rushing leader (no big deal), the Rams do have an interesting young group of running backs. Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy are all hungry for that starting job. There’s no doubt the Rams will squeeze out every little bit of talent that these running backs have to offer.
Overall – Worse

Full Back - It’s hard to know what exactly what the Rams are doing at the full back position as of yet, because there isn’t a player penciled in the roster as a fullback. Tight end Lance Kendricks did see a fair few snaps at the full back position last year, maybe his reps at full back will increase considering the Rams now have an established receiving tight end in Jared Cook.
Overall – Balanced

Tight Ends - The addition of Jared Cook, will allow Rams to have one of the most potent tight end duo’s in the NFL. Lance Kendricks had some what of a little break out year, as he was able to collect 519 yards receiving for four touchdowns. While Cook had a very up and down year with only starting five of the 13 games, he was still able to gather 523 yards for four touchdowns. It’s easy to say that the Titans didn’t use Cook to their full advantage. Now with Cook re-united with Jeff Fisher, the coach who drafted him five years ago, expect Cook to rejuvenate his young career.
Overall – Better

Offensive Line – On paper, the Rams have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Again, only on paper. The biggest knock on the Rams offensive line isn’t their blocking skills, rather it’s whether or not they can maintain the same big guys blocking from round one till round 17, or heck, even playoffs. Jake Long protecting the blindside is a comforting thought, though again, no point in having him on the roster if he only plays 10 games a season. Jake Long’s investment is very much a boom or bust type of deal. Roger Saffold is usually over looked when it comes to discussing quality tackles. Moving over to the right side to make room for Long really shows where Saffold’s heart lies. Undoubtably, the offensive line has improved, but if injuries can be minimized this line could be a top 10 line in the NFL.
Overall – Better 


DEFENSE

Safeties – The loss of Quintin Mikell is a huge blow for the Rams. It will be very hard to replace his 101 tackles, four forced fumbles and three sacks. Craig Dahl on the other hand was somewhat of a frustrating player for the Ram supporters and not too many were sad to see him shipped to San Francisco. However, he did at least bring experience to the table, something the current safeties do not have. T.J. McDonald is a rookie with obviously no NFL experience and Darian Stewart didn’t start a single game last year. Although the safety position was addressed in the draft, this remains the Rams weakest position on the roster.
Overall – Worse

Cornerbacks - Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan had a very up and down season last year. Jenkins was more the case of rookie growing pains, as he struggled early on in the season to then become one of the most dangerous corners towards the end of the season. He had four defensive touchdowns, which is an all time rookie NFL record. Finnegan was on the opposite end. He started dangerously, having gotten an interception in his first three games, including taking one to the house. He then dropped a little in form, allowing more and more quarterbacks to target him. Trumaine Johnson is a long, rangy, athletic nickel corner who is looking like he has the goods.
Overall – Balanced

Linebackers - James Laurinaitus has been the rock of this defence for the last four years. The only problem is that the Rams weren’t able to find Laurinitus any other linebackers to help support him. This was until the Rams signed Jo-Lonn Dunbar. He has been nothing short of a good linebacker for the Rams, as he was able to collect 115 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. The one knock on Dunbar is that he is a liability in pass coverage. Now, in comes Alec Ogletree. He’s a hard hitting, rangy, fast linebacker from Georgia, who was actually a former safety. All of a sudden the Rams linebackers are almost the best position on the roster.
Overall – Better

Defensive Line - The reason behind the statement that ‘the Rams linebackers are almost the best position on the roster’ is simply because of these big guys. This front four played the starring role of the Rams being the number one sack team in the NFL last year, able to collect 52 sacks. You’ve got Robert Quinn who is itching to break out to be a 15+ sack player, Chris Long who is just a non stop beast on the other end, William Hayes who is the defensive linemen equivalent of a swiss army knife and finally the 21 year old who arguably had the best defensive linemen rookie season last year, Michael Brockers. Will the defensive line help the Rams reach 52 sacks this year? Maybe, maybe not. But will they be worse? Absolutely not.
Overall – Better 

Follow me on Twitter at @davebarber92

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Tags: Jake Long NFL Offseason St. Louis Rams Tavon Austin

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