If you’re reading this now, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back for making it through another treacherous offseason. Today, the St. Louis Rams veterans reports to headquarters to open 2014 Training Camp, joining up with the rookies who have been in the building since earlier in the week. Like every year, training camp is a time for unbridled excitement among fans, players, and coaches, alike. On the field, there are heated position battles, star players returning from injury, and new “wrinkles” being added to the offensive and defensive playbooks. Off the field, there is just as much going on, with late-July being primetime for Fantasy Football drafts, stats and record projections, and the ever-controversial Power Rankings.
Several “big name” sites have already begun to unleash their preseason rankings, formulating a comprehensive slotting of teams heading into 2014 based on a variety of factors. Performance in 2013, moves in free agency, and key additions from the 2014 NFL Draft are all ingredients that play a role in where your team ends up on the final list.
For the St. Louis Rams, all arrows seems to be pointing up. There 2013 performance, on paper, was “average,” finishing the season with an all-too-familiar 7-9 record. However, considering the youth of the roster and the fact that Kellen Clemens was the man under center for over half of the regular season, there is certainly reason for excitement. In free agency, the Rams essentially sustained their roster, letting only a handful of sub-par talents walk, while adding only one borderline-”splashy” player in Kenny Britt. However, they did manage arguably the top non-player free agent signing of the offseason, bringing back mastermind Gregg Williams to take over as defensive coordinator. In the Draft, the Rams truly stole the show, snagging the top offensive lineman (Greg Robinson), defensive tackle (Aaron Donald), and hybrid defensive back (LaMarcus Joyner) prospects in the class. They also managed to steal Tre Mason, who just broke Bo Jackson’s single-season rushing record at Auburn, as well as added some competitive pieces to the battle in the secondary, including EJ Gaines, Mo Alexander, and, as an undrafted free agent, Marcus Roberson.
So, how will all of those moves rank the St. Louis Rams headed into training camp and the preseason?
They should be another strong NFC West defensive team, but the key will be how well Sam Bradford plays at quarterback.
It’s hard not to love the Rams’ rookie class.
With huge, potentially dominant left tackle Greg Robinson (who’ll solidify the left guard position as a rookie), interior pass-rusher Aaron Donald and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, the Rams got quality players at areas of need.
The big questions: Can quarterback Sam Bradford finally take that big step forward, and does any Rams receiver not named Tavon Austin pose a threat?
Head coach Jeff Fisher is doing a wonderful job putting together a nasty defensive line, but it will take much more than that to stand out in the NFC West.
Make or break year for Sam Bradford.
Might not show up in the record, but the Rams are going to be hell to play, and they’ll be a playoff team if Sam Bradford plays the way he was drafted to play.
As most would expect, the view of the St. Louis Rams seems to vary from evaluation to evaluation. In reality, until they prove otherwise, the boys in the golden horns should likely be content with being ranked in the middle of the league. However, if Sam Bradford and his young cast of misfits can “break out” offensively, the sky is the limit for the Rams and their already-monstrous defense.
Tags: St. Louis Rams