Using LA Rams HC Sean McVay preferences at WR and RB to predict final roster

Does Coach McVay have a specific type? If he does, then predicting the team's final roster at WR and RB are child's play.
Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams
Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams / Harry How/GettyImages

Is it me, or do the players who seem to find success in the LA Rams offense start to resemble one another? If the team is going to look at extending a wide receiver in this offense, they are more often than not going to possess the same size, physicality, and style as former wide receiver Robert Woods.

So too, if any running back is going to catch the eye and get plenty of offensive snaps in this offense, they ultimately end up having the same size, agility, and elusiveness as former running back, Darrell Henderson Jr.

I don't believe that the team's front office has attempted to use either player as some form of prototype standard for either position. After all, you can point to Jacob Harris, Ben Skowronek, or Tutu Atwell as wide receivers that the front office drafted to this team to round out a range of skillsets and options for the offense, but inevitably the players who flourish have been consistently Robert Woods-like in their dimensions, skills, physicality, and success in this offense.

Bobby Trees is the Rams WR prototype

The pattern gets reinforced with each new player who succeeds. From WR Cooper Kupp to FA WR Odell Beckham Jr., to WRs Puka Nacua and Demarcus Robinson, it' all seems to come down to a height of 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-2, and a playing weight of 200 to 210 pounds. Those construct rather limiting physical dimensions, but seem to hold the magic intersection to be big enough to hold physicality in the NFL, yet still mainstream enough to ensure that the team has a steady supply of candidates.

Does it come down to mysticism that defies logic? Or can we establish a logical causal relationship to the pattern?

The pattern seems to be the number of offensive snaps and targets in this offense. We know that before he was injured in 2021, there were reports that Robert Woods was growing frustrated with a lack of targets. Speedy veteran WR Desean Jackson was released after expressing his frustration over a lack of targets. Allen Robinson, a veteran WR who signed with the team for 2022, seemed to struggle to attract targets.

For a better contrast, when the Rams had no viable alternative for throwing to WR Tutu Atwell in 2023, he seemed to put up plenty of yards. But after Kupp returned from IR, it was Nacua who continued to be targeted and Atwell whose volume dropped precipitously.

Henderson is the prototypical Rams running back

In similar fashion, the Rams added running back Darrell Henderson Jr. to the roster in 2019 to give an option for a change of pace option to that of featured RB Todd Gurley. While he stands 5-foot-8 and weighs a burley 208 pounds, he did offer the offense a new type of threat, one that the team would not easily surrender.

After Henderson's addition, the team did not focus on smaller backs exclusively. But the team did lean towards a new standard at RB in 2022 as the team drafted former Notre Dame RB Kyren Williams. Williams stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 194 pounds. To augment the roster even further, the team added Ronnie Rivers, a player with nearly identical dimensions at 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds. In the 2023 NFL Draft, the team drafted RB Blake Corum, a strong footed runner who stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 210 pounds.

Another pattern seems to be forming.

These repetitive patterns are not random events nor coincidences. The Rams favor certain types of players based on the success of their peers and predecessors. How long will this pattern hold? And will the Rams roster boast successful players at WR or RB who do not fit those rigid dimensions?:

If we hold to those same models to predict who will earn a roster spot for this team in 2024, then we can expect both rookie WRs Jordan Whittington and Sam Wiglusz to have a great shot at making the team.

In similar fashion, it would appear that outliers at running back, both Boston Scott and Zach Evans, may have a greater challenge to make this roster than originally though.

Stay tuned. And as always, thanks for reading.