Jared Goff lifts Rams' offseason grade to B-
The Rams haven’t produced a winning record in over a decade, and it looks like that feat may still be a few years away. While Los Angeles has their quarterback of the future, they gave up a lot to get him, and lost even more in free agency. If Goff lives up to his potential, the Rams offseason grade could very well become a retroactive A+, and if not, it’s an F. For now, we’ll be cautiously optimistic.
Offseason grade: B-
Additions: DT Dominique Easley (Patriots), DE Quinton Coples (Dolphins), CB Coty Sensabaugh (Titans)
Departures: S Rodney McLeod (Eagles), DT Nick Fairley (Saints), CB Janoris Jenkins (Giants), TE Jared Cook (Packers), DE Chris Long (Patriots), LB James Laurinaitis (Saints)
The Rams had one of the worst free-agency periods of any team in the league, being one of only five teams that lost three players with a PFF grade of 80.0 or more last season. One of their biggest strengths last year was their secondary, but now they’ve lost half of their starters in that unit. On the bright side, Los Angeles was able to re-sign some of their better players, like defensive end William Hayes (85.6) and cornerback Trumaine Johnson (82.2), but are still left with more holes on defense than they started with.
Their biggest addition came late in free agency with Dominique Easley, who should replace Nick Fairley’s role in the defensive-tackle rotation. Easley averaged a pressure once in every six pass rushes, best for defensive tackles last year, although it came over a small sample size. He was just ahead of new teammate Aaron Donald in this regard, who finished second at one pressure in every 6.3 pass rushes.
Quinton Coples, another offseason addition, should be a rotational defensive end for the Rams. He had 16 pressures and failed to record a sack last year. New LA cornerback Coty Sensabaugh allowed 765 passing yards last season, 12th-most among all NFL cornerbacks.
Rams’ projected 2016 base defense (2015 grades shown)
2016 NFL draft
- Round 1, pick No. 1: QB Jared Goff, California
- Round 4, pick No. 110: TE Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky
- Round 4, pick No. 117: WR Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
- Round 6, pick No. 177: TE Temarrick Hemingway, South Carolina State
- Round 6, Pick 190: LB Josh Forrest, Kentucky
- Round 6, Pick 206: WR Mike Thomas, Southern Mississippi
Not only will this Rams’ draft class sink or swim depending on Jared Goff’s play, but the team as a whole will likely do the same. Los Angeles gave up a lot of its draft capitol to get Goff, but they used their mid- and late-round picks on players who should contribute to the offense immediately. Tyler Higbee averaged 2.30 yards per route run last season, third-most for tight ends in the FBS. He joins a Los Angeles team that runs two-tight end sets on over 30 percent of snaps, and had Lance Kendricks and Justice Cunningham on the depth chart heading into the draft. Wide receiver Pharoh Cooper can join the rotation thanks to his ability to make plays after the catch. He forced 17 missed tackles on his catches in 2014, and another 16 in 2015, both good for top-20 in the FBS.
The Rams have a few clear strengths—running back and defensive line—but too many weaknesses to expect the team to be successful with a rookie QB in year one. At least they can scratch quarterback off the list of needs, but in turn this offseason, they’ve added defensive back to the list. Typically having a good quarterback is more important than having a good secondary, but ideally, the Rams could have added more talent in various positions over the offseason. While cap space was an issue for Los Angeles, signing Trumaine Johnson to a long-term deal or trading Nick Foles would have gone a long way in helping their cap situation so they could have added or re-signed more talent.