Our NFL preview is rapid drawing to a close with just 2 more teams left to go. Today we visit the one team in the NFC west that isn’t very west at all; that being the St. Louis Rams.
The Rams are coming off a very disappointing season in 2011. In 2010 it took a week 17 loss to the Seahawks to keep them from winning the division and making the playoffs. There was high hopes for the Rams in 2011, but instead they hit rock bottom going just 2-14.
Helping me out today is Justin Stine from Ramblin Fan.
Biggest Team Need Heading Into Offseason: When talking about the Rams, it might be easier to focus on what they don’t need. QB is set with Sam Bradford, and the Rams are set at MLB and at DE. Other than that, the Rams could use help across the board. OLB is probably the biggest area of need at this point, but it’s far from the only one.
Key Free Agents Retained: Danny Amendola
Key Player Additions: Cortland Finnegan, Scott Wells, Kendall LangfordKey Players Leaving: Justin King, Jacob Bell, Brandon Lloyd
Quick Thoughts on Draft: The Rams pulled off one of the biggest draft trades in recent history, and it helped them land a nice group of picks that helped fill holes. Michael Brockers is going to help immensely on the defensive line, and Janoris Jenkins will be the steal of the draft if he stays out of trouble. Adding Brian Quick and Chris Givens will help the receiving corps, and Isaiah Pead is a much-needed backup for Steven Jackson
Quick Thoughts on 2012 schedule: For a team that won only two games last season, the Rams have a pretty difficult schedule in 2012. Week 1 at Detroit is daunting, as are games against Green Bay and New England back to back in Weeks 7 and 8. Games against Buffalo, Washington and Miami look at least winnable, but there aren’t many smooth stretches.
Most Interesting Roster Battle: I will be watching the battles at CB and WR very closely. The Rams added Finnegan and two draft picks at corner, and Bradley Fletcher shoud be healthy. The Quick and Givens additions at receiver should make things interesting for guys like Greg Salas, Danario Alexander and Austin Pettis.
Biggest Strength Heading Into 2012: Sam Bradford should be poised for a big season, and Steven Jackson is a rock. Chris Long, Robert Quinn and others at DE are a solid group, and James Laurinaitis is as good as it gets in the middle.
Biggest Weakness Heading Into 2012: The Rams addressed several needs this offseason, but they have been unable to do much at OLB. It will be interesting to see how they address the issue before the season starts.
Biggest Question Still To Be Answered: I’m a firm believer in Sam Bradford as a franchise QB, but after last season I think it’s fair to list him as the biggest question. If he gets back to being the Sam Bradford most people think he can be, this team should be greatly improved. If not, the Rams may have to look elsewhere for the future.
2012 Prediction: The Rams will be better, but they might be at least a year or two from competing for the playoffs. I’ll say 6-10 this season, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they won anywhere from 3 on the low end to 9 or 10 if everything fell perfectly.
The Rams had one of the best drafts ever this past April. They moved down just a few spots and got 2 additional first round picks as well as a 2nd rounder for doing so. That one trade alone will provide this rebuilding team a backbone of talent for which to grown around. The problem is that it’ll take a couple seasons before the Rams can make all those high picks, and see the full benefit of that trade, and they’re going to have to wait until then before they’re ready to compete.
Michael Brockers and improved CB play, to go along with good DEs already in place, should create a much improved pass defense. The Rams also had one of the league’s worst run defenses last season, and it’s tough to see how any improvement will be made there.
On offense, the receivers should be better, though much younger so there will likely be some growing pains. I like that they got Pead to back up Jackson at RB, and eventually take over for the future hall of famer. My worries here is that the offensive line is a still a major weakness. Keeping Bradford upright and healthy could be a problem again this season.