The Los Angeles Rams secondary looks to be the most improved unit on a fearsome defense that has the potential to be one of the NFL’s best in 2018.
Most Improved: The Secondary
As the 2018-19 NFL season approaches, the Los Angeles Rams are shaping up their newly found defense. The secondary is shaping up to be one of the best for the upcoming season but the Rams still have some holes to fill.
After vigorously shaking up the league during free agency by adding names like Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, the Rams new secondary is sizing up to legendary units like the “Legion of Boom” and the “No Fly Zone.”
Talib and Peters are guaranteed starters. What makes this secondary even better is their depth. The Rams resigned Nickell Robey-Coleman and franchise-tagged Lamarcus Joyner. Last year, these players all ranked in the top-20 of their player positions. Among the highest ranks, Joyner was third out of 87 and Talib was 15 out of 121.
The Pro Bowl cornerbacks won’t struggle to fill the spot of Trumaine Johnson, the only loss at the position.
Although the Rams have added some big names to their secondary, they did leave some big holes in between.
Least Improved: Linebackers
Looking at linebackers, Alec Ogletree was traded to the New York Giants for two late round draft picks. The Rams failed to pick up any players that fit Ogletree’s level of importance. They have three LB rookies and are waiting for Morgan Fox to return from an ACL injury.
With offseason practices coming to a close, players including Mark Barron and Cory Littleton are expected to play inside, with Samson Ebukam and Matt Longacre outside. Barron played alongside Ogletree last season, but otherwise, these are very fresh faces. The outside is completely different compared to the line-up of Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin, who were let go in free agency.
If any of these players go down, a rookie will have to step up. The Rams may have a clutch player in Micah Kiser, who was a fifth-round pick and led the ACC in tackles three years in a row.
The Ram’s LB unit will definitely be tested this season.
On the line a scrimmage, Ndamukong Suh heads the unit. Suh was the best pick-up by the Rams in free agency. With 51.5 career tackles in two years, Suh brings power and dominance to the line. All-Pro and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald is awaiting a contract agreement but if secured, this will be one nasty unit to go up against. Otherwise, the Rams will be feeling the sting from missing Barwin and Quinn.
The offense doesn’t have much to worry about, considering 10 of 11 starters from last season have returned. Brandin Cooks replaced a sleepy Sammy Watkins, leaving no place for doubt in that position. A question of depth for the offense does linger. With the Rams putting a majority of focus into pick-ups on defense, they will need to hope for a no-injury season.
The Rams still have a young star in Todd Gurley, who is expected to be an even better player this year with his consistent growth. He also has rookie John Kelley to influence.
Downfield, quarterback Jared Goff will have to adjust his focus to Cooks but will have familiar faces in Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Behind these players are Mike Thomas and Josh Reynolds, who haven’t seen much play but will be expected to step up.
At Tight End, Gerald Everett will look to build upon his somewhat quiet rookie season, as he will aim to become one of the NFL’s premier red zone threats.
Goff will continue leading his offense and will continue to grow from each play.
The Rams have taken significant steps to come back as a stronger Super Bowl contender. After a wild-card loss to the Atlanta Falcons last season, the team surely has their eyes on a clear target this year.
With a booming secondary, a familiar offense and a confident Sean McVay, the Rams are THE team to watch.