The Los Angeles Rams ended their offseason program on June 14. Here’s a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals: Continue to master second-year coach Sean McVay’s system and build chemistry among several new players in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. McVay’s offense produced the highest-scoring team in the NFL last season, averaging 29.9 points per game, and helped lead the Rams to their first playoff appearance since 2004. Defensively, the Rams must improve a unit that allowed 339.6 yards per game and ranked 19th in total defense.
How they fared: Above average
Move I liked: The Rams’ moves to bolster their defense, trading draft picks for All-Pro cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib and acquiring All-Pro defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh in free agency. Peters, who has intercepted 19 passes in three seasons, and Talib, an 11th-year pro, demonstrated throughout the offseason program their ability to make plays. Peters got his hands on two passes on his first day of workouts alone. Suh’s acclimation to playing in a 3-4 for the first time will take more time to evaluate, given practices aren’t in pads during the offseason program, and Aaron Donald -- who Suh will play alongside -- was absent.
Move I didn’t like: The addition of Peters, Talib and Suh. Yes, this is single-handedly the best, and potentially, worst move. All three are known personalities, or “dynamic competitors” as McVay said. While each is capable of making a game-changing plays, each also has a track record for picking up penalties after the play, something the Rams must avoid if they want to improve on last season’s 11-5 finish and make a deep run in the playoffs.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: Determining whether young and inexperienced players will be ready to start at outside and inside linebacker. The Rams traded veteran outside linebacker Robert Quinn and inside linebacker Alec Ogletree. Samson Ebukam, a second-year pro, practiced in place of Quinn and Cory Littleton, a former undrafted free agent, in place of Ogletree. McVay said both were among standouts throughout the offseason program. But training camp, and padded practices, will better determine if both are capable of filling big roles.
Quotable: “We all know how important Aaron is to this football team and this organization. I think that what I would say is we’re proactive towards finding a solution to make sure that everybody feels good about that... That’s definitely something that we’re proactively trying to figure out a solution to make sure that he feels good and so do we as an organization.” -- Rams coach Sean McVay
The Rams and Aaron Donald remain in a contract dispute that dates to 2017. Donald, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is scheduled to earn $6.9 million in the final season of his rookie contract and is holding out to become the highest-paid player on defense, if not among the highest-paid players in the league.
Salary-cap space: $2,548,094 (According to ESPN Stats and Information)
2018 draft picks: 3. OT Joseph Noteboom (Texas Christian University); 4. OL Brian Allen (Michigan State); 4. DE John Franklin (Stephen F. Austin); 5. LB Micah Kiser (Virginia); 5. OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (Oklahoma); 6. RB John Kelly (Tennessee); 6. OL Jamil Demby (Maine); 6. DL Sebastian Joseph-Day (Rutgers); 6. OLB Trevon Young (Louisville); 7. LB Travin Howard (Texas Christian University); 7. DL Justin Lawler (Southern Methodist University).
Undrafted rookie free agents signed:
DT Chunky Clements (Maine); WR LaQuvionte Gonzalez (Southeastern); RB Nick Holley (Kent State); WR Ricky Jeune (Georgia Tech); OL Jeremiah Kolone (San Jose State); DB Afolabi Laguda (Colorado); TE Codey McElroy (Southeastern Oklahoma State); CB Curtis Mikell (Southern Mississippi); WR Steven Mitchell (Southern California); DT McKay Murphy (Weber State); DB Steven Parker (Oklahoma); QB Luis Perez (Texas A&M-Commerce); CB Ramon Richards (Oklahoma State); LB Tegray Scales (Indiana); DE Brian Womac (Rice).
Unrestricted free agents signed:
DT Dominique Easley (Rams); OT Cornelius Lucas (Rams); LS Jake McQuaide (Rams); CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (Rams); CB Sam Shields (Packers); DT Ndamukong Suh (Dolphins); C John Sullivan (Rams); LB Ramik Wilson (Chiefs)
Players acquired via trade: WR Brandin Cooks (Patriots); CB Marcus Peters (Chiefs); CB Aqib Talib (Broncos)