Los Angeles Rams could have new starters at 14 of 26 positions

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror, and organized team activities and minicamps in full swing, here’s a starting lineup projection for the Los Angeles Rams:


QB: Jared Goff: The 2016 No. 1 overall pick is the unquestioned starter from the onset this season and will have a lot to prove under an entirely new coaching staff.

RB: Todd Gurley: He went from being the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 to one of the least productive runners in 2016, so which one is the real Todd Gurley?

LT: Andrew Whitworth: The Rams signed Whitworth to a three-year, $33.75 million contract this offseason because he remains one of the game's best pass-blockers, even at 35.

LG: Rodger Saffold: The Rams' offensive line struggled mightily last season, but Saffold, heading into his eighth year with the organization, actually played pretty well.

C: John Sullivan: The 31-year-old started 93 of 96 games for the Vikings from 2009 to '14, but spent the 2015 season recovering from back issues and was a Redskins backup in 2016.

RG: Rob Havenstein: A second-round pick in 2015, Havenstein turned in a solid rookie season, but struggled a bit in 2016 and will now move from right tackle.

RT: Greg Robinson: He was the No. 2 overall pick in 2014, but struggled at left tackle in his first three seasons and is transitioning to the right side.

TE: Gerald Everett: The 44th overall pick in 2017 is athletic and promising but still a little bit raw, and will compete with the young Tyler Higbee for the primary role.

WR: Tavon Austin: The Rams want the 5-foot-8 Austin to develop into more of a deep threat, a la DeSean Jackson with Sean McVay's Redskins, and simply need more production out of him.

WR: Robert Woods: The former USC star and ex-Bills receiver was signed to a five-year, $34 million contract over the offseason and is looking to elevate his game in his hometown.

WR: Cooper Kupp: He is a precise runner who finished his stint at Eastern Washington with a collegiate-record 6,464 receiving yards and could develop into a reliable target out of the slot.

DEFENSE (3-4-4)

DE: Dominique Easley: The former first-round pick of the Patriots had a nice, under-the-radar, bounce-back season with the Rams in 2016 and looks like the favorite to lock down a starting spot now that William Hayes is gone.

NT: Michael Brockers: The Rams signed Brockers, the 14th overall pick in 2012, to a three-year, $33.25 million extension early last season.

DE: Aaron Donald: Wade Phillips' switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 won't change much of anything for Donald -- he will still be a 3-technique, and he will probably still be the game's greatest pass-rusher.

OLB: Connor Barwin: Barwin struggled with the Eagles last season while switching from outside linebacker to defensive end and operating from a different side of the field, but was a very steady producer in five prior seasons.

ILB: Alec Ogletree: A captain last season, Ogletree finished with 136 tackles and a career-best Approximate Value of 13.

ILB: Mark Barron: A hybrid linebacker/safety throughout his career, Barron will probably remain strictly an inside linebacker this season as he tries to carve out a role in Phillips' system.

OLB: Robert Quinn: He compiled 40 sacks from 2012 to '14, but has started only a combined 15 games the past two seasons and will now transition from defensive end to outside linebacker.

CB: Trumaine Johnson: Unless the two sides agree to an extension within the next two months, Johnson will play under the franchise tag for his second consecutive season.

FS: Lamarcus Joyner: Joyner has excelled as a slot corner these past two seasons, but will look to play free safety -- a position he played at Florida State -- when the Rams are in their 3-4 set.

SS: Maurice Alexander: The departure of T.J. McDonald prompted Alexander, a fourth-round pick in 2014, to move from free safety to strong safety, a spot the Rams believe best suits him.

CB: Kayvon Webster: The No. 2 spot at corner will probably be a competition between Webster and E.J. Gaines, but Webster might have the advantage because he spent the past two seasons as a backup on Phillips' Broncos defense.


K: Greg Zuerlein: The 29-year-old has one of the strongest legs in the NFL and improved his field-goal percentage from 66.7 to 86.4 last season, earning a three-year extension.

P: Johnny Hekker: Last season, Hekker was named first-team All-Pro for the third time and placed a record 53 punts inside an opponents' 20-yard line, cementing his reputation as the game's best punter.

KR: Pharoh Cooper: A fourth-round pick in 2016, Cooper will compete for a more prominent role in the offense but seems primed to replace the departed Benny Cunningham as the Rams' kick returner.

PR: Austin: From 2013 to '16, Austin averaged 8.92 yards per punt return -- ranked 18th among 29 qualified returners -- and turned three into touchdowns.