EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The folks over at Pro Football Focus have made an annual project out of ranking the 32 NFL rosters from top to bottom. This is their second year doing it for us here at ESPN, and the Seattle Seahawks top the list for the second year in a row.
As for the St. Louis Rams, things look to be on the upswing, but it still isn't overly encouraging that PFF ranks their roster No. 22 overall. In other words, the Rams are still 10 spots away from having what would be considered a playoff roster in the eyes of PFF. The good news is that the Rams ranked No. 31 overall last year and jumped nine spots, one of the biggest leaps of any team.
Perhaps most of note is how PFF sees the top five and bottom five players on each team. For the Rams, they rank Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Chris Long, William Hayes and Nick Fairley as the team's five best players. I'd probably say otherwise, but it's very telling that they see five defensive linemen as the five best players on the mean.
Meanwhile, PFF sees linebacker Alec Ogletree, tackle Greg Robinson, receiver Tavon Austin and quarterback Nick Foles are players who "should be upgraded." I would argue that Robinson and Ogletree, in particular, will upgrade themselves simply by continuing to grow in their roles. Ogletree played much better down the stretch last year and has showed major star potential at times in his first two seasons. He just needs to find consistency.
Robinson was always going to take some time to get rolling, but he should make a jump in his second year. This could be a big year for Austin, who must start producing beyond punt returns to prove his long-term value on an offense that has designs on being centered on the run game.
And, of course, Foles remains a big question mark. It's unfair to say he must be upgraded at this point before he ever plays a game with the Rams. The team is clearly hoping he can fill the role they have in mind for a quarterback in this offense. Which is to say that he needs to take care of the ball and take advantage when opportunities arise.
This is still one of the youngest rosters in the league and many of these players still have plenty of time to grow and get better. The Rams would prefer that to happen sooner than later. But it's worth mentioning that this is a roster that didn't have significant changes last year and jumped nine spots in large part because of the development of players already on the team. If that happens again, the Rams could take another leap forward in these rankings next year.
A roundup of Wednesday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com: In the Ram-blings, we looked at where the Rams' top trio of skill position players ranks compared to the rest of the league. ... In this week's buzz video, I discuss the Rams' need to start taking care of some of next year's offseason business sooner than later. ... Offensive lineman Rodger Saffold is now the elder statesman on the Rams' offensive line and is doing all he can to embrace the role. ... Defensive tackle Michael Brockers is hoping to get a long-term deal done with the Rams. ... Receiver Brian Quick is progressing from his shoulder and arm injury but there's still no definitive timetable on his return.
Reports indicate that St. Louis has already spent $3 million toward putting an NFL stadium on the city's north riverfront.
101sports.com examines Nick Foles' efforts to take on a leadership role in St. Louis.
At stltoday.com, Jim Thomas writes that Saffold and Robinson must be the focal points of a young offensive line.