With the Los Angeles Rams set to kick off their preseason opener versus the Oakland Raiders, the team has released their first unofficial depth chart of the year.
There is still so much time until the start of the regular season, so the depth chart may undergo a lot of changes from now until then. Regardless though, he is a breakdown of the first depth chart and what it could mean moving forward:
While there is no discrepancy regarding Jared Goff’s status as the clear-cut starter, the preseason should still provide some intrigue under center after the Rams’ signed Blake Bortles to a one-year deal to be the backup. Meanwhile, Brandon Allen and John Wolford will be competing for what is likely the last spot on the quarterback depth chart.
There has been plenty of speculation regarding the health of workhorse Todd Gurley this offseason. Fortunately, Los Angeles has managed to shore up some solid depth behind him by re-signing Malcolm Brown and taking Darrell Henderson in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. These two will face plenty of competition trying to establish themselves as the change-of-pace option in the backfield.
The receiving corps has seen the least turnover since the end of the 2018 campaign as it is still headed by their talented triumvirate in Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp. Meanwhile, Josh Reynolds, JoJo Natson, and Khadarel Hodge are hoping to build off their increased workload from last season moving forward.
Surprisingly, this is one of the deepest personnel groups on offense heading into the preseason opener with the Rams currently carrying a whopping six tight ends, including the usual mainstays in Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett.
The offensive line experienced perhaps the most turnover on this side of the ball with the departure of Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan this offseason. As expected, they will be replaced by Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen with Jamil Demby and Aaron Neary potentially waiting in the wings.
The departure of Ndamukong Suh left a notable void up front alongside Aaron Donald. The first depth chart reveals that Sebastian Joseph-Day will be the one tasked with taking his place moving forward, however, there has been plenty of talk about rookie Greg Gaines’ potential to make an immediate impact as well.
The linebacker corps may be the area of biggest concern for the Rams’ defense due to the lack of experience on the inside between Cory Littleton and Micah Kiser as well as the lack of depth on the outside behind Dante Fowler Jr. and Clay Matthews. The injuries to Justin Lawler and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo raise even further questions about this group.
It is safe to say that the secondary gained quite the boost through free agency by essentially replacing Lamarcus Joyner with Eric Weddle alongside John Johnson III over the top. Meanwhile, the trio of Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Nickell Robey-Coleman are as talented of a cornerback group as one will find in this league. Additionally, rookie safety Taylor Rapp has been drawing rave reviews in Training Camp and his versatile skill set could allow him to be plugged in anywhere on a number of sub-packages in Wade Phillips’ defense.
Los Angeles welcomes back the best special teams crew in the game with four-time First-Team All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker. He is joined by two-time Pro Bowl snapper Jake McQuaide and Greg Zuerlein, who is just a year removed from his First-Team All-Pro campaign. Natson is also slated to resume his post as the team’s return specialist.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in all of this was the fact that Henderson is labeled as the fifth running back on the depth chart. There has been plenty of hype surrounding his arrival, however, it appears he still has plenty of work to do after being stashed behind Brown, John Kelly, and Justin Davis heading into the preseason opener. It is also a bit peculiar to see that the Rams are carrying so many tight ends om their roster at this point in the offseason. This indicates that McVay is likely hoping to utilize plenty of two-tight end sets on offense. Regardless, it is safe to assume this position will get much thinner as the Rams look to fill some of their other voids ahead of the regular season.
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