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PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 17: St. Louis Rams

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chris Long AP

The St. Louis Rams were actually the most successful team within the NFC West last season. The Rams went 4-1-1 in six games against the rest of the division. Their only loss came in Week 17 to the Seattle Seahawks. It was the rest of the league that St. Louis struggled against. They were just 3-7 outside of the division as they finished with a 7-8-1 record.

Head coach Jeff Fisher recharged an organization that has floundered for most of the last decade. The Rams are the most talented they’ve been since the mid-2000’s. On defense, the Rams have become one of the better pass rushing units in the league. Offensively, quarterback Sam Bradford has more weapons to work with than any time in his first three years in St. Louis.

However, they also have two of the best teams in the league in their division as well in Seattle and San Francisco. Where do the Rams sit entering training camp? We take a look at the roster below.

Strengths.

The Rams’ pass rush quietly became one of the most effective units in the league last season. St. Louis finished the season tied for the league lead in sacks with the Denver Broncos with 52 sacks on the season. Starting defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn each posted double-digit sacks to lead the group. Jo-Lonn Dunbar also added 4.5 sacks from the linebacker position.

The cornerback position has also become a solid group for St. Louis. Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins worked well together last season. Trumaine Johnson provides a competent nickel option as well. Depth behind the top three is a bit suspect but it’s a position the Rams should feel comfortable with entering the season.

The Rams have been woefully deficient at the offensive tackle positions for a long time. Rodger Saffold, when healthy, had lessened some of those concerns as the team’s left tackle the last three seasons. Now with the addition of Jake Long in free agency, the Rams can feel confident in the players protecting the edges for Sam Bradford.

Weaknesses.

The Steven Jackson era in St. Louis is over and the Rams are left with unproven options at running back. Daryl Richardson served as a nice change-up option for the Rams last season but can he be more than that? Isaiah Pead was selected in the second round last year and could become the featured option. However, he will miss the season opener to suspension and only saw 10 carries last season. Terrance Ganaway is a bigger back that could also compete for starters reps.

The Rams will need to get improved play from the guard positions this season. Harvey Dahl has started 30 games over the last two seasons and is a solid option at right guard. Left guard still remains up in the air. Shelley Smith started six games last season but didn’t make a major impression. He will compete with former Chicago Bears first-round selection Chris Williams for the starting job when camp opens.

The Rams are hopeful West Virginia teammates Tavon Austin and Steadman Bailey will give Bradford a pair of reliable options at receiver. However, the talent remains unproven. The Rams are lacking a true No. 1 receiver and will need to get production from the likes of Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis as well. There is talent in the group but the position has to prove it’s taken a step forward.

Changes.

The addition of Jake Long at left tackle allows the Rams to move Rodger Saffold to the right side and potentially solidify a position that has been lackluster for many years in St. Louis. Tight end Jared Cook also followed Jeff Fisher from Tennessee in free agency and will be an addition weapon for Bradford in the passing game.

The Rams lost wide receivers Danny Amendola to the New England Patriots and Brandon Gibson to the Miami Dolphins. Safeties Craig Dahl (San Francisco) and Quinton Mikell (free agent) are both gone. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher signed in Philadelphia and Jackson left for Atlanta.

Camp battles.

The battle between Smith and Williams for the left guard spot will be one to keep an eye on. Pead, Ganaway and Richardson will battle for the starting running back job.

The safety position should also see intense competition during training camp. With Dahl and Mikell gone, veterans Darian Stewart and Matt Giordano will be pushed by third-round draft pick T.J. McDonald. Also, the third linebacker position alongside Dunbar and James Laurinaitis will be up for grabs. First-round pick Alec Ogletree is likely the favorite for the spot but could see competition if he has some bumps in the road.

Prospects.

The Rams won four of their final six games to end last year with losses to Minnesota and Seattle – both playoff teams. They should be improved again this year with some added stability to the offensive line and some help for Bradford offensively.

After showing flashes of his talent as a rookie, Bradford hasn’t been able to live up to expectations yet in his first three seasons. With Cook and Austin joining the squad, Bradford will finally have some dynamic weapons in the passing game to work with and a defense that should be able to keep them in games. Defensively, the Rams should take a step forward as well if Ogletree and McDonald can take hold of starting jobs in the back seven.

St. Louis has a chance to challenge for a playoff spot this season but finding a way into the postseason will be a difficult challenge out of the NFC West. If Seattle or San Francisco slip, the Rams could be right on their heels to take advantage and leave someone unexpectedly home in January.

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45 Responses to “PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 17: St. Louis Rams”
  1. somekat says: Jul 16, 2013 3:07 PM

    I don’t know why, but I have a feeling Stl may be a team that surprises a lot of people this year. The question will be if Bradford can take the next step

  2. ctiggs says: Jul 16, 2013 3:10 PM

    This is a good spot for the Lambs.

  3. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 16, 2013 3:13 PM

    I agree 100%. My buddy has the crazy idea of going to Vegas to bet on a St. Louis v KC superbowl….

    I can’t wait to see the next installment of Andre Johnson vs Cortland Finnegan this year.

    Dre has owned him in the past but Finnegan knows how to get under his skin.

    Have a feeling Jenkins will draw Dre though….

  4. glazerh8er says: Jul 16, 2013 3:14 PM

    The Rams have the most overhyped and overpaid team in the league (no cap space for average team at best). With love, Bucs fan.

  5. beavertonsteve says: Jul 16, 2013 3:18 PM

    C’mon Curtis. Ganaway is not realisticly in the mix at RB. The guy who actually has a shot at the job is Rookie Zac Stacy from Vanderbilt. With his size and speed (he is basically a clone of Doug Martin in both areas) he has a strong shot at short yardage and goal line duties and with a great camp he could find himself the featured back.

    Other than that major flaw it was a pretty good write up.

  6. losangelesbillsofbuffalo says: Jul 16, 2013 3:20 PM

    I think the Rams will put out a competitive team week in and week out. But this seems a bit too high, especially considering they lost 2 leaders in SJax and Amendola. Also, I get how everyone sees the playmaking ability in Tavon, but it seems like everyone is locking him in to being a stud WR, which to me is a bit overzealous. This team is certainly not better than Chicago.

  7. crownofthehelmet says: Jul 16, 2013 3:20 PM

    somekat says:Jul 16, 2013 3:07 PM

    I don’t know why, but I have a feeling Stl may be a team that surprises a lot of people this year.
    —————————————————-
    I know why – you’re a Rams fan. No one else has that feeling.

  8. jmak79 says: Jul 16, 2013 3:23 PM

    High ranking for a team with no running back, shuffled offensive line, unproven recievers, and a qb that hasn’t lived up to his contract.

    Good defense, but they look wore out when the offense was going 3 and out all day.

  9. markchmurasbabysitter says: Jul 16, 2013 3:25 PM

    They should clear up some cap space and trade Bradford for Geno Smith. The St. Louis Mountaineers.

  10. obmig says: Jul 16, 2013 3:32 PM

    Bradford is absolutely running out of time. He has to make it happen this year.

  11. justintuckrule says: Jul 16, 2013 3:34 PM

    Kind of like the Mt. Rushmore thing, here’s where the wheels fall off this rankings gimmick. I don’t care how great their defense is, without a no. 1 WR, a halfway decent RB and questions at QB, this team is not better than half the teams in the league.

  12. glazerh8er says: Jul 16, 2013 3:34 PM

    And the Cowboys, with no apparent running game since Emmitt Smith and no secondary since Dion Sanders, and no place kick holder that makes less than 100million, continue to climb.

  13. flyman779 says: Jul 16, 2013 3:40 PM

    I think Gannaway has a chance , Fisher loves to pound the ball with big RB’S and it’s wide open right now in the backfield anyone guess is good imo .

  14. lasher1650 says: Jul 16, 2013 3:45 PM

    Make or break season for the last of the $50 million draft bonus babies in Bradford. Rams solidified the OL with Jake Long and provided a truly dynamic weapon in WR Tavon Austin. If Bradford under-performs this season he is out of excuses and the current front office and coaching staff (who are not the one’s who drafted Bradford) will certainly look for alternatives to Bradford rather than giving him a Stafford-esque extension.

  15. teek77 says: Jul 16, 2013 3:49 PM

    This rating is way too high. The Rams will be the true test as to whether a defense can win ball games (by themselves). They let their only decent running back get away to the Falcons. The wide receivers are unproven rookies. The offensive line is weak unless they run or roll to Jake Longs’ side. And, Bradford may be training a new rookie quarterback next year if he doesn’t step to expectations. Regardless, they bottom feeders at best!

  16. mjs2012 says: Jul 16, 2013 3:56 PM

    My guess at 1-16:

    16 – Dolphins
    15 – Bucs
    14 – R*dsk*ns
    13 – Saints
    12 – Steelers
    11 – Giants
    10 – Colts
    09 – Cowboys
    08 – Vikings
    07 – Patriots
    06 – Falcons
    05 – Ravens
    04 – Seahawks
    03 – Packers
    02 – Broncos
    01 – 49ers

  17. glazerh8er says: Jul 16, 2013 3:57 PM

    PS, living in Florida, we have a ton of Jeff Fisher look a likes, it seems like everyone who drives a Corvette around here looks exactly like him. It’s obviously his boyish good looks and NOT his coaching ability that have kept him around for this long.

  18. schmitty2 says: Jul 16, 2013 3:59 PM

    glazerh8er says:Jul 16, 2013 3:14 PM

    The Rams have the most overhyped and overpaid team in the league (no cap space for average team at best). With love, Bucs fan.

    That overhyped and overpaid team laid the beatdown on your Buc’s in week 16 in Tampa if memory serves me correctly.

  19. irishjugalo says: Jul 16, 2013 4:02 PM

    Six spots ahead of the Fins? I’d imagine the “Power Rankings” process involves 32 pieces of paper and a hat.

  20. glazerh8er says: Jul 16, 2013 4:03 PM

    schmitty2 says:
    Jul 16, 2013 3:59 PM
    glazerh8er says:Jul 16, 2013 3:14 PM

    The Rams have the most overhyped and overpaid team in the league (no cap space for average team at best). With love, Bucs fan.

    That overhyped and overpaid team laid the beatdown on your Buc’s in week 16 in Tampa if memory serves me correctly.

    —————————————-

    Out on our team that day: 2 DB’s that started the season for us, our starting left DE, our starting RG and LG. Our secondary was a bunch of guys delivering pizzas a few weeks earlier. Oh yeah, and we have 18Million in cap space to build greatness for years to come.

  21. glazerh8er says: Jul 16, 2013 4:07 PM

    and starting RT. If your team gets hit by the injury bug that hard let me know how you do.

  22. tennesseeoilers says: Jul 16, 2013 4:08 PM

    They say it’s a make or break year for Sam Bradford. Same for our QB Jake Locker. Maybe if neither of them deliver this year, we can do a straight up trade.

    Rams might get the better end of the deal though. After all, we saw how Jeff Fisher mentored the last quarterback with Jake Locker’s gifts (relentless toughness, athleticism, strong arm, lead by example type). … His name was Steve McNair.

  23. followme2boston says: Jul 16, 2013 4:10 PM

    Both the highlight photos for the Rams and Dolphins are of guys crushing the Bills QB. Rooting for the Bills is not for the weak.

  24. illis52 says: Jul 16, 2013 4:14 PM

    Saying the Rams are overrated is short sighted. I’m a die hard Niners fan and I can honestly say I’m more worried about the Rams than the Seachickens.

  25. hehateme2 says: Jul 16, 2013 4:14 PM

    Way, WAY too high for the Lambs. Bradford is still a question mark and Jake Long won’t make it through the season. Good luck with that!

    Fisher hasn’t “done it” for a long time and I say they should be about 6 spots lower.

  26. lasher1650 says: Jul 16, 2013 4:21 PM

    glazerh8er says:
    Jul 16, 2013 4:03 PM
    Out on our team that day: 2 DB’s that started the season for us, our starting left DE, our starting RG and LG. Our secondary was a bunch of guys delivering pizzas a few weeks earlier. Oh yeah, and we have 18Million in cap space to build greatness for years to come.
    __________________________________________________

    “our” and “we” . . . you sound like a moron. Unless you are actually an employee or owner of the franchise you sound far less moronic if you would use proper personal pronouns. However, your posting history would suggest that your self identity is so wrapped up in a sports team you probably aren’t either a) smart enough or b)motivated enough to take the steps to sound less ignorant.

    Also – The Bucs have $18 million in cap space because the broke $&* owner cannot afford to spend to the cap . . . now or in the near future. Enjoy winning the “available salary cap” war, but continuing to field a mediocre (at best) football team on the field.

    Joke of a franchise . . .

  27. schmitty2 says: Jul 16, 2013 4:27 PM

    glazerh8er says:Jul 16, 2013 3:14 PM

    The Rams have the most overhyped and overpaid team in the league (no cap space for average team at best). With love, Bucs fan.

    That overhyped and overpaid team laid the beatdown on your Buc’s in week 16 in Tampa if memory serves me correctly.

    —————————————-

    Out on our team that day: 2 DB’s that started the season for us, our starting left DE, our starting RG and LG. Our secondary was a bunch of guys delivering pizzas a few weeks earlier. Oh yeah, and we have 18Million in cap space to build greatness for years to come.

    glazerh8er says:Jul 16, 2013 4:07 PM

    and starting RT. If your team gets hit by the injury bug that hard let me know how you do

    Quit whining dude. The Rams have had more injuries in the last few years then anyone else. Oh and FYI-injuries to your defense dont matter in a game where your qb throws 4 picks like he did against St Louis.

  28. mungman69 says: Jul 16, 2013 4:32 PM

    AMAZING; The NFC west may be the best division in football. St. Louis may show marked improvement but with Seattle and San Francisco in that division St. Louis comes in third. Out of the playoffs.

  29. glazerh8er says: Jul 16, 2013 4:44 PM

    You guys are awfully sore. I’m sorry for using “improper pronouns” and such. Admittedly, I’m a homer Bucs fan, and I’m glad you have noticed the grammatical tendencies in my posts. I was just bored today and wanted to troll on the Rams ranking because I felt like it and can because I work for myself.

  30. cgsuddeath says: Jul 16, 2013 4:52 PM

    Jul 16, 2013 3:14 PM

    The Rams have the most overhyped and overpaid team in the league (no cap space for average team at best). With love, Bucs fan.
    =================================
    Meanwhile,They kicked your teams collective behind convincing last year.

  31. iced107 says: Jul 16, 2013 4:59 PM

    glazerh8er says:
    Jul 16, 2013 3:14 PM
    The Rams have the most overhyped and overpaid team in the league (no cap space for average team at best). With love, Bucs fan.

    ——————————————————-

    Sounds like envy to me… What was the final score from last season again?

  32. cgsuddeath says: Jul 16, 2013 5:12 PM

    glazerh8er says:Jul 16, 2013 4:03 PM

    schmitty2 says:
    Jul 16, 2013 3:59 PM
    glazerh8er says:Jul 16, 2013 3:14 PM

    The Rams have the most overhyped and overpaid team in the league (no cap space for average team at best). With love, Bucs fan.

    That overhyped and overpaid team laid the beatdown on your Buc’s in week 16 in Tampa if memory serves me correctly.

    —————————————-

    Out on our team that day: 2 DB’s that started the season for us, our starting left DE, our starting RG and LG. Our secondary was a bunch of guys delivering pizzas a few weeks earlier. Oh yeah, and we have 18Million in cap space to build greatness for years to come.
    =================================

    Yeah,yeah, excuses and yet you still got your butts kicked.Class dismissed.

  33. jprcox says: Jul 16, 2013 5:24 PM

    As a Seattle fan I worry more about the Rams then the 49ers. Rams almost beat 49ers twice last year, ended wining 1 and a tie for the other…but only since 49ers came back with some luck.

    If not for a late drive by Wilson we would have lost twice to them. I have no idea why they did so poorly outside the division, but that was more an enigma than statement.

    Mark my words – both Wildcard spots (3 playoff teams) will be from the NFC West.

  34. betterandbetterthan says: Jul 16, 2013 5:54 PM

    Fisher is what, a bit over .500 in his career. Is there a more overrated HC?

  35. rockymountainoysters says: Jul 16, 2013 6:33 PM

    Look out for Rok Watkins to win the starting left guard job over both Williams and Smith. He’s suspended for the first game like Pead but should have an opportunity to seize the job.

    Also, Bradford showed more flashes last year than he ever did his rookie season. His rookie year was the most boring offense I’ve ever seen, 5 yard dink and dime stuff. Last year, he got a few chances to do what he does best – throw the ball deep with accuracy. With Givens coming into Year 2 and the addition of more guys with game breaking speed (Austin, Cook), Bradford should finally look like the #1 pick that he is.

  36. kingpel says: Jul 16, 2013 6:37 PM

    The Bucs fan’s butts are still hurting from Ricky Proehl. Ha-ha. Get over it man!

  37. blederchawkfan says: Jul 16, 2013 7:11 PM

    I can’t wait, honestly. The return to relevance for the RAMS at the same time that they return to Los Angeles.

  38. oldbrowndawg says: Jul 16, 2013 7:16 PM

    Are you guys just throwing darts at a board in determining these rankings? I predict that your ranking the Browns at #31 will turn out to be your biggest embarrassment this season. Watch this talented young team led by two outstanding coordinators and a very innovative head coach. Time for some real egg on your face is rapidly approaching.

  39. phloorioisanarcissist says: Jul 16, 2013 7:17 PM

    Gazerh8er is right ram fans. Way too high for a team lacking an o-line, RB, proven WR, or proven QB. Make any argument you want, those are facts.

  40. rainponcho87 says: Jul 16, 2013 7:46 PM

    As a niners fan, you could tell last year the 49ers were not “up” for their Ram games. They came in with the expectation that they could handle them. Akers had bad games both time and the 49ers could have won both of those had he been a little better. Even so, they really played the 49ers tough. One of the Rams who is now on the 49ers (Craig Dahl) says the Rams could tell pass vs run by certain looks the 49ers gave. Even so, the Rams were surprisingly solid. Unless the Rams fall apart before the 49er games, the niners are going to up for the competition and will expect a battle. One thing the power rankings don’t take into account is just how much parity there is in the league. All teams spend a lot of money on really really great athletes. The difference between #1 and #32 is not a great as the “experts” would have you believe and a lot of games come down to breaks, injuries, coaching etc. I think the Rams will have a very solid year.

  41. sjs5y7 says: Jul 16, 2013 8:20 PM

    phloorioisanarcissist says: Jul 16, 2013 7:17 PM

    Gazerh8er is right ram fans. Way too high for a team lacking an o-line, RB, proven WR, or proven QB. Make any argument you want, those are facts.

    ——————————————————-

    Not saying he’s wrong that the Rams don’t have problems, but you mean to tell me that Josh Freeman throwing 6 TDs with 10 interceptions in the last six games is okay? When you had Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark?! Nuh uh.

    I think the score of their last game is pretty accurate to where they stand next to each other. Both teams have issues, and I actually wish both would be resolved, because I enjoy seeing a good Bucs team giving the Saints and Falcons a fight.

    But it did not seem like a fight when the Rams rolled into town and Lance Kendricks, the slowest TE the Rams had, was allowed to stroll for 80 yards the first play of the 3rd quarter.

  42. cgsuddeath says: Jul 16, 2013 8:56 PM

    betterandbetterthan says: Jul 16, 2013 5:54 PM

    Fisher is what, a bit over .500 in his career. Is there a more overrated HC?

    ==================================
    This from someone who knows nothing about Bud Adams.Talk about misinformed.

  43. channer81 says: Jul 17, 2013 4:45 PM

    Before we jump on the Rams bandwagon, just remember they went 0-4 vs the NFC North, and got wacked at home by the Jets. You could attribute St.Louis’ division record to familiarity, the same reason teams like Miami, no matter how bad they were, always gave NE fits, or the Browns vs B-more etc.

    This is a definitely a jekyll and hyde team, but they can get the QB.

  44. iquityou says: Jul 17, 2013 11:34 PM

    I realize I’m a day late with this comment but to glazerh8er in today’s NFL 18 million in cap space is bad. Next year you have to be at 98% of the cap or pay penalty. I would say Rams have invested in the team they want. Also by my math 17th is in the bottom half of a 32 team league and about ideal for a team that finished barely under .500. The Bucs seem to be on the decline and unused cap space is wasted cap space.

  45. facemask80 says: Jul 27, 2013 4:23 PM

    only time will tell ladies & gents

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