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Preseason Power Rankings No. 20: St. Louis Rams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v St Louis Rams Getty Images

The St. Louis Rams were a trendy pick to possibly make a push for the playoffs last season. A 1-3 start to the season put the Rams in a hole and losing Sam Bradford for the year after seven games was the final nail in the coffin to their playoff aspirations.

But the Rams could take positives out of last year’s performances. Their defense became a nightmare to opposing quarterbacks as Chris Long and Robert Quinn led a scary defensive front and Zac Stacy showed promise as a possible replacement for Steven Jackson.

Unfortunately for St. Louis, they find themselves at the bottom of the best division in the NFL.The Rams added 11 draft picks to their roster as the continue to retool their talent under head coach Jeff Fisher. What are the prospects for the upcoming season? We take a look at the roster below as training camp approaches.

Strengths.

St. Louis may have the best defensive front in all of football. With Chris Long and Robert Quinn combining for 27.5 sacks last season and Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald manning the interior, the Rams will be a handful for any offensive line their square off against. In addition, the Rams still have depth along their front with Kendall Langford, Eugene Sims and William Hayes as rotational players.

James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree give the Rams a nice pair of linebackers they can rely on. Also, Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks are a dependable tight end pair.

Greg Zuerlein and Johnny Hekker provide a strong duo of specialists as well for St. Louis.

Weaknesses.

While the Rams defense proved fearsome at times last season, there were still a could problem areas on that side of the ball. Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Will Witherspoon struggled at times at the strong-side linebacker spot. In addition, Darian Stewart and Rodney McLeod had issues at safety after T.J. McDonald suffered a broken leg and was placed on the short-term injured reserve list. Those areas remain question marks heading into training camp.

St. Louis is still lacking a true No. 1 option at receiver and depth in their secondary as well.

Changes.

Cortland Finnegan was released by the Rams over the offseason, which elevated Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson into the presumed starting roles ahead of training camp. Johnson could get pushed for his starting job by rookie Lamarcus Joyner, but Joyner may be best suited in the slot.

First-round selections Greg Robinson and Aaron Donald both should slot into the starting lineup on each side of the ball. Robinson is slated to replace the departed Chris Williams at left guard with Donald supplanting Kendall Langford at defensive tackle.

Camp battles.

Most of the major position battles should come on the defensive side of the ball for the Rams. Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Ray-Ray Armstrong will battle for the third linebacker position, Trumaine Johnson could be pushed by second-round pick Lamarcus Joyner for the starting job opposite Janoris Jenkins at cornerback and Rodney McLeod could be challenged by fourth-round pick Mo Alexander at safety.

On the offensive side of the ball, the receiver position seems to be wide open. Tavon Austin’s role is secure as caught more passes than any other St. Louis receiver last year.. However, the Rams have a gaggle of receiving options behind Austin without much separation between them. Chris Givens likely enters camp as the team’s top option on the perimeter after leading the receiving corps with 569 yards last year. Kenny Britt, Austin Pettis, Stedman Bailey and Brian Quick all will be vying for playing time as well.

In addition, Isaiah Pead and third-round pick Tre Mason will likely battle for the backup role to starter Zac Stacy at running back.

Prospects.

The Rams sit looking up at the best division in football. Seattle and San Francisco met in the NFC Championship game last season and the Arizona Cardinals were playing as well as anyone at the end of the regular season.

St. Louis faces the real possibility of being an improved team but still not seeing much improvement in their overall record.

Sam Bradford is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The Rams could take a bigger leap than anticipated if Bradford can finally take the step forward in proving he can be one of the league’s better signal callers. Bradford was completing nearly 61 percent of his passes and had posted a 14-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio before his season ended due to injury.

The Rams keep taking baby steps in their quest to improve from their decade of futility. However, they’ll need more than baby steps of improvement to run down the teams at the top of their division.

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56 Responses to “Preseason Power Rankings No. 20: St. Louis Rams”
  1. stevew5 says: Jul 13, 2014 9:14 AM

    Several good drafts after the Washington trade are going to have an effect, eventually. Being a Sooner, I’d love to see Sam come through like his teammates Peterson and McCoy. Go Rams!

  2. orthomarine says: Jul 13, 2014 9:22 AM

    Funniest ranking yet

  3. therealtrenches says: Jul 13, 2014 9:43 AM

    After all these extra picks, shouldn’t Fisher’s seat officially get hot if they wind up being the 20th best team in the NFL?

  4. yate3097 says: Jul 13, 2014 9:46 AM

    People who do not know the first thing about the team should not write these rankings.

    Darian Stewart was not the Rams FS after McDonald broke his leg. He only played 24 snaps in all of 2013-14 and they were all in week 17 against the Seahawks.

  5. tennesseeoilers says: Jul 13, 2014 9:46 AM

    As a Titans fan, I would never bet against Jeff Fisher.

  6. bassplucker says: Jul 13, 2014 9:47 AM

    That Rams DL is sick. Aaron Donald going to St. Louis was the last thing the rest of the NFC West wanted, believe me.

    I want to say the Rams are poised to make noise if San Fran or Arizona falter… but knowing Sam Bradford is still their QB puts a ceiling on my expectations for them regardless.

  7. radioactivechimp says: Jul 13, 2014 9:49 AM

    They’re not gonna win the division anytime soon, but if Bradford is healthy all year, they should be a decent team.

    One thing’s for sure: They should have a pretty ferocious pass rush especially with the addition of Aaron Donald.

  8. kehav1 says: Jul 13, 2014 9:56 AM

    Rams had so many chances to draft great players with redskins’ picks yet they failed to do so( as of yet). Jeff Fisher is overrated, people put him in the same category as Andy Reid which is utterly moronic. The only pro about Fisher is his experience as a HC. Although I am rooting for Bradford this year

  9. thefiesty1 says: Jul 13, 2014 10:01 AM

    Bradford is injury prone and this makes this ranking bogus. And their draft choices this year are suspect. Should be somewhere around 25 th to 28 th.

  10. revelation123 says: Jul 13, 2014 10:08 AM

    TBH the #21 Lions are better than the #20 Rams.

  11. ajgreenhof says: Jul 13, 2014 10:11 AM

    Not enough firepower on offense.

  12. moeman79 says: Jul 13, 2014 10:15 AM

    This team is looking good, if young players step up they will be a huge threat.

  13. udontknowjaq says: Jul 13, 2014 10:18 AM

    I would of expected the Jets in this spot, But i guess that’s all Divisions covered…

  14. jimatmad says: Jul 13, 2014 10:26 AM

    Strong d-line, good enough quarterback, excellent coach. That can be a winning combination.

    If they were in another division they would be ranked higher.

  15. elliottcovert says: Jul 13, 2014 10:36 AM

    I think this is too low. They may not finish with a stellar record because they’re in easily the toughest division in the league, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the 20th best team in the NFL. If the Rams were in, say, the NFC East instead of the West, they might have made a couple of playoff runs in the Bradford era already.

    That pass rush is going to be downright scary, and I harbor no illusions that my Vikings will beat them in week one this season.

  16. garyridgway says: Jul 13, 2014 10:42 AM

    They might be better than the Cardinals this year and take 3rd in the division. Cardinals lost their top 2 LB’ers and most of their star players are on the wrong side of 30. But than again Sam Bradford will probably get hurt again so I wouldn’t count on anything

  17. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 13, 2014 10:50 AM

    where the H are the JETS…?

    I realize the Jets record gets inflated due to AFC East and AFC games but come on…. no way Jets beat Rams, Redskins, Lions….. no freaking way…

    call the AFC what it is…. this is supposed to be worst teams, not worst records

  18. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 13, 2014 10:58 AM

    the AFC needs to be weighted differently to balance records, largely from playing each other, with strength of team

    to not have the Jets among the 5 worst is hard to justify… other than Buffalo, Miami and several other AFC teams are probably worse..

  19. largent80100 says: Jul 13, 2014 11:00 AM

    Rams are set to improve with those tons of draft picks.

    But I bet Bradford’s mediocre play will hold them again, he is the worst kind of QB, not bad enough to get dumped like Ponder, Gabbert or Locker after this year, not good enough to put the team on playoff contention like Luck, Wilson or even Foles and RG3 if they aren’t flukes, not to mention his toxic contract.

    Rams won’t wait him to reach free agency in 2016, will cut him loose with his 17 million cap hit.

    8-8 is my prediction.

  20. scottd65 says: Jul 13, 2014 11:01 AM

    This is a complete and utter joke. Whoever ranked the Rams at #20 should have their NFL card REVOKED. The NFC West will be a very tight race this year. It was only 2 years ago the Rams went 4-1-1 in the division with a much worse team than they have now.

  21. bullcharger says: Jul 13, 2014 11:03 AM

    That could be a bit low for this team. That would mean a 7-9 record most likely. I think they could squeeze into a wild card.

  22. khen17 says: Jul 13, 2014 11:05 AM

    Rams will be much higher than 20. They are easily better than the Cardinals, who are very overrated. I am not saying the Rams should be top 10, but I was thinking more like 13-16 area. This is a much improved team with nowhere to go but up.

  23. thebirdofprey2 says: Jul 13, 2014 11:21 AM

    As a Seahawk fan out of all other teams in NFC West this St. Louis team scares me the most because of that defensive front. If Sam Bradford gets protection plus Zac Stacey and Tre Mason are rolling there is no way this isn’t a top 10-12 team. They were 20th last year with Kellen Clemons as QB.

  24. ctiggs says: Jul 13, 2014 11:24 AM

    As long as the lambs employee. BustFord the are not going any where #goniners #nobodyhasitbetter

  25. ponderrrrisnotaprobowler says: Jul 13, 2014 11:27 AM

    Bradford sucks and Fisher has always been an overrated mediocre coach. One good season (1999) should not allow for a lifetime reputation.

  26. labucs says: Jul 13, 2014 11:34 AM

    I would have loved been a fly on the wall during the Mon Night Game Rams vs Bucs,.

    Warren Sapp yawned, skipped through the OL and bouncing Marshall Faulk to the ground like a basket ball.

    Seriously-Good Game to all- we are 2 of 4 teams projected to improve and make the big show

  27. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 13, 2014 11:47 AM

    just as Jets overvalued due to weak division, Rams are undervalued due to strong division

    does anyone really think the Jets are better than the Rams?… Anyone?

  28. rsduce says: Jul 13, 2014 12:31 PM

    As a seahawks fan, they are the team that scares me the most out of any other team in the nfc west. #Nfc best

  29. lnfinite says: Jul 13, 2014 12:34 PM

    Often injured team and seldom winning any games..

  30. smarshall3789 says: Jul 13, 2014 1:12 PM

    Someone tell me how this team is ranked higher then the Lions. The Rams have a qb who is made of glass and can’t prove himself not sayin Stafford has much but at least he’s thrown for 5000 yards and 4000 yards! I guess PFT doesn’t know what they are talking about the only weakness the Lions have is the cb position

  31. Vim says: Jul 13, 2014 1:19 PM

    This Rams team is scary good and all they need is for one thing to fall in place for them to become contenders. That of course is consistent and good QB play through the full season from Sam Bradford. If they get this, then they can easily contend for the division title against the other 3 strong teams in the NFCW.

    If there wasn’t any question mark about the QB play, the Rams would certainly have been ranked in the top 15 and the early season positioning would have slated them for a playoff berth. So it is all up to you, Sam Bradford! You have a great OL, an absolutely fantastic DL, and a nice quartet of receivers to go with a solid if not spectacular rushing attack.

    I am a Seattle native, and definitely rooting for the home team Seahawks, but would not be surprised at all if the Rams made a lot of noise in the NFCW.

  32. 1phd says: Jul 13, 2014 1:20 PM

    As long as the un-dynamic duo of Fisher and Bradford are there, it’s just gonna be more of the same.

  33. deafcone says: Jul 13, 2014 1:21 PM

    as soon as they realize bradford stinks and move on they’ll improve on offense.

  34. seatownballers says: Jul 13, 2014 1:22 PM

    What is to fear about the rams? Honestly, , they stink. Every year they have a top ten pick, and continue to always come in last place. Yea, their d line is full of talent but they failed again to draft a player that can score against the nfc west. Last place coming again.
    It’s beginning to look like skins won in that trade

  35. pittsburghdamned says: Jul 13, 2014 1:31 PM

    Unless you have an inside scoop that Bradford will be dumped before the season, this ranking is wishful thinking. I expect more of the same from a QB who never looks anything but lost & confused.

  36. damoore2013 says: Jul 13, 2014 1:33 PM

    The Rams have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. With that everyone forgets the addition of Greg Williams as D.C. he has said that this is one of the best tooled defenses he has had. Look out QB’s. Who needs a bounty gate.

  37. ubepunkedagain says: Jul 13, 2014 1:37 PM

    With Bradford and Fisher they will always just be a mediocre team that no one pays attention to. Heck, even their own fans don’t care about them as evident by their 31st ranked attendance.

  38. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Jul 13, 2014 1:47 PM

    On paper they should be much better but they just aren’t. For now, the Rams are big under achievers and this ranking may be a little on the high side.

  39. computojon says: Jul 13, 2014 2:21 PM

    Ram Predictions by the Experts:

    Last place NFC West
    Losers’ culture and mindset
    Overrated coach
    One of the worst teams in the league

    Oh wait… those predictions were for the 1999 season.

  40. 4thquartermagic says: Jul 13, 2014 2:23 PM

    Truth is Bradford is only the QB right now because he got 58 million guaranteed.

    If he was on a rookie scale deal he would’ve exhausted his chances by now.

    Broncos fan here but I respect the talent they got over there. Sadly Bradford is what is holding this team back.

  41. seahawkboymike says: Jul 13, 2014 3:19 PM

    8-8. Average QB, average receivers, below average OL, average RB’s, above average DL, average LB’s, waaaaay below average secondary.

    8-8.

  42. mcduece says: Jul 13, 2014 4:13 PM

    I still think Sam is better than most people think. The recieving corps DROPS more than they catch. Sam puts the ball in the spot, he cannot catch it for them. Wr’s must step up for RAMS. this season for them to reach play-offs. If not, then same mediocre team as before.

  43. youpeopleareallthesame says: Jul 13, 2014 4:15 PM

    This ranking seems kinda low. They’re at the bottom of the NFCW because Seattle, San Fran, and Arizona are in the division. I’m not saying they’re a top half team, but I could name teams that are way worse than them.

    At least the Vikings aren’t ranking higher.

  44. fballguy says: Jul 13, 2014 7:47 PM

    The Seahawks, Niners and Cardinals are tough…But the Rams record against them is 5-2-1 in the last 8 games Bradford has started. I’ll concede nothing at this point.

  45. stonedolphin89 says: Jul 13, 2014 10:16 PM

    I don’t get this ranking at all. It’s even stated several times in the article that they play in easily the toughest division in the NFL against 3 teams good enough to appear in the playoffs.

    Bradford alone is a reason to knock them down several spots. The guy is never, ever healthy. Anyone that watches a Rams game fears the worst any time he gets taken to the ground. And that doesn’t even address the fact that he’s only mediocre at best when he IS healthy. And his WR’s and TE’s certainly leave something to be desired. The only bright spot on that entire offensive unit is Stacy pounding the rock and the nice addition of Trey Mason as a legitimate change of pace back and playmaker.

    The Rams defense is pretty solid. That’s a fact. Great D-line and one of the better young corners in the back with a solid LB core. But the Seahawks and 49ers prove every year that you need more than that. You need a QB that knows how to lead, even if that doesn’t mean throwing 50 TD’s every year. You need to be able to SCORE for the defense to have anything to defend in the 1st place. This is a #25 team at best, especially in the NFC West.

  46. bong815 says: Jul 13, 2014 11:34 PM

    What wasn’t addressed in this article is what the Rams will do when Bradford is injured – and he will be.

  47. seahawkhuskyfan says: Jul 14, 2014 1:12 AM

    As a Hawks fan this team scares me. This defense is going to just destroy teams.

  48. rams1999 says: Jul 14, 2014 1:12 AM

    kehav1 says:Jul 13, 2014 9:56 AMRams had so many chances to draft great players with redskins’ picks yet they failed to do so( as of yet). Jeff Fisher is overrated, people put him in the same category as Andy Reid which is utterly moronic. The only pro about Fisher is his experience as a HC. Although I am rooting for Bradford this year.
    ————–
    Really? Do some detailed research. Rams robbed the Skins like no one else has since Saints traded for R. Williams Redskins got RGIII. That’s it. Michael Vick w/o the ignorance. Rams bagged up many picks that led to more picks and icing on cake was the #2 pick this year which allowed us to draft A. Donald. You’re obviously a Redskin fan. You need to really research info by detail before comment which shows not much thinking. Very simple.

  49. sportsbastard says: Jul 14, 2014 3:06 AM

    The Rams would beat the brakes off of the Colts in Indy last season, pretty sure they’re much higher than #20.

  50. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 14, 2014 7:58 AM

    have to think the Rams would be among the SB favs if playing in the AFC

    solid team w/ strong upside

  51. ramsfan80 says: Jul 14, 2014 10:02 AM

    orthomarine absolutely correct. As a huge rams fan this ranking is a joke. The rams have been “poised” to make a run for 10 years now. Theyve been WAY TOO cheap to go out and get a #1 WR for years now and the offensive line has been atrocious. Absolutely awful for years. When will the fans learn they are not “poised” for anything. And correct me if Im wrong but were dealing with a QB who hasnt won more than 7 games in a season. How can they be poised for antying?

  52. garyhd01 says: Jul 14, 2014 12:42 PM

    here is what i don’t get. the rams are being rated as the 20th best team in part because of the strength of their division losing to sf and sea as well as az is not reason enough to down grade them IMO they may ber the 4th best team in the division but the 12-14th best team overall in the league that makes sense to me. if they said the rams would have the 20th best record i would understand. what would the rams 31 game record be if the were to face each team in the league my guess is they would go around 18-13 higher than the middle 16-17 therefore around 12-14 that seems sensible to me as a way to truly evaluate the teams ranking!!

  53. superman2352 says: Jul 14, 2014 1:52 PM

    FYI, Bradford has played more games in his first 4 seasons than Matt Stafford did. He’s had 2 seasons playing all 16 games and 2 injury seasons. But Bradford has never had half of the WR talent of a guy like Megatron.

  54. stonedolphin89 says: Jul 14, 2014 2:16 PM

    Stafford isn’t exactly a world-beater either. Not the guy i would want to be drawing comparisons with to my own QB.

  55. jayovalentine says: Jul 18, 2014 12:46 AM

    A former #1 overall pick… injury prone and average = bust ! I love the Rams but you have to stop making excuses for Bradford and face it. He is not worth that much $. Look at Kaepernick, Wilson and even Carson Palmer in the NFCW. Bradford can’t conpare and is an injury prone version of Jason Campbell.

  56. stlhammer58 says: Jul 20, 2014 4:53 PM

    This analysis seems real enough, but I still see a definite Playoff team here. If Sam Bradford is healthy and at the OTAs he looked that way, the 14-4 td to intercept ratio will only improve. Tavon, Quick, givens, Britt and the unknown, TJ Moe (Wes Welker clone), will give Radford a serious receiving core. With Tre Mason backing up Zac Stacy, Fish will have a true balanced offense for Bradford to orchestrate.

    As for the defense, now that Gregg Williams is actually the Defensive coordinator, improvement on all defensive areas will be seen. Expect the Rams to be attacking and attacking some more. The D-Backs will have to step up at the corners, but they have shown they are capable. Safety with McDonald healthy, lets just say they will hit everything that moves.

    The Rams have the best duo for punter and kicker in the league and Zuerline has shown what a long distance weapon he truly is.

    10-6 will get them in the playoffs and that is reachable, particularly witht he Rams winning all their home games in the NFC West.

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