7 questions for the Rams following the 2021 NFL draft

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Cameron DaSilva
·7 min read
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Even after coming away with nine players in the 2021 NFL draft and having a roster filled with top-tier players such as Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, the Los Angeles Rams have a lot of questions to answer this offseason.

Their refusal to address the offensive line has left a hole at center, as well as uncertainty behind Andrew Whitworth at left tackle. Their dedication to building out the deepest receiving corps in the NFL has made some wonder how Stafford will possibly get everyone involved.

The Rams may not have answers to those questions right now, but they will certainly need to find them in the near future. So let’s get into the biggest questions Los Angeles is facing after the draft.

Who will snap the ball to Matthew Stafford?

(AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

This has been the biggest question all offseason and we still don’t have a clear answer to it. Will the Rams go back to Brian Allen? Might they give Coleman Shelton a chance to start? Or, in what’s the likeliest scenario, will Austin Corbett move from guard to center? If it’s the last option with Corbett switching positions, the Rams will have two new starters in 2021: Corbett at center and his replacement at right guard. Assuming Corbett moves, Bobby Evans is a candidate to play next to him at right guard, as is Tremayne Anchrum and even Chandler Brewer. Regardless, the decision at center will have a ripple effect, which is the result of Les Snead and Sean McVay passing on the top offensive linemen in the draft. They might have painted themselves into a corner, needing to find new starters at two positions instead of just one.

How will the Rams utilize all of their receivers?

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

After signing DeSean Jackson to join Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson, the Rams went out and added even more firepower at wide receiver. They drafted Tutu Atwell at No. 57 overall, then tight end/wide receiver Jacob Harris on the fourth round, and finally Ben Skowronek in the seventh. Harris will primarily play tight end and Skowronek has to make the team first, which leaves five capable receivers atop the depth chart. With only one football, the Rams might find it challenging to get everyone involved. How much will Jefferson play in Year 2 with Jackson and Atwell pushing him for snaps? Will Jackson be able to hold off Atwell as the team’s deep threat and speed option? And with all of these new receivers joining the mix, will the Rams limit the snaps of Kupp and Woods to not only keep them fresh, but get everyone involved? There’s a lot still to be determined with the Rams’ receiving corps.

Who will be the No. 2 tight end behind Tyler Higbee?

(AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

The Rams drafted Brycen Hopkins in the fourth round last year despite already having Gerald Everett as the TE2 behind Higbee. He was a pending free agent, so the move made sense. But their selection of Harris on the Round 4 this year complicates things. Is the 6-foot-5 prospect going to leapfrog Hopkins and Johnny Mundt as the No. 2 tight end, and is his addition a sign that the team is down on Hopkins after a quiet rookie year? Or will Hopkins hold off the rookie, given how slow the transition can be for tight ends coming from college to the NFL? Regardless, the Rams use a lot of 11 personnel with just one tight end on the field, so Higbee will still get the majority of the snaps. But in 2022, there could be a change coming at the position with Higbee’s contract getting easier to move on from and plenty of young talent behind him.

Who will return punts and kicks?

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

It’s become fairly clear the Rams aren’t sold on Nsimba Webster maintaining his role as the primary return specialist. New special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis suggested the team needs a player who can “drop the ball over the goal line,” which Webster has been unable to do. They drafted Atwell, who doesn’t have much return experience but has plenty of speed and quickness for the role. They also added Jake Funk, who’s a special teams … specialist. After the draft, they signed Landen Akers (14 kick returns for 293 yards) and Jeremiah Haydel (687 total return yards in 2020), both of whom could compete for a role in the return game. They also have Raymond Calais as a kick returner, too, so there’s no lack of options on special teams for DeCamillis. It’s just a matter of finding who’s both reliable and explosive.

Who will be the odd man out at inside linebacker?

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

As difficult as it is to tell who will be the starting center, it’s equally tough to project the inside linebacker spot. Micah Kiser, Troy Reeder and Kenny Young are all returning, while the Rams are also welcoming rookie Ernest Jones and Travin Howard to the mix as potential starters. Christian Rozeboom and Derrick Moncrief are wild cards, too, after going undrafted last year. It’s not completely unreasonable to say all six of those players are candidates to at least play meaningful snaps in 2021. It’s also possible that any of them (except Jones) could be cut before the season begins. Right now, I'm projecting that Jones takes over for Kiser as the Mike linebacker, leading the middle of the defense, and he’ll be joined by Howard as the weakside linebacker who’s more responsible for coverage and ranging sideline to sideline. But really, there are a number of possible combinations.

How will the defensive line rotation shake out?

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis )

As of now, Aaron Donald, Sebastian Joseph-Day and A’Shawn Robinson are projected to be the starters up front. Joseph-Day will probably remain the nose tackle with Robinson in Michael Brockers’ spot at defensive end, but they both can play either position. In the draft, the Rams added Bobby Brown III and Earnest Brown IV. Bobby Brown can play all three defensive line spots, while Brown figures to play the Morgan Fox role as a situational pass rusher from either defensive end or outside linebacker. Then there’s Greg Gaines and a whole host of former undrafted free agents, a group that includes Jonah Williams, Marquise Copeland, Eric Banks and Michael Hoecht. The Rams have plenty of depth but not a lot of proven talent behind Donald, Joseph-Day and Robinson, so expect a fairly deep rotation so that they can get at least five guys involved.

Is Andrew Whitworth’s successor already on the roster?

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

This is a big question and one the Rams still may not have an answer to. Joe Noteboom, David Edwards, Evans and Anchrum all played tackle in college and could be in consideration to take over for Whitworth after he retires. Anchrum and Edwards are the least likely candidates in that group, but they shouldn’t be ruled out. The Rams didn’t take an offensive tackle in the draft, which suggests they probably feel good about the tackles they’ve drafted in recent years – as well as undrafted rookie Alaric Jackson, who started 42 games at left tackle in college. Whitworth could technically stick around through the 2022 season as he has two years left on his contract, but retirement after this season is possible. They might be able to wait until next year to draft his heir, but in an ideal world, that player is already on the roster – like Noteboom or Evans.

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