Rams’ roster ranked 7th-best in the NFL by PFF

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The start of the regular season is still a couple of months away, but it’s fairly easy to see already which teams will be in playoff contention and which ones will struggle to be competitive. Rosters have taken shape with the draft and free agency behind us, giving fans an idea of what their teams will look like come September.

The Los Angeles Rams, for one, appear to be legitimate Super Bowl threats in the NFC. On paper, their roster rivals any in the NFL, especially after upgrading at quarterback by trading Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford.

Pro Football Focus’ Ben Linsey ranked every roster in the NFL ahead of the 2021 season and at No. 7 were the Rams, sandwiched between the sixth-ranked Packers and No. 8 Cowboys.

Linsey notes the Rams’ best strength as being Aaron Donald, “the best player in the NFL, regardless of position.” That’s obvious, and Donald’s presence allows the Rams defense to succeed the way it did last season. Without him, the defense wouldn’t be the same.

Linsey’s choice for the team’s biggest weakness is no surprise: inside linebacker. He expects it to be “one of the weaker groups across the league,” with no clear-cut starter at the position. Micah Kiser, Troy Reeder, Kenny Young, Travin Howard and Ernest Jones will all compete for snaps, but there’s no surefire starter among them.

And then there’s the Rams’ x-factor for 2021, which comes down to Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford, of course.

Since Sean McVay took over as the Rams’ head coach in 2017, Los Angeles has had the ninth-most efficient offense in the league, according to expected points added per play. Jared Goff flashed high-end play when things were running smoothly but struggled to improvise and elevate McVay’s offense. The Rams bet two first-round picks that Matthew Stafford can. Stafford graded in the 73rd percentile of qualifying quarterbacks when under pressure last season, while Goff finished in just the 14th percentile.

For the most part, the Rams have quality starters at each position. But it remains to be seen how the combination of Austin Corbett and Bobby Evans will work at center and guard. We also don’t know how David Long Jr., Robert Rochell or Donte Deayon will play as the No. 3 cornerback, nor who will start at outside linebacker opposite Leonard Floyd.

There are questions still to be answered, but training camp will clarify a lot of those uncertainties.

At No. 1 on Linsey’s list are the Buccaneers, followed by the Chiefs, Browns and Bills. The 49ers were ranked 11th, the Seahawks 15th and Arizona 21st, making the Rams the highest-ranked team.