Naming the ten players that could push the Los Angeles Rams to Super Bowl 54 shouldn’t be hard, right? This team went to the Super Bowl less than six months ago, so these players should be cut and dry. Well, it’s not that simple.
These ten players below are winners, they are battle-tested, and all have an impact on the game. Narrowing the list down to just ten is the problem. The Rams have built a lasting contender, and their culture shock within the organization has players playing at the top of their games.
Todd Gurley/Running Backs
Drafting Darrell Henderson Jr. in the 2019 NFL draft was a bold move for the Rams to take this offseason. With questions flying about Todd Gurley’s knee, this running back core could be the key to a free-flowing offense. Gurley, Henderson, and Malcolm Brown could prove lethal, or they could prove to be a letdown.
Everybody knows what a healthy Todd Gurley can do, and we have seen Malcolm Brown perform in a backup role. However, both players are coming off of seasons in which they dealt with an injury.
Henderson is the real wildcard in this group. His breakaway speed proved to be the difference at Memphis and he was touted by many as a top-two running back in the draft. Three backs, three above-average talents, and one former-MVP candidate – this group is the engine of the Rams’ offense.
CB Marcus Peters
Marcus Peters had a down year in 2019. His first half of the season was underwhelming, to say the least. In weeks 1-9, he allowed an average passer rating of 145.2 and allowed over 3 yards per coverage snap, ranking near the bottom of the league in both categories. Near the end of the season though, Peters stepped up his game, raising his stats in those categories to a 45.1 passer rating allowed and .61 yards given up per coverage snap, according to Pro Football Focus.
After the bye-week, Peters became a lockdown corner once again, and with Aqib Talib aging quickly, they’ll need him to play his best for 16 games. If he can do that, he can be an important piece to improving this defense and get back to the big game.
S Eric Weddle
Weddle is savvy veteran talent who replaces LaMarcus Joyner at the safety spot alongside John Johnson III. The former Baltimore Raven will add veteran pedigree to a secondary that already has an experienced captain in Talib. Last year when Talib went out with an ankle injury, the Rams secondary took a hit. With Weddle coming into the fold, he adds another on-field coach and will most definitely improve on Joyner’s disappointing 2018 season. Weddle will be the safety valve on defense, and is another player to lean on when things go awry – something last year’s team didn’t have.
LB Micah Kiser
Micah Kiser could be the key to the Rams’ defensive success or failure in 2019. The young linebacker out of Virginia has the potential to start at one of the inside linebacker spots, and he’s shown in preseason that he has the tackling ability to get it done.
The Rams weren’t afraid to start a young player in Cory Littleton at inside linebacker last year, and he outperformed his expectations. Wade Phillips drafted Kiser and let him ride the bench while he watched Littleton and veteran linebacker, Mark Barron. With a year under his belt, Kiser will be the favorite to start.
OG Joseph Noteboom
Noteboom’s skill and role in the 2019 season shouldn’t be underplayed. Andrew Whitworth returned, but Noteboom will be taking over for Rodger Saffold at left guard. Saffold has been an anchor on the offensive line and Noteboom will need to take over that role.
Noteboom will have a key role in keeping Goff upright and paving way in the run game. The second-year player will be playing next to the presumptive starting center Brian Allen. The Rams’ offensive line is a rock-solid group, but faces questions in 2019.
DE Aaron Donald
The most dominant player on the Rams and the NFL will be an important piece on any team. Donald has been dominant his entire career and has been a key component as he has taken that next level over last two. The two-time defensive player of the year changes an aspect of games.
Donald was the best player on the Rams and is one of a handful of defensive players that could have a shot at league MVP. He’s one of the most important pieces on this Rams team.
C Brian Allen
Center is one of the most critical positions on the offensive line. Last year, John Sullivan carried the load and was the quarterback of the Rams’ offensive line. Despite his level in play dropping, that IQ was still valuable. This upcoming year, Allen will take Sullivan’s spot and will be asked to carry the load. Allen is 23-years old and will be making his first starts. As mentioned earlier, the Rams have questions on the offensive line, and it starts with Allen. He will be asked to be the stabilizer, Goff’s best friend, and the captain of the offensive line.
LT Andrew Whitworth
Whitworth has proven to be the best-left tackle that the Rams have had since Orlando Pace. The Rams left tackle is going into what will be his last NFL season. Many speculated after losing in the Super Bowl that he would walk away from the game, but instead, Whitworth will return to the Rams.
His return means more to the Rams than any move they made during the offseason. If Whitworth didn’t return, the complexion of the Rams offensive line would be different. Noteboom would move to left tackle, and the Rams could have possibly brought back Saffold in free agency.
With Whitworth being penciled in at left tackle, he jump-started the plan to fortify and fill the offensive line with youth and gave the Rams another year with an All-Pro talent at left tackle. The blindside protector of Goff will no-doubt be a cog in the Rams offensive line this year.
LB Cory Littleton
Cory Littleton came into the 2018 season a mystery, and ended the season as a worthy leader in the middle of the pack defensively. He proved to be a dependable tackler and defender in coverage.
Littleton is essential because of his impact on the whole defense with his play. He controls the game between the lines and is the eyes on the field for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Much like Goff on the other side of the ball, Littleton is a young leader who has had his share of off games in the league and has Pro Bowl potential.
Next season, both starting inside linebackers for the Los Angeles Rams will be under twenty-six years of age. Can Kiser and Littleton prove worthy to lead the Rams’ defense on to their Super Bowl quest, or will their age turn out to be a weakness? That’s why they’re so essential, the mysteries on defense could end up being the key to a championship.
QB Jared Goff
An NFL team’s quarterback is the most valuable player on the field, and Jared Goff is no exception. Goff is the essential piece to win a championship. At his best, Goff is a pro-bowl talent who is one of the most precise quarterbacks in the league. However, at his worst, Goff is an inexperienced, hurried, above-average player who needs a great supporting cast to win.
He has high highs and very low lows. Last year, his games against the Vikings and against the Bears displayed those opposites.
The Rams are one of the most talented rosters in the league, and Goff has taken steps the last two years as a leader of such a roster. In his third year under McVay, Goff should improve again. His lows will show their ugly faces less-often, and this will lead to wins. If Goff doesn’t improve, the roster will be able to carry him, but a Super Bowl could be out of reach.