Los Angeles Rams: Projecting the 2021 Starters Before Training Camp

by Alexis Kraft
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Before the season, most fans usually have an idea of what the Los Angeles Rams depth chart is going to look like. There might be a few surprised like Jordan Fuller becoming a starter last season. However, outside of a few position battles, we have a relative idea of what the depth chart will look like.

If you know me, you know I’m big on pre-football-season predictions. One of the most debated topics among fans, is their teams’ depth chart. This is usually most discussed before the season, and then solidified a few weeks after a season starts.

A few things factor into my predictions. For starters, I can confidently say that guys like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey will start this year. Guys who have dominated their position and have had a good track record over the past couple seasons are easy choices.

Another thing, is team depth. There are a few players who I think start based simply on lack of depth at their position.  It’s also important to not that I will be using the full Rams training camp roster. I’ll likely do an update depth chart once the 53-man roster is released.

Quarterback

Matthew Stafford, John Wolford, Bryce Perkins, Devlin Hodges 

This is probably the least controversial of positions. Matthew Stafford is the only choice for the Los Angeles Rams starting quarterback. The Rams gave up a lot for Stafford because they believe in him to bring the Rams a championship. He stands out vastly among the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster, due to talent and experience.

John Wolford is a very easy choice for QB2 on the Rams roster. He has the most familiarity with Coach McVay out of all the rostered quarterbacks. We also know from last season that his style of play is similar to what McVay wants.

Perkins also is familiar with the system, and is a guy who the Rams are high on within the organization. This is why I think he is behind Wolford. 

Running Back

Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Raymond Calais, Jake Funk, Xavier Jones, Otis Anderson

Unlike last year, I don’t believe that the Rams run a running-back-by-committee. With the loss of Malcom Brown, there isn’t obvious third running back for the Rams. The Rams will instead likely run a dual-style running back system with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson.

Last season both Akers and Henderson dealt with their share of injuries. Early in the season it was Akers while Henderson dealt with an ankle injury at the end of the year. Keeping both guys fresh will be important.

The addition of Matthew Stafford will also help open things up in the run game. Akers faced 8-man boxes on 37% of his carries last season. That won’t be the case with Stafford. The new Rams quarterback has had just 11 100-yard rushers in his career. With Akers and Henderson, the Rams running back duo will be able to help the Rams quarterback as much as he helps them.

*Editor’s Note: This article was written prior to Cam Akers tearing his Achilles*

Wide Receivers

Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Van Jefferson, DeSean Jackson, TuTu Atwell, Nsimba Webster, Ben Skowrenek, Trishton Jackson, JJ Koski, Landon Akers, Jeremiah Haydel

The wide receiver breakdown might a little murky. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are the obvious top-two receivers on the roster. However, after drafting Van Jefferson last season in the second round, he will take over as the third receiver on the roster.

The Los Angeles Rams signed DeSean Jackson in the offseason and I see him being used as a fourth receiver/deep threat. Rookie TuTu Atwell will most likely see some action, but mostly on special teams during his rookie season. I also think rookie Ben Skowrenek will be brought in for certain red zone situations.

The rest of the receivers on the roster are either special teams players, like Webster and Jackson, or in jeopardy of being cut when the 530-man roster is decided. 

Tight End

Tyler Higbee, Johnny Mundt, Brycen Hopkins, Jacob Harris, Kendall Blanton

The tight end position for the Los Angeles Rams is somewhat confusing right now. Tyler Higbee is very obviously the top tight end. However, behind him is where things get confusing.

Some might question Johnny Mundt projected in front of 2020 draft pick Brycen Hopkins and 2021 draft pick Jacob Harris. This decision was honestly based solely off experience. However, there are some doubts about Brycen Hopkins.

It is a little suspicious that the Rams went out and drafted Jacob Harris this year after drafting Hopkins last year. Hopkins also didn’t see any playing time last season but could have this year with Gerald Everett leaving in free agency.

This season is going to be very telling about Brycen Hopkins. Should the Rams not like what they see from him, expect for Jacob Harris to jump ahead of him on the depth chart. 

Left Tackle

Andrew Whitworth, Joseph Noteboom, Alaric Jackson, Max Pircher

It should be no surprise that Big Whit is the projected starter at left tackle. He is the most talented tackle on the roster, even though he is 39 years old. Whitworth made some comments on  Chris Long’s podcast that lead fans to believe that he is planning on retiring after this season.

“So this year, to me, it feels like this is it. This is like, I’ve put everything into trying to play this season and play at the level I want to. I feel like this will probably be the end, but I mean, all my closest friends would tell you that I’ve said that for about seven straight years. So I don’t know how believable that is, but it feels like it is.”

Joseph Noteboom is the obvious back-up left tackle for that reason and based on talent alone. Noteboom did fill in well for Whitworth last season. Because of this, I believe that the Rams are curious if Notebook could be Whitworth’s replacement. Look out of Noteboom to take some reps this season if Whitworth need’s a break or the Rams want to see some play from him.

Left Guard 

David Edwards, Chandler Brewer, Jamil Demby

While David Edwards is probably the obvious choice for the starter at left guard, some might be surprised that I have Chandler Brewer backing him up over Jamil Demby. Edwards should continue to improve. He was a top-20 guard last season and ranked No. 4 among the 2019 draft class.

I  am higher on Brewer than most, and think that if he is forced to compete with Demby, he will come out on top. He appears slightly more solid to me, and Demby has struggled in the past.

Center

Brian Allen, Jordan Meredith 

If you listen to the Downtown Rams podcast, you know that I have been very concerned about the center position for the Rams. This is especially concerning considering that the Rams passed on Creed Humphrey during the draft.

The Los Angeles Rams are lacking a true center. Brian Allen played center in college, and I suspect he will just fine. He got starting experience in 2019 and will look to improve this season after spending last season injured.

The lack of depth here is very concerning. If Allen can stay healthy,  he should be able to get the job done. 

Right Guard

Austin Corbett, Coleman Shelton

This is another position where I am weary of the lack of depth. Again, if you listen to our podcast, you are probably tired of hearing me stress out about our depth at offensive line.

Corbett is a solid guard, and hopefully he can stay healthy. The Rams traded for Corbett two years ago from the Cleveland Browns and he has been a great addition. I don’t have a lot of optimism about Coleman Shelton as his replacement.

Right Tackle

Rob Havenstein, Bobby Evans, Tremayne Anchrum, Max Pircher

It might sound strange, but this is the one position on the offensive line where there isn’t a lot of concern with depth. Bobby Evans is the most solid back-up offensive lineman on the Rams. Should anything happen to Havenstein, Evans can get the job done at right tackle.

Treymayne Anchrum is also solid, and the Rams could try moving Anchrum inside at guard position at some point. 

Defensive End

A’Shawn Robinson, Earnest Brown IV, Jonah Williams

As far as we know, the Los Angeles Rams are going to stick with a 3-4 scheme  this upcoming season. A’Shawn Robinson has a lot to prove this year. He spent most of last year on the non-football injury list. However, he is the obvious choice to start over rookie Earnest Brown IV.

However, the Rams are high on Brown. He should be used on a rotational basis this upcoming season and grow into a larger role.

Nose Tackle

Sebastian Joseph-Day, Greg Gaines, Marquise Copeland, George Silvanic

While I wouldn’t say Sebastian Joseph-Day is used exactly as a nose tackle, I’m calling him one for the purpose of this article. We’ve seen signifiant improvement and potential emerge from Joseph-Day since last season, and he’s shown that he pairs nicely alongside Aaron Donald. 

Behind Joseph-Day is Greg Gaines. The Rams drafted Gaines in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He provided solid depth.

Defensive Tackle

Aaron Donald, Bobby Brown III, Eric Banks, Michael Hoecht

Aaron Donald is the most obvious starter on this team. He will get the majority of reps at defensive tackle and Raheem Morris could move him all over the defensive line.

However, watch out for Bobby Brown III. It’s uncertain if Brown will be used as a defensive tackle or nose tackle, but for now, I project him backing up Donald as defensive tackle. 

Outside Linebacker

Leonard Floyd, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Terrell Lewis, Chris Garrett, Justin Lawler, Christian Rozeboom, Derrick Moncrief, Maximillan Roberts, John Daka

While I project that Leonard Floyd and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo to be the starters at outside linebacker, the Rams will likely work to involve Terrell Lewis. Lewis dealt with injuries last season, but the Rams will want to give him a chance to prove himself. The former Alabama edge rusher has a lot of talent, but his biggest concern has been his health.

Inside Linebacker

Troy Reeder, Micah Kiser, Justin Hollins, Ernest Jones, Kenny Young, Travin Howard, Christian Rozeboom

This might be the most debated position among Rams fans in terms of starters. I have Troy Reeder and Micah Kiser getting the starting nods at inside linebacker. Reeder has played solid for the most part at inside linebacker for the Rams. He also has the most experience in a starting role.

The Los Angeles Rams really like Kiser, even though he has been injured quite a bit. This upcoming season will be a major “prove it year” for Kiser. With rookie Ernest Jones in waiting, Kiser needs to have a big year. Jones could still see quite a bit of action at linebacker as well. It would not be surprising to see Jones takes over for Kiser before mid-season. 

Strong Safety

Terrell Burgess, Taylor Rapp, JR Reed, Paris Ford, Kareem Orr

Terrell Burgess may be coming off an injury, but he should still get the start at strong safety. However, he could rotate along with Taylor Rapp. While I have Rapp listed as a starting strong safety, he could actually used more as pseudo-linebacker as he excels near the line of scrimmage.

Free Safety

Jordan Fuller, Nick Scott, JuJu Hughes, Jake Gervase, Jovan Grant, Troy Warner

Jordan Fuller impressed Rams fans last season after dominating the free safety position. Therefore, it’s no surprise that he gets the start here. Expect Nick Scott to see some action from time-to-time as well at safety. 

Cornerback

Jalen Ramsey, Darious Williams, Robert Rochell, Donte Deayon, David Long, Brontae Harris, Dayan Lake

Like Donald, it’s an absolute no brainer to predict that Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams start at cornerback for the Rams. However, I do think rookie Robert Rochell is the next man in line. Expect to see some action from him in certain situations as well.

I believe the Rams are a little skeptical of David Long. He might see less playing time than some fans expect barring an injury to the players above him.

Punter: Johnny Hekker, Corey Bojorquez, Brandon Wright

….duh.

Kicker

Matt Gay, Austin MacGinnis

We still appreciate Matt Gay for saving us from the Sam Sloman nightmare.

Long Snapper

Steve Wirtel, Matt Orzech

It feels weird to not be writing Jake McQuaide’s name here, but I have faith in Steve Wirtzel!

Punt/Kick Returner

Nsimba Webster, Tutu Atwell

I expect both Nsimba Webster and TuTu Atwell to get shares of the return game. 

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