The NFL draft is over. Free agency is over. We are now in the clear, with nothing really big planned until, you know, football actually begins. For the Los Angeles Rams, it's a chance to come up for air after one of the most eventful offseasons in league history.
Still, there are plenty of questions facing this team as we trudge toward the summer and wait for training camp to start. That's what we're here for in the weekly Twitter mailbag. As always, you can find me on Twitter @nwagoner or shoot me questions at any time using #Ramsmail.
Let's get to your questions:
— cocoon (@lemonjii) May 26, 2016
@nwagoner: I like this question but I want to flesh it out a bit. This is actually a good time to sit down and take stock of the way the Rams have approached the offseason in each of the years that coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead have been around. They've now navigated their way through five offseasons, and each of those offseasons has had a different personality. The first two years, they knew they had a depleted roster and wanted to build through the draft while also spending money on free agents in order to make the Rams competitive sooner than later. They did that by making the trade with Washington as well as spending big money on the likes of Jared Cook, Jake Long, Scott Wells, Kendall Langford and Cortland Finnegan.
But right around the time the Rams began running out of extra draft capital from the Washington trade, they decided to stop spending on big outside free agents. It was a wise decision given how the others had worked out and it allowed them flexibility in the future to begin signing their own young players who were developing.
Finally, you got to this year, which was the first offseason in which the Rams really had a number of key players that they had to re-sign. They lost some, kept others and it was very similar to previous years. But the one big noticeable change this year was the Rams' decision to stray from their build-through-the-draft ethos. They traded a bunch of draft picks to move up for quarterback Jared Goff. It was understandable in the sense that the Rams simply have been too mediocre to be in a position to land a top quarterback, but it was also disappointing in the sense that it prevented the Rams from bolstering other positions. And make no mistake, the Rams are more than just one player away from being a true contender unless Goff proves to be a supernova soon. As I've written many times, if Goff pans out, it was absolutely worth it. But there's more of a gamble this time around than there was in other years. Many analytics experts believe that the more draft picks you use, the better your chances to hit on them. The Rams opted to go all-in hoping that one pick can be the final piece to their puzzle. Again, an understandable risk but also one outside of their previous philosophy. That's what happens when you go four years without a winning season, let alone a playoff berth.
— Derek Quinn (@TheDerekQuinn) May 19, 2016
@nwagoner: It's awfully hard to project how anyone is going to develop at this point without seeing them on the field. We'll get a small taste of it later this week when the Rams open organized team activities. But especially for these undrafted rookies, we won't know much until we get into training camp. With that said, I have talked to a few people in the Rams organization about this topic and there have been a few names that have popped up. The Rams are high on some of the receivers they brought in as rookie free agents, specifically the likes of Paul McRoberts, Nelson Spruce, Marquez North and Duke Williams. They hope that at least one of those players can show enough to stick around. Beyond that, a few other names to file away are safety Brian Randolph, cornerback Jabriel Washington, offensive lineman Jordan Swindle and running back Aaron Green. My way-too-early pick to emerge is Randolph (though again, it's way too early to project). His combination of ability on special teams and track record in the SEC plus the team's need at safety would seem to make him a contender for a roster spot. But let's also be clear: The "biggest impact" from this group probably isn't going to mean starting and playing a lot right away.