NFL St Louis Rams

Predicting St. Louis Rams’ 53-Man Roster in 2013

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Prediction of St. Louis Rams' 53-Man Roster in 2013

Mark J. Rebilas- USA Today Sports

The St. Louis Rams are on the verge of becoming a contender in the NFL. Their 7-8-1 record (yes, they tied the San Francisco 49ers) was not good enough to make the playoffs in 2012, but they made dramatic improvements. Head coach Jeff Fisher is a defensive-minded coach, and his team reflects that. However, they need to improve on offense if they want to make the playoffs this season.

There is, however, one major problem facing the Rams; they are in a division with two of the best teams in the NFL. Most NFL Power Rankings have both the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers somewhere near the top. Both teams are young, talented and could be a roadblock to the Rams for years to come. Is it possible for the three teams from the same division to make the playoffs? Of course. It’s just difficult to do when they beat up on each other throughout the regular season.

In order to take the next step, the Rams need more from Sam Bradford. He’s been solid early in his career, but hasn’t proven to be worthy of the number one overall pick. Some of that is not his fault. The Rams need to get him more weapons and give him a chance to become the star that most thought he would be. In the 2013 NFL Draft, the Rams did the best they could by trading up to obtain West Virginia speedster Tavon Austin. He could be the perfect slot receiver in St. Louis, giving Bradford a guy he can trust when the pocket breaks down.

Austin wasn’t the only big addition to the Rams roster for 2013. Here’s a look at what could be their 53 man roster for next season.

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Quarterbacks (3)

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Sam Bradford, Austin Davis, Kellen Clemens

Bradford is clearly the starter and could see dramatic improvements in 2013. He should have an improved offensive line with the addition of Jake Long, and Austin could be a difficult match-up working the middle of the field. They will be breaking in a new running back, so more might be asked of Bradford and the passing game.

Davis and Clemens are two solid options as back-ups, but I think by the end of the summer Davis will secure the number two spot.

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Running Backs (4)

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Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy, Terrance Ganaway

It will be weird for Ram fans to see their team without Steven Jackson in the backfield. He was the workhorse for the franchise for years and will be missed. However, they could have two capable replacements in Richardson and Pead. Richardson ran for 475 yards and four touchdowns on only 98 carries. He also had a respectable 24 catches out of the backfield as well. Pead was a second round pick a year ago, but didn’t get much of an opportunity to produce.

Stacy and Ganaway will provide depth, and reports are that the Rams are high on Stacy.

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Wide Receivers and Tight Ends (6 and 3)

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Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Austin Pettis, Emory Blake

This unit needs to be much better in 2013. Austin could be a dynamic player in the slot operating against linebackers and safeties. Expect Austin to receive the lions share of the targets this season. Givens led the Rams in receiving last year with 698 yards on 42 catches.

Quick has been a disappointment considering he was the 33rd overall pick in the draft a year ago. He only caught 11 balls and will need to step up in order to help replace Brandon Gibson. Bailey could also emerge as a reliable possession receiver thanks to his route running ability. He was as productive of a receiver as anyone in college football the past few years.

Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, Cory Harkey

Free agent signee Jared Cook could become a threat working the middle of the field for Bradford. He showed very nice athleticism for the Tennessee Titans and could work in tandem with Austin between the hashes. Kendricks hasn’t emerged as a star like some thought he might, but he’s been solid, catching 42 passes for over 500 yards last year.

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Offensive Line (10)

Mark J. Rebilas-USA Today Sports

Jake Long, Rokevious Watkins, Scott Wells, Harvey Dahl, Rodger Saffold, Chris Williams, Joe Barksdale, Brandon Washington, Shelley Smith, Barrett Jones

The addition of Jake Long should help a running game that will be without Steven Jackson, who left in free agency. Saffold will have to move to right tackle to accommodate Long, but that shouldn’t be much of a concern. What is concerning is the health of both Saffold and Wells, who have missed significant time recently.

The Rams might have drafted Jones in order to provide depth across the board for an injury-prone line. He played tackle, guard and even center while at Alabama. He’s smart, tough and can fill in wherever he’s needed.

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Defensive Line (8)

Tim Heitman-USA Today Sports

Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Kendall Langford, Eugene Sims, Mason Brodine, Matt Conrath, Jermelle Cudjo

Long is a bonafide pass rusher, ending 2012 with 11.5 sacks. Quinn completes the bookend and provided an additional 10.5 sack last season. Both wreak havoc on opposing tackles and can get to the QB in passing situations. Inside, the Rams were much better with Brockers on the field. He’s physical inside and can require opponents to double team him at times.

The Rams front four are a huge reason why they improved significantly last year. They take up blocks, allow the linebackers to run and can help the defensive backs out by pressuring the quarterback

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Linebackers (7)

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James Laurinaitis, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Alec Ogletree, Josh Hull, Jonathan Stewart, Jabara Williams, Sammy Brown

Laurinaitis and Dunbar were tackling machines in 2012, combining for 257 stops. Although not tremendous athletes, both possess great instincts and can find the ball. First round pick Ogletree will be the athletic LB the Rams have been looking for. A converted safety, he plays with the same speed and explosiveness that he did while playing on the back end. The three give the Rams one of the better LB corps in the league.

They don’t have much experience beyond Laurinaitis and Dunbar, but they do have some talented options. Expect the reserves to play a significant role on special teams and play well if given the opportunity.

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Defensive Backs (9)

Robert Mayer-US Presswire

Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins, T.J. McDonald, Darian Stewart, Trumaine Johnson, Brandon McGee, Quinton Pointer, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Matt Daniels

Finnegan and Jenkins are two outstanding playmakers at corner. Both can cover and have a propensity for creating turnovers. Jenkins intercepted four passes last year and returned three of them for touchdowns. Safety was a major concern heading into the draft, and the Rams tried to address that with McDonald out of USC. Although he struggled at times in coverage, he was a willing tackler from the safety spot.

Johnson looked good at times last year, and will be a nice nickel back option for the Rams in 2013. This unit was solid last year, but could benefit from improved play at the safety spots.

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Special Teams (3)

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Greg Zuerlein, Johnny Hekker, Jake McQuaide

Zuerlein burst onto the scene in 2012, drilling field goals from 50 plus. However, he struggled near the end of the year, missing eight of his last 18 kicks. Hekker was a respectable punter, averaging 45.8 yards per kick.