Projecting St. Louis Rams' Depth Chart After Peak of Free Agency

Steven GerwelContributor IIIMarch 30, 2014

Projecting St. Louis Rams' Depth Chart After Peak of Free Agency

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    Tony Avelar

    As you may recall, I predicted the St. Louis Ramsstarting lineup just recently, but this article will focus on the entire depth chart. 

    Not to mention, a number of changes have occurred since the last article. The Rams signed free-agent quarterback Shaun Hill, cornerback Greg Reid and defensive tackle Alex Carrington, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN

    Also, the last article plugged Henry Melton into the starting lineup (he was visiting with St. Louis at the time), but the All-Pro defensive tackle ultimately signed with the Dallas Cowboys, according to Todd Archer of ESPN, so that's another update that needs to be made. 

    The previous article also had the Rams pursuing Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins with the No. 2 pick in the draft. Since we already explored that option, this article will go in a different direction. 

    With that, here is my depth chart prediction for St. Louis in 2014. Let me know in the comments section if you think this roster can compete in the NFC West. 

Quarterback

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    Eric Gay

    Starter: Sam Bradford

    Backup: Shaun Hill

    Third String: Austin Davis

     

    The quarterback position requires no explanation this season—Sam Bradford will start, Hill will be No. 2 and Austin Davis will be No. 3. 

    With the signing of Hill, the Rams now have no reason to pursue a quarterback in the second or third round of the upcoming draft. So if you were praying for Johnny Football to drop, it's time to let that dream die. 

    Bradford will be back, and this is his final chance.  

Running Back

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    Tom Gannam

    Starter: Zac Stacy

    No. 2 Back: Benny Cunningham

    Depth: Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Chase Reynolds

     

    Zac Stacy was shockingly productive as a mid-round rookie last season. He rushed for 973 yards—more than any rookie fifth-round back since the 1970 merger—and scored eight total touchdowns. 

    Not only did he exceed expectations, but he was likely the most valuable player on offense for St. Louis last year. 

    Benny Cunningham also flashed potential and will be a solid No. 2 moving forward. It will likely be a 70-30 split between Stacy and Cunningham in 2014. 

    Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead are both in the doghouse. It would be a shock if either player exceeds 50 carries in 2014 unless there's an injury to Stacy or Cunningham. 

Wide Receiver

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    Michael Conroy

    Wide Out: Jordan Matthews 

    Slot: Tavon Austin

    Flanker: Chris Givens

    Depth: Stedman Bailey, Brian Quick, Austin Pettis

     

    This will surely ignite negative feedback from the Watkins supporters, but drafting a receiver other than Watkins is a possibility that needs to be discussed. 

    Watkins is likely the only receiver worth drafting in the top 15, but grabbing Jordan Matthews in Round 2 is not exactly something to cry about. 

    Matthews had a terrific combine and was an excellent player in college. He was Vanderbilt's best player on offense and remained productive every week despite facing stout SEC defenses. 

    Matthews has what it takes to produce immediately in the NFL and eventually become a Pro Bowl receiver. He's that good.

    If drafting Matthews means the end of Brian Quick, then so be it. I don't necessarily think that's the case (I believe there's room for both), but it'd be foolish to pass on a good player in hopes that Quick will someday be an adequate receiver. 

    General manager Les Snead seems content with Quick. But would he really tell us if he was ready to move on? There's no upside to revealing his intentions. 

    Matthews gives Bradford a legitimate No. 1 receiver and only costs the team a second-round pick (in this scenario). Combined with the always-electric Tavon Austin and the dangerous Chris Givens, the Rams will be fielding a competitive aerial attack. 

    Also, Stedman Bailey flashed some serious potential in 2013. He'll provide a decent amount of production in a limited role. 

Tight End

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    Mike McGinnis

    Receiving Tight End: Jared Cook

    Blocking/Utility Tight End: Lance Kendricks

    Backup: Cory Harkey

     

    Jared Cook had a nice year with 671 yards and five scores. He was inconsistent, and doesn't receive proper credit as a result, but he'll be a key member of the offense once again in 2014. 

    Lance Kendricks got off to a sloppy start after being injured for the majority of training camp, but he'll play a larger role in 2014. His primary role will be as a run-blocker, but he'll make plays with his hands as well. 

    Cory Harkey had six receptions in the final three games of 2013 and is beginning to flash some ability, so it'll be interesting to see how he develops. If he has a solid campaign, the Rams will be free to let Kendricks walk in free agency following the 2014 season. 

Offensive Line

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    Hal Yeager

    Tackles: Jake Long (Left), Joe Barksdale (Right)

    Guard: Greg Robinson (Left), Rodger Saffold (Right)

    Center: Scott Wells

    Backup: Tim Barnes, Barrett Jones, Brandon Washington, Mike Person, Sean Hooey

     

    In this scenario, the Rams use the No. 2 overall pick on monster tackle Greg Robinson out of Auburn. 

    Robinson is the team's future at left tackle after another year or two of Jake Long, and it's possible he'll even start the season at left tackle if Long is not completely healthy (though Rodger Saffold is another candidate). 

    Even if Robinson starts his career at left guard, that's no reason to pass on him. After all, Hall of Fame tackle Jonathan Ogden started his career at guard as well, and I don't think Baltimore regrets drafting him No. 4 overall in 1996. 

    Drafting Robinson not only gives the Rams a future franchise left tackle, but it also addresses the more immediate need at left guard. With Robinson added to the mix, there's not a single weak spot up front. 

    With these five linemen paving the way, Stacy will post Pro Bowl numbers on the ground. 

Defensive Line

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    Marco Garcia

    Defensive End: Robert Quinn, Chris Long

    Defensive Tackle: Michael Brockers, Kendall Langford

    Depth: William Hayes, Eugene Sims, Alex Carrington, Jermelle Cudjo

     

    The 2014 defensive line will be basically the same as the 2013 line, unless the Rams surprise everyone by drafting South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney. 

    Robert Quinn and Chris Long will be the best 4-3 defensive end duo in the NFL and will likely combine for about 30 sacks. 

    Michael Brockers is entering his third year and is on the verge of a breakout year. If Brockers can take that next step, the Rams have a shot at fielding the best defensive line in all of football next season. 

Linebacker

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    Mike McGinnis

    Middle Linebacker: James Laurinaitis

    Outside Linebacker: Alec Ogletree, Ray-Ray Armstrong

    Depth: Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Daren Bates, Sammy Brown

     

    Linebacker James Laurinaitis will quarterback the defense once again, but second-year pros Alec Ogletree and Ray-Ray Armstrong will be the playmakers of the unit. 

    Ogletree has a nose for the ball, while Armstrong is a head-hunter. With these two lined up outside, the linebackers will be fun to watch in 2014. 

    The Rams will also have solid depth with veteran Jo-Lonn Dunbar and second-year pro Daren Bates. 

Defensive Back

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    Sue Ogrocki

    Cornerback: Janoris Jenkins, Justin Gilbert, Trumaine Johnson

    Safety: T.J. McDonald, Terrence Brooks 

    Depth: Greg Reid, Brandon McGee, Rodney McLeod, Cody Davis

     

    The Rams add a duo of rookies to the starting lineup in this scenario with No. 13 overall draft pick Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State) and third-round free safety Terrence Brooks (Florida State). 

    Safety is a major need for the Rams, so some will inevitably feel that waiting until the third round to grab Brooks is a major risk. But safety was just as big a need last year, and the team didn't pursue a safety until the third round. 

    The team also showed no urgency when it came to retaining veteran safety Quintin Mikell following the 2012 season. Based on St. Louis' behavior, it appears that the team just doesn't value safeties as much as other teams. 

    That could all change with Gregg Williams, who depended heavily on safeties in New Orleans, but as of now, the team has yet to fret over the lack of talent up top. 

    As for Gilbert, he's a legitimate No. 1 corner. With Gilbert, Jenkins and Johnson, the Rams will have an extremely young and talented group of corners to build around. 

    Overall, this secondary is loaded with youth. The unit will commit mental errors in 2014, but the level of talent will be undeniable. 

Special Teams

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    Tom Gannam

    Kicker: Greg Zuerlein

    Punter: Johnny Hekker

    Long Snapper: Jake McQuaide 

     

    Greg Zuerlein is already one of the best kickers in the league after just two seasons, and Johnny Hekker made the Pro Bowl in 2013. 

    If the rest of the team fails in 2014, the Rams can take solace in the fact that they can kick the ball better than any team in the league. 

     

    Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams' game-day correspondent. You can find more of Gerwel's work by visiting his writer profile or by following him on Twitter.