With free agency and the NFL Draft behind us the 2018 Los Angeles Rams roster is coming more into focus. Here is one way to frame it and the corresponding expectations (recently rising to No. 2 in the most recent NFL.com Power Rankings):
QB: You would expect Jared Goff to continue to make strides entering Year 3, benefiting from system continuity for the first time since leaving Cal, in particular. He'll also have far more practice time to sync up with Brandin Cooks than he did with Sammy Watkins a year ago.
RB: While it may be unrealistic to project Todd Gurley to be as statistically productive as his MVP-worthy 2017, he's in his prime and in an offense tailored to his strengths. Malcolm Brown has proven to be a serviceable backup, and sixth-round pick John Kelly fortifies the group.
WR: Even if you don't view Cooks as an upgrade over Watkins, he's more than an adequate replacement and will have a better grasp of the offense than the late arrival from Buffalo did last summer. Robert Woods is coming off a career year and might be the most underrated target in the NFL. Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds are well-positioned to grow in their sophomore campaigns.
TE: Given their talent, youth, coaching, and perhaps a healthy Temarrick Hemingway, the Rams assuredly will get better results from their tight end room.
OL: The entire group returns intact for a second year in the system, under the mentorship of Aaron Kromer, and is bolstered by the Rams top two draft selections. It also doesn't hurt that Rodger Saffold, Jamon Brown, and Rob Havenstein should be motivated by imminent free agency.
DL: Take the defensive MVP, Aaron Donald; add one of his few position peers, Ndamukong Suh; get Michael Brockers and Dom Easley healthy; layer in depth acquired through the two most recent Drafts. This is the strongest defensive line in the NFL, hands down.
S: Depth may have taken a bit of a hit at safety, but Lamarcus Joyner is elite and John Johnson is poised to build off a sensational rookie effort.
CB: What was the Rams’ biggest concern following the 2017 season became one of the biggest strengths in the NFL heading into 2018. Lock Angeles.
OLB: Is it possible that Samson Ebukam, Matt Longacre, and Obo Okoronkwo prove to be more productive than Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin? The Rams believe it's possible, based on their maneuvering. And few defensive coordinators get better results from edge defenders than Wade Phillips.
ILB: Similarly, there's a viable case to be made that the Rams can improve inside, having traded Alec Ogletree, retained Mark Barron, acquired Ramik Wilson, and drafted Micah Kiser. The theme of this offseason has been completing the process of matching defensive personnel to Phillips' system. It may not prove to be as simple as they've made it look on paper, but... I wouldn't expect regression at linebacker, put it that way.
SPTMs: Though it may be difficult to match their three special teams touchdowns from 2017, a Pro Bowl unit has established an elite track record with Bones Fassel. Greg Zuerlein's back injury would be the only question mark here.