The official offseason may have just begun for the NFL, but it is never too early for sports analysts to begin posting their 2018 Power Rankings. Below is a roundup of the first predictions for how the Rams will stack up this season:
"The Rams will retain most of the NFL's top-scoring offense but could have some work cut out if they can't keep their defense together. Connor Barwin, Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner and Nickell Robey-Coleman will all be free agents, and all four ranked in the top nine in snaps played among Rams defenders."
"Sean McVay, Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley and Jared Goff is a pretty good core group, and there should be hope in LA this young team is just scratching the surface."
"From a 4-12 record and seven straight losses to close the season to 11-5 and the team's first winning campaign and division title since 2003. In his first year at the helm, Sean McVay won NFL Coach of the Year honors as the team finished first in the league in scoring (478) one year after totaling an NFL-low 224 points in '16. Second-year quarterback Jared Goff came into his own and the team featured both the offensive and defensive players of the year in running back Todd Gurley and interior force Aaron Donald. While Wade Phillips' defense had its moments, it didn't totally adjust to the coach's 3-4 scheme."
2017 Turning Point:
"After a surprising 7-2 start, McVay's club was manhandled by the eventual NFC North champion Vikings at Minnesota. But Goff, Gurley and company returned home and put an end to the New Orleans Saints' eight-game winning streak courtesy of an impressive 26-20 victory."
"For all intents and purposes, the Rams are in fantastic shape heading into the NFL Scouting Combine, having just pulled off the NFL Honors triple crown. The front office has plenty of cap space with which to fill voids in what could be a challenging follow-up act for Coach of the Year Sean McVay. Aaron Donald will have a much easier time repeating as Defensive Player of the Year if Los Angeles can retain corners Nickell Robey-Coleman and Trumaine Johnson in the secondary. Also set to hit free agency: receiver Sammy Watkins. Maybe he didn't enjoy Todd Gurley-like productivity, but that doesn't mean the former Clemson speedster wasn't impactful. Defenses have to respect him vertically, and for all the reliability of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, they don't scare defensive coordinators. Before we go, Gurley winning Offensive Player of the Year was awesome. Mainly because he was awesome. His labors in the passing game, where he averaged more yards per catch and caught more touchdowns than any other running back, deserve more praise than a simple sentence here."
"The Rams had the Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and the Coach of the Year in 2017 as the biggest surprise story in the league. While that turnaround was capped off with a division title, it didn't translate to postseason success. The team is still young and growing and will be an NFC contender once again in 2018 even if the league will figure out the Rams a bit more instead of taking teams by surprise like they did last year."