The 2021 NFL season is on the horizon, and few divisions are as intriguing entering the new year as the NFC West. The reigning champion Seahawks are under some pressure to perform with Russell Wilson potentially open to a future change of scenery. The 49ers are healthier and have a fresh long-term option under center in Trey Lance. The Cardinals might be entering a make-or-break year for Kliff Kingsbury. The Rams, meanwhile, might be the most intriguing of the bunch after swapping out Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford and aiming for their second Super Bowl appearance in three years.
What's new and what's familiar about Los Angeles entering 2021? Here's a full rundown of their depth chart heading into OTAs and training camp, including projected Week 1 starters at every position on both sides of the ball:
Note: Asterisks denote rookies.
Tremayne Anchrum Jr.
On paper, you're not going to find many teams with more exciting offensive lineups. Stafford might be getting a touch too much leeway going into 2021 considering he's been more good than great in recent years, but there's no doubt a move from Detroit to L.A. should serve him well. At the least, he's a clear upgrade on Jared Goff, offering more toughness in the pocket and more consistent arm talent. The skill positions are even better: Akers and Henderson are a solid high-upside duo, while Woods and Kupp make up one of the game's top 1-2 WR punches. Jackson can't be counted on to stay healthy, but if he and/or Atwell show up, we're talking about one of the NFL's most explosive pass-catching corps.
The offensive line is also solid on paper, but it's clearly the biggest question mark on this side of the ball. Whitworth and Havenstein are reliable bookends at the top of their game, but the former will be 40 in December and missed almost half the season in 2020. Should he go down, Stafford could be in for a much tougher season than anticipated. Both Edwards and Corbett have flashed on the interior, but Allen hasn't exactly lit the world on fire when in the starting lineup, and he's replacing the departed Austin Blythe. To be clear, the offense as a whole is a plus, and especially so under the guidance of Sean McVay, but if you're looking for potential flare-ups, you probably want to start up front.
Earnest Brown IV*
|NT||Bobby Brown III*|
David Long Jr.
The Rams' biggest change on "D" belongs on the coaching staff, which lost Brandon Staley to a head-coaching gig across town with the Chargers and promoted Raheem Morris, the former Buccaneers coach and Falcons interim, to take his place. Morris has the wherewithal to do the job, and his personnel is largely unchanged from 2020, too. Michael Brockers was the biggest departure from the D-line, and Troy Hill fled the secondary for a nice deal with the Browns, but the team's depth in the trenches should offset the loss of Brockers. More so, as long as Donald is on the field, the Rams are going to have a feisty front.
It's debatable whether L.A. should've rewarded Floyd so lucratively with an extension considering he's got just one top-end season under his belt, so their pass-rushing depth leaves a little to be desired. And Hill may very well be missed at corner, where the Rams are banking on a rookie Rochell providing immediate help behind stud starters Ramsey and Williams. But there are too many really good pieces, starting with Donald and the top cover men, to be too critical of this unit as a whole.