The Los Angeles Rams find themselves in a bit of a pickle. It’s a good problem to have, but a real slippery wicket nonetheless.
The problem they have is they have too much good talent to fit onto their final 53-man roster. They have scouted and developed so well that the Rams roster is busting at the seams with late-round drafted and even undrafted talent.
The bad part is they will have to part with some of that talent. But how they pick and choose who they waive/release will affect who they keep on their 16-man practice squad.
As predictions are known as the lowest form of journalism, here is my Rams roster projection. (There is a difference, right?)
Quarterback – 3
Starter: Matthew Stafford
Depth: Bryce Perkins, John Wolford
This isn’t the biggest pickle the Rams find themselves in, but it does serve as a lynchpin in many bigger debates. Bryce Perkins is a dynamic and exciting player. Period. That is true. If waived there is no doubt that he would be picked up by another team via the waiver wire. This was true even after last year’s preseason.
What wasn’t true last season is the amount of talent at other positions. Keeping a third quarterback forces the Rams roster to be one short at another position.
The Rams top priority for their backup quarterback is to run the scout team offense against the first-string defense. Sean McVay has been clear that John Wolford excels in this role. Wolford is a more accurate passer than Perkins and is mobile enough to allow him to simulate multiple different types of quarterbacks.
Perkins looked much better in the preseason exclusively because of how foul the Rams offensive line was. The teams allowed 47 quarterback pressures and 10 sacks in three preseason games. Only a quarterback with Perkins mobility could have succeeded.
That certainly brings upside to keeping Perkins over Wolford, but the downside is Perkin’s inaccuracy can’t simulate even a moderately accurate NFL pocket passer. Which severely limits his worth as the sole scout team quarterback.
The case to keep both would be the number of games the Rams play against teams with VERY mobile quarterbacks. They have two games against Kyler Murray, and two against Trey Lance, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Josh Allen. Plus two games against quality mobile QBs, Dak Prescott and Justin Herbert.
If keeping Perkins tips the needle in some of those games, it will be well worth keeping both.
Rams Roster Running Back – 4
Starters: Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson
Depth: Kyren Williams, Jake Funk
Possible Practice Squad: Raymond Calais, Trey Ragas
The biggest question at running back will be the overall health of the group. All of the backs have missed time for the last 12 months due to injury. Raymond Calais and Trey Ragas were the team’s best backs in the preseason and also have a good chance of surviving waiver wires. Making them good bets for making the practice squad.
Running Back is an injury-prone position so stashing warm bodies is a wise decision. Also, given the value placed on backs in the league, finding a veteran through trade or in free agency is still an option if one of the top backs goes down.
Kyren Williams may factor into the offense more than most expect. He’s a good blocker and offers a lot in the passing game as well. The Rams brass broke a long-standing tradition and traded up to get him in the draft. Yes. They traded UP for a running back. That says a lot about what they think Williams brings to the table.
Rams Roster Wide Receiver – 8
Starters: Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, Van Jefferson
Depth: Ben Skowronek, Tutu Atwell, Brandon Powell, Jacob Harris, Lance McCutcheon
The Rams basically have to keep eight receivers. McVay loves toys to play with and so many of these depth pieces have unique and interesting talents. Teams typically only keep six receivers on their roster. With this talent level and how potent the McVay/Stafford offense has already been, it is time to open the throttle and see just how crazy it can be.
Rams Roster Tight End – 2
Starter: Tyler Higbee
Depth: Brycen Hopkins
Possible Practice Squad: Roger Carter
The Rams waived Kendall Blanton earlier this month signaling their first move toward accommodating eight receivers and/or three quarterbacks. He was immediately claimed by Washington.
Of course, having three tight ends on the Rams roster saved the Rams tails in the Super Bowl after both Blanton and Tyler Higbee were injured.
Roger Carter will serve as a decoy third tight end that they will likely try to slip through the waiver wire. Carter was only targeted twice on the 78 snaps he played in the preseason. This kept him off the radar of teams. He was also a key contributor on special teams.
Rams Roster Offensive Line – 8
Starters: Joe Noteboom, David Edwards, Brian Allen, Coleman Shelton, Rob Havenstein
Depth: AJ Jackson, Tremayne Anchrum, AJ Arcuri
Possible Practice Squad: Chandler Brewer/ Jeremiah Kolone
The Rams have typically kept nine linemen on the roster and McVay has kept the door open to nine, but also has eluded to keeping eight. Keeping nine would affect the math at running back or quarterback. Generally, the offense and defense split 50 roster spots evenly, but I wouldn’t put it past McVay to pull from the defense to ensure the overall Rams roster he wants on offense.
The season-ending injury to Logan Bruss helps the overall number, but the interior depth leaves a lot to be desired in his absence. Tremayne Anchrum is the lone true guard in this particular Rams roster arrangement. AJ Jackson played both inside and at tackle during the preseason but played all his college ball at tackle. AJ Arcuri’s snaps all came at tackle in the preseason but moved around during training camp.
Bobby Evans is on the last year of his contract and has had a rather severe fall from grace since playing over 400 snaps in his rookie season of 2019. He will likely be cut.
If the Rams want to keep eight linemen they will have to gamble with Chandler Brewer on the waiver wire. He won’t be the most sought-after asset post cuts, but a guard-hungry team will see the work the Rams have done with him over the last three seasons.
Jeremiah Kolone scored the second-best grade from PFF of any Rams lineman during the preseason. He is also a center. The Rams center depth chart at the start of the season could read Brian Allen, Coleman Shelton, and that’s it. It will be easier for Kolone to slip through waivers to the practice squad than Brewer.
Rams Roster Defensive Line – 6
Starters: Aaron Donald, Greg Gaines, A’Shawn Robinson
Depth: Marquise Copeland, Michael Hoecht, Jonah Williams
The conspicuous names missing from the list are two draft picks from 2021. Earnest and Bobby Brown (the IV and III respectively) Bobby, of course, is serving a PED suspension and is concurrently nursing an ankle injury. The six-game suspension will likely outlast the injury by several weeks.
Earnest on the other hand has failed to impress through camp and the preseason. He will likely see his second consecutive year on the practice squad.
Upon his return, Bobby will likely replace Marquise Copeland, Michael Hoecht, or Jonah Williams on the 53-man roster. Shortly before leaving the Chargers game he was tearing up the Chargers offensive line and also had an impressive training camp.
Rams Roster Outside Linebacker – 5
Starters: Leonard Floyd, Justin Hollins
Depth: Terrell Lewis, Chris Garrett, Daniel Hardy
Possible Practice Squad: Keir Thomas/ Benton Whitley
In terms of the top four, edge rushers have been set for months. Daniel Hardy quickly joined to round out the top five. But when it comes to the developmental talent, the Rams roster currently has some very intriguing talent to try to keep in the building.
Keir Thomas will be hard to keep. He posted 8 total pressures, 7 resulting in quarterback hurries. He also dropped into coverage 10 times (most among OLBs on the team) and was only targeted once. That versatility is what the Rams look for at the position. Benton Whitley managed four pressures but also proved to be a quality member of the special teams.
Edge rushers are highly coveted around the league, so talent is recognized and scooped up. Thomas’ fate may be a foregone conclusion.
Rams Roster Inside Linebacker – 3
Starters: Bobby Wagner, Ernest Jones
Depth: Christian Rozeboom
Possible Practice Squad: Jake Gervase/ Jake Hummel
It’s been a while since I could say this, but the Rams have talent at inside linebacker. Bobby Wagner, of course. Adding a future Hall of Famer certainly helps. Ernest Jones has taken huge strides, which has been bolstered by adding Wagner. Christian Rozeboom improved significantly and had a great camp. So good that he didn’t have to play in the preseason to solidify his Rams roster spot.
Similarly to the OLB group, the inside linebackers have good depth as well. 2019 undrafted free agent, Jake Gervase is on the Rozeboom trajectory at this point. He logged 12 tackles on 97 defensive snaps. Six of those tackles came in preseason week. He seemed to be in the right spot on every play during that game. He was also peppered when he was in coverage, targeted 11 times. He gave up 10 catches but prevented big plays.
Jake Hummel was also playing with his hair on fire, racking up 15 tackles. He only gave up 70 yards on 11 targets, all of which were caught.
The Rams have kept four rostered inside linebackers in the past. But with Wagner, they may roll with three.
Rams Roster Safety – 5
Starters: Jordan Fuller, Nick Scott
Depth: Taylor Rapp, (Terrell Burgess, Quentin Lake, Russ Yeast)
At the moment this one is a tough chestnut to crack. The obvious roster spots are Jordan Fuller, Nick Scott, and Taylor Rapp. After that, it gets a little complicated. The Rams drafted Russ Yeast and Quentin Lake this year. They also haven’t shown much belief in Terrell Burgess.
Right now, Lake is on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which means the Rams will likely keep Burgess for the time being. Lake has missed all of training camp and the preseason. Yeast has played more than Burgess during the preseason. Neither was head and shoulders above the other.
So at this point, it is a three-way dice roll as to who ends up on the Rams roster. The Rams have allowed these types of battles to play out for a few weeks to see who rises to the occasion.
There is an opportunity to roster all five, but there isn’t much fat to trim elsewhere on the roster
Rams Roster Cornerback – 6
Starters: Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill, David Long Jr.
Depth: Robert Rochell, Cobie Durant, Derion Kendrick
Possible Practice Squad: Grant Haley/ Duron Lowe
Yet again, a position group with more talent than the Rams roster can contain. The top six are in stone. Mostly because rookies Cobie Durant and Derion Kendrick have been so freakishly good throughout training camp and into the preseason.
But there are a few players the Rams should try to keep on the practice squad. If you are keeping track it is rapidly filling up.
Grant Haley and Duron Lowe are two candidates the Rams should try to sneak through waivers. Haley led the corners in playing time and was put through the wringer. He was targeted 15 times and gave up fewer yards than Durant. 83 on 12 versus 93 on five. He also only allowed 16 yards after the catch on those receptions, which comes out to 1.22 yards allowed after the catch on average.
Lowe has an even more minuscule YAC number, allowing only two yards on five catches (0.4 YAC/per reception). He also force one incompletion and nearly picked off another pass.