The NFL roster deadline came and went, 1 pm PT, and the Los Angeles Rams are currently sitting at a roster with 52 players (more on that later). Today is one of the toughest days of the year as many men lose their jobs and watch their dreams take an unexpected turn. The key for all of these players that have been cut from rosters is to stay hungry, stay vigilant, and stay committed to accomplishing that dream.
Failure, or not making an initial roster in this instance, does not signify the end of the road or the end of a career. Many players have watched their training camps end with the cleaning out of their locker, only to find themselves in another locker room or another situation where they can thrive and continue to develop. To those players, I say, stay the course, keep grinding.
Now, for all intents and purposes, this article will be focused on the roster that the Rams have built and are planning to start the season with. We are one week and a day away from kickoff against the Dallas Cowboys. Is this the roster that can get the job done?
No real surprise here. When no veteran was brought in to battle for the backup spot, it demonstrated McVay’s trust in Wolford. Look for the Rams to bring Bryce Perkins back on the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Running Backs (4)
Again not a big surprise about the main three in Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, and Malcolm Brown. I am a little surprised to see John Kelly released (again) after having a really solid camp. But the coaching staff gave the nod to UDFA Xavier Jones out of SMU. Jones brings juice with him, and he put the rock into the end zone 25 times last season with the Mustangs.
Wide Receivers (6)
The only surprising thing here is that LA is keeping six WRs. Josh Reynolds will have his money cut out for himself keeping his tentative 3rd WR spot as rookie Van Jefferson has had a tremendous camp and has caught the eye of McVay and many of his teammates.
Nsimba Webster was the story last year after he made the team as a UDFA. Not the biggest guy, but a solid route runner and a good special teamer. For those that didn’t know, he played at the same college as Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington).
The other newbie of the group is Trishton Jackson, UDFA out of Syracuse. He finished with over 1,000 receiving yards with the Orange last year and should be another solid special teamer for John Bonamego.
Tight Ends (4)
Tyler Higbee was a lock. Gerald Everett still has a ton of potential but has had trade rumors swirling around him. Brycen Hopkins was a 4th round pick in this year’s draft, and many argue, the most athletic and explosive tight end in his class. And Johnny Mundt is essentially a 6th offensive lineman. Pretty chalk here for the Rams, but expect to see a lot more 12 personnel this season.
Offensive Line (10)
Don’t know if this is a huge surprise, but it may be telling. Last season, the Rams were decimated by injuries in the offensive trenches. So how do you counter that? Keep 10 offensive linemen on the roster.
It’s been good to see 2020 7th round pick Tremayne Anchrum climb the depth chart and outlive the cuts. His versatility and experience with an elite program (Clemson) played to his value. He may be a ways from starting, but should they need him to fill in, Anchrum should play admirably.
Coleman Shelton is an interesting story considering he is the 3rd Center on the roster, behind Austin Blythe and Brian Allen. It’s very rare for teams to keep three centers on a roster, but perhaps they feel confident that he can move outside and play some guard as well if necessary. At this point, the approach to the offensive line seems to be, strength in numbers.
Defensive Line (6)
With free agent acquisition, A’Shawn Robinson, out with injury for an undisclosed amount of time, the UDFA out of Texas-San Antonio, Eric Banks, made the roster as a defensive end. He has a phenomenal story, as he was working at a Feed, Pet, and Lawn Supply store back in San Antonio at the beginning of the year. Now he is one of 52 players to call the Rams his employer. Who knows how long it will last, but Banks certainly did enough in camp to earn a spot on the roster.
The returning five are all familiar names. Sebastian Joseph-Day should be locked in to start at nose tackle, but I hope that big Greg Gaines makes the leap in year two. I loved his production at Washington and would love to see that fully transition over to the NFL. Overall, this is a very good unit and will be even better once Robinson returns.
Inside Linebacker (3)
Ahh, the inside linebacker position. The position group that has fans most worried, and the position group that the Rams seem least inclined to do anything about. Part of this is a trust in the guys they have. Part of this is a scheme and philosophy change that will see much less usage of traditional inside linebackers. I have talked about this extensively on Bleav In LA Football, and I broke down the defensive scheme here, but when Brandon Staley was in Chicago with Vic Fangio (followed him to Denver too), the Bears ran out of the Nickel 84% of the time! This tells me to not be super worried about the ILB position, and more open to the fact that the Rams kept five safeties (more on that later).
But in terms of who they did keep, Micah Kiser and Kenny Young should both be slotted as the starters for now. We still don’t know a whole lot about what Kiser brings to the table as he missed all of last season, and Young was great at UCLA and showed flashes during his short time in Baltimore. The fact that the Rams made sure Young was included in the trade package that sent Marcus Peters to the Ravens tells you something about their confidence in him. Troy Reeder rounds out the three, who played decent when called upon last year.
As it stands, the Rams currently have an open roster spot as they sit at 52. I would be shocked if they do not use that spot to sign another ILB. Even if they have confidence in the room they have, carrying only three players at this position is very thin.
A few free agents to monitor. Todd Davis was recently released by the Denver Broncos. Still only 28 years old, Davis has started 63 games and has a brief history with Staley. He finished last year with 134 combined tackles, the exact same amount as Cory Littleton last year. If healthy, he would be a plugin starter upon signing on the dotted line.
I also like Vosean Joseph, formerly of the Buffalo Bills. A great special teamer that played at a big-time program with Florida. Sometimes players just need a fresh start, and Joseph could get one potentially with the Rams.
Outside Linebacker (5)
No real surprises here. Jachai Polite was added to the practice squad last year, so this time around he makes the initial roster. Terrell Lewis has a lot of question marks about that knee of his and he has already been announced as out for week one against the Cowboys, but if he can get his health right, he can be a force this year. The three-man rotation of Ebukam, Floyd, and Okoronkwo have a lot of pressure riding on them.
Everyone is looking at the inside backer position, but this is the group that I have circled. In order for Staley’s system to be truly successful, they need to get pressure on the quarterback without blitzing. Floyd is extremely underrated in coverage and run defense, but Ebukam and Okoronkwo will need to get after the QB in a big way.
No real surprises here. I expect Ramsey and Hill to be on the outside with Williams in the slot. Long Jr. will get his reps and should see a lot of action in the Nickel.
Troy Hill finished last year with a 72.7 coverage grade, surprisingly slightly higher than Jalen Ramsey’s 71.9. Underrated group, but a solid unit heading into the season.
Most people thought that the Rams were set at the safety position heading into the draft, and then Snead and Co drafted two. Both Terrell Burgess and Jordan Fuller made the roster and are expected to have a pretty large role, especially in the aforementioned Nickel and Dime packages. When Staley was in Denver last year, the Broncos used Will Parks as a versatile, “roving” safety. I would expect Burgess and Fuller to do a lot of the same, as well as spot Rapp and Johnson when needed.
Nick Scott is a tremendous special teams player and has the ability to make the Pro Bowl in this role. He was a must keep, even at a deep position.
Special Teams (3)
This may have been the biggest controversy out of all the roster moves. The Rams decided to entrust their kicking game to 7th round pick Samuel Sloman. The University of Miami (OH) product had an up and down camp, but finished strong and showed enough to win the job. When it comes down to it, if the competition is remotely close, organizations tend to go with the player they drafted. Sloman has a big leg and will have big shoes to fill after the departure of Zuerlein.
Well, there you have it. A brief, yet somewhat deep-dive of the Rams current 52-man roster. What do you think Rams fans? Any surprise cuts? Happy with the roster? Too many offensive linemen? Let me know your thoughts below or hit me up on Twitter!