Rams football is finally back…in some capacity at least. We are seeing pictures of Jared Goff and Sean McVay working together on the field which only excites us for the 2017 season. However, let’s not pretend that we don’t enjoy hearing about all of the camp battles that go on through training camp and the pre-season. It may be early, but here is my prediction for the Rams 2017 day one 53-man roster.
Quarterback (2): Jared Goff, Sean Mannion
Last year the Rams kept three quarterbacks on the roster, but that was because they had a rookie QB they drafted No.1 overall that wasn’t quite ready for day one. Now, that QB Jared Goff is going to be the unanimous starter for the Rams, the starting QB at the beginning of last year left in free agency and the Rams still have a backup QB in Sean Mannion who has barely seen in the field, but still remains as a 2015 third round draft pick.
The Rams signed Aaron Murray who is better than just a camp arm, but with the amount of depth the Rams have, there is no way the Rams can afford to keep three quarterbacks. Matt Davis is a UDFA camp arm the Rams picked up that offers mobility to the mix, since he is a year removed from his torn ACL, he might be a practice squad developmental QB.
Cut: Aaron Murray, Matt Davis
Running back (3): Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, Lance Dunbar
Going into the running back position and there is another unanimous starter and that is Todd Gurley. Gurley has struggled quite a bit as of late and now with the updated offensive line there shouldn’t be too many excuses for him this season. Malcolm Brown had a limited role last year as a former UDFA that beat the odds and made the roster a couple of years ago. Brown brings power and balanced ball-carrying to the mix to spell Gurley in the goal line situations or just a third down breather.
Over the free agency period the Rams gave a one-year three million dollar deal to Lance Dunbar to fill the “Chris Thompson role”. There is no way the Rams cut him so that leaves in my mind one running spot…on the practice squad. I believe it’s between Justin Davis (signed by the new regime) against Aaron Green (only limited connection to new regime). I am willing to bet Davis will end up winning the battle. With newly drafted FB Sam Rogers, I don’t see a need to keep four running backs. There are too many players that you would be sacrificing for a slot that isn’t a need.
Cut: Aaron Green, Lenard Tillery, Justin Davis
Fullback (1): Sam Rogers
The Rams shocked some people and took a fullback in the sixth round of the NFL draft. While many believe the FB position is dying in the NFL, Rogers brings multiple things to the table that would lead us to believe he’s more than a fullback. Rogers is reportedly battling Zach Laskey who has been all around the Rams since 2015 either being on the off-season roster, waived injured or being signed to the practice squad. I believe with Rogers having the sixth round title on his name he is likely to win this job easily, but Rogers is also going to earn it as well. This may be the last of Laskey if he is unable to upset Rogers in this camp battle.
Cut: Zach Laskey
Wide receiver (6): Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Tavon Austin, Josh Reynolds, Pharoh Cooper, Mike Thomas
This is likely the toughest position to predict once you get past the starters. I believe as thought the starting wide receivers will be free agent acquisition Robert Woods and third round pick Cooper Kupp. After that I think Tavon Austin maintains the slot receiver role and then a pair of fourth round picks Josh Reynolds this year and Pharoh Cooper of last year make the roster. The last receiver to make the roster I believe will be former sixth round pick and likely future special teams ace Mike Thomas.
The Rams may not have any all-pro level talents on their roster, but to narrow it down to six is going to be difficult. UDFAs Marquez, Spruce, McRoberts and North all have interesting upside and likely one of two will be put on the practice squad (except Marquez who is ineligible). I believe as though if I could pick the last player to make the roster I would go with McRoberts over Thomas, but with the way Thomas showed off on special teams last year as a gunner, it seems unlikely the Rams let him go.
Cut: Bradley Marquez, Nelson Spruce, Paul McRoberts, Brandon Shippen, Marquez North, Jeremy Tabuyo
Tight ends (3): Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Temarrick Hemingway
The Rams have added three tight ends by way of the NFL Draft in back-to-back seasons, these players appear to be the only that will make the 53-man roster in my opinion. I feel as though any chance Cory Harkey had was lost when the Rams drafted Sam Rogers who will be able to play that FB role Harkey had. Gerald Everett is set to assume the Jordan Reed role, but I feel as though this will be Higbee’s season to shine. Also, expect Temarrick Hemingway to make significant strides in year two.
There are some interesting options at tight end in Travis Wilson and Johnny Mundt who are guys to definitely keep an eye on. I ultimately think that those are the two that could both end up on the practice squad. Bryce Williams, who was a practice squad player last year was waived, so it appears likely one of these two if not both will be on the practice squad. Mundt has his own story as a former top prospect turned into the forgotten man due to injury versus Wilson who is literally a former QB that played in the same conference in college as Mundt.
Cut: Cory Harkey, Johnny Mundt, Travis Wilson
Offensive line (10): Andrew Whitworth, Rodger Saffold, John Sullivan, Rob Havenstein, Greg Robinson, Andrew Donnal, Jamon Brown, Cody Wichmann, Demetrius Rhaney, Pace Murphy
The starters on the offensive line are set from left to right: Andrew Whitworth, Rodger Saffold, John Sullivan, Rob Havenstein and Greg Robinson. That’s five of the nine, I believe that the 2015 draftees on the line will all make the roster. I think the Rams will choose to go with multiple guard/center hybrids then reach to keep multiple tackles. I also believe Andrew Donnal can play tackle if need be, the Rams have Robinson, Havenstein and Saffold that can all fill in at LT if god forbid Whitworth goes down. With Robinson it would be fairly simple, Havenstein would likely go back to RT and Jamon Brown would fill in at RG.
I think there are some intriguing options in Anthony McMeans, Jake Eldrenkamp and Kwayde Miller, but I ultimately believe that the Rams will only keep ten and with that being said keep those ten. I think Eldrenkamp and McMeans would likely find themselves on the practice squad.
Cut: Darrell Williams, Kwayde Miller, Jake Eldrenkamp, Anthony McMeans, Alex Kozan
Defensive line (5): Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Dominique Easley, Tanzel Smart, Mike Purcell
With the new defensive scheme coming to the Rams it is likely to phase out some “tweeners” on the team from last year such as Morgan Fox who is a good football player but isn’t big enough to play on the line in a 3-4 and is not fast enough to play at linebacker either. The obvious ones are our presumed three man starting front with Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and Dominique Easley. Next in line? The sixth round pick Tanzel Smart who can instantly come in and be a one-gap penetrating rotational interior lineman. I only ended up keeping five on the defensive line and decided to go with Mike Purcell who is both younger and likely just as good as Rams free agent signee Tyrunn Walker. Walker’s contract is easy to shed and Purcell gives the Rams flexibility if they find him useful enough he is a restricted free agent next year.
I already mentioned Fox and Walker but UDFAs Casey Sayles, Dimitrius Smith and Louis Trinca-Pasat I feel all have a good chance as a possible practice squad additions. The man that is known as LTP to some tore both his ACL and MCL last year in camp and will likely be back with a vengeance. I think he is a real dark horse to make the roster, but as it stands now is how I see it shaking out, come post-training camp.
Cut: Louis Trinca-Pasat, Casey Sayles, Morgan Fox, Dimitrius Smith, Tyrunn Walker
Linebackers (10): Alec Ogletree, Mark Barron, Josh Forrest, Robert Quinn, Connor Barwin, Samson Ebukam, Ejuan Price, Cory Littleton, Carlos Thompson, Ethan Westbrooks
I know what you’re thinking…10 linebackers? Yes, as a matter of fact most 3-4 defenses keep 10 total linebackers on tap. The obvious ones include my projected starters Alec Ogletree, Mark Barron, Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin. I felt as though the Rams had some tough decisions…or rather have some tough decisions ahead of them. Rams rookie of the year Cory Littleton gets the nod, Carlos Thompson with the connection to Wade Phillips gets him on the roster as well, Ethan Westbrooks has just shown way too much previously to let him go now, Samson Ebukam and Ejuan Price are locks in my opinion and Josh Forrest is a former sixth round pick that has had his head coach talk him up early on.
Following off with the rest of the linebackers that don’t quite make the 53, Bryce Hager who is a former seventh round pick in his own right and has actually shown some real improvement. Hager is the most likely out of this group to sneak into the roster, especially with his special teams play. After Hager you have Grigsby who actually was on the 53 man roster last season then the rest in which I see Folarin Orimolade as a potential dark horse if he can get the playing time he could challenge Ebukam, Price in preaseason. Overall, I believe Orimolade has the best chance to be on the practice squad.
Cut: Bryce Hager, Reggie Northrup, Cassanova McKinzy, Kevin Davis, Nicholas Grigsby, Folarin Orimolade, Matt Longacre
Cornerbacks (5): Trumaine Johnson, Kayvon Webster, Nickell Robey-Coleman, E.J. Gaines, Mike Jordan, Troy Hill*(SUSP)
Five cornerbacks are being kept and it’s basically like seven when you factor in that LaMarcus Joyner and John Johnson can both play the corner position. Early on I know the talks are that Webster will battle Gaines for the starting role next to Johnson, but it is clear as day that Webster is going to start. Webster knew he was going to start which is ultimately why he chose the Rams over the Eagles. The Rams had his old coach in Phillips and a chance to start next to a great corner and on a great defense, while the Eagles had a starting job open next to an average corner. The Rams brought in Nickell Robey-Coleman who gave their team fits last season and he’s a player that likely is the nickel corner when Joyner is playing safety. Last pick I had was Mike Jordan, someone I feel as though has a chance to be a real good corner. He’s a bigger physical guy than his competition and I bet Phillips notices that early on.
Troy Hill, who started some games last year for the Rams really hurt his stock when he was arrested during the season, that arrest will put him on the suspension list for two games and allow him to avoid the final cuts for the time being. Jared Collins, Aarion Penton and Ishmael Adams all are this year’s UDFAs at CB and I don’t feel as though any of them have a shot to make a cut of five which I have. There is some upside on the practice squad, but I don’t see it for them this year and with Blake Countess, I like him a lot, he is just too much like Joyner and Robey-Coleman, so he will either be on the practice squad or cut outright.
Cut: Jared Collins, Aarion Penton, Kevin Peterson, Blake Countess, Ishmael Adams
Safeties (5): LaMarcus Joyner, John Johnson, Cody Davis, Maurice Alexander, Brian Randolph
It is reportedly a fact that LaMarcus Joyner will make the transition to free safety to play alongside last year’s free safety Maurice Alexander, he will now move over to strong safety. The Rams spent a third round pick on Boston College safety/cornerback hybrid John Johnson who is a shoe-in to make the 53-man roster. Lastly, I only had the Rams hanging onto five safeties. The other two were both former UDFAs Cody Davis who is a key special teams contributor and has had some experience on defense and Brian Randolph who could be the big time sleeper who was forgotten after he tore his ACL early in the Dallas Cowboys preseason game last year.
Dravious Wright is this year’s only UDFA safety and while he hits like a brick, I don’t see him offering much more that will entice the Rams into parting with the five I have making the roster. Wright could be a practice squad option along with former Rams practice squad safety Isaiah Johnson. Marqui Christian is likely going to be the last one that can make the safeties, if they keep six I believe he’s on the roster. The problem is that the Rams got better and because of that, they may have to cut a good young player in Christian.
Cut: Dravious Wright, Isaiah Johnson, Marqui Christian
Specialists (3): K Greg Zuerlein, P Johnny Hekker, LS Jake McQuaide
There is zero competition this year for any of these positions and it’s because they are fantastic at what they do. When it’s all said and done Hekker could end up being the greatest punter ever and Zuerlein could end up breaking the longest kick record. McQuaide had competition in newly-signed Andrew East, but that quickly went out the window when the Rams cut him recently. McQuaide was a pro bowler last year so he likely wouldn’t have been going anywhere anyway.
Final Starting Lineup:
QB: Jared Goff
RB: Todd Gurley
FB: Sam Rogers
WR: Robert Woods
WR: Tavon Austin
WR: Cooper Kupp
TE: Tyler Higbee
TE: Gerald Everett
LT: Andrew Whitworth
LG: Rodger Saffold
C: John Sullivan
RG: Rob Havenstein
RT: Greg Robinson
DE: Aaron Donald
NT: Michael Brockers
DE: Dominique Easley
WLB: Robert Quinn
ILB: Alec Ogletree
ILB: Mark Barron
SLB: Connor Barwin
CB: Trumaine Johnson
CB: Kayvon Webster
CB: Nickell Robey-Coleman
FS: LaMarcus Joyner
SS: Maurice Alexander
K: Greg Zuerlein
P: Johnny Hekker
LS: Jake McQuaide
KR: Lance Dunbar
PR: Tavon Austin
Thoughts? Let us know your 53-man roster below!