The Rams are wrapping up rookie mini-camp and soon the 90-man Rams roster will be all ready to go for OTAs and then of course training camp/preseason activities. Here are the biggest camp battles to keep an eye on.
Starting outside Wide Receiver: Cooper Kupp vs. Josh Reynolds vs. Tavon Austin vs. Pharoh Cooper
It’s unclear exactly who will be starting outside of free agent acquisition Robert Woods. The Rams have a 5-foot-8 electric talent in Tavon Austin, but there are concerns whether he can get off the line of scrimmage when lined up anywhere besides the slot. There is a fourth-round pick from last year in Pharoh Cooper who could likely play in either the slot or on the outside, but he lacks the speed to win consistently and especially lacks the NFL experience after missing almost all of last season with injuries.
After those two it’s between third and fourth picks Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds respectively from the 2017 NFL draft. Both bring ideal NFL WR size at 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3 respectively as opposed to Austin’s 5-foot-8 and Cooper’s 5-foot-11 frame. Kupp is likely the favorite in my humble opinion to win the job on the outside across from Woods. Kupp has the size, the quickness out of breaks, the athletic ability to win the 50/50 balls, the route experience from running a full route tree at Eastern Washington and the football intelligence. Reynolds I find to be more of a project and that might not be the best word for him. Reynolds has to gain some weight as he only weighs 193 pounds to go with that great height he possesses. Kupp is the more completely built WR, but if Reynolds’ development progresses nicely he likely has the highest ceiling at the position for the Rams.
Predicted winner: Cooper Kupp
Starting Free Safety: LaMarcus Joyner vs. John Johnson vs. Brian Randolph vs. Cody Davis vs. Marqui Christian vs. Isaiah Johnson
The position seems to have a favorite early on in camp and that is former second-round stud, LaMarcus Joyner. While some may have an issue with size at playing such a position. It is important to remember that Tyrann Mathieu and Earl Thomas are two examples of smaller free safeties that have dominated at the position. Joyner possesses the athleticism and instincts those two have as well. If Joyner doesn’t end up keeping the job through camp it won’t be a huge deal. It’s also important to remember that Joyner is one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the game and would be fine playing there if free safety doesn’t work out.
The most rumored favorite to assume control of the position is none other than third-round pick John Johnson. The Rams are head over heels with Johnson’s ability, which was pretty evident when the Rams coaches began to rave about Johnson after rookie mini-camp. He of course still has plenty of work to do, but with the amount of buzz he received during rookie mini-camps there is a reason to believe he is likely being touted by0 coaches as a possible starter come week one.
The rest of the safeties that remain fighting for this position are made up of three players that were on the roster in some capacity last season and a dark horse in Brian Randolph who didn’t have the chance to be on the active roster after he went down with a torn ACL in the first preseason game. Cody Davis brings speed and athleticism to the position as well as his ability to make a play on the ball. Davis, also has the most experience out of anyone in this competition at the position he is competing for. Marqui Christian was a fifth-round pick last year by the Arizona Cardinals that the Rams ended up claiming off waivers. Christian looked solid in his limited amount of snaps last year on the roster. Isaiah Johnson is another player the Rams had on the active roster, but he was actually promoted from the practice squad. Out of everyone in this mini group outside of Joyner and Johnson, I would say Randolph has the most upside.
Randolph may not be the starter right away, but he has the skill set, measurables and football IQ that can’t be coached. That will most definitely bode well for the second-year safety out of Tennessee. I think the starting position will ultimately come down to the rookie Johnson versus the stud nickel cornerback Joyner. I think the Rams will end up keeping Joyner at free safety, but end up using him and Johnson interchangeably. It’s worth noting that the Rams did bring in one of the better nickel corners in the league Nickell Robey-Coleman. That’s what really leads me to believe they want to try Joyner out at free safety and have Robey-Coleman as the nickel corner.
Predicted winner: LaMarcus Joyner
Last WR Spot(s): Mike Thomas vs. Nelson Spruce vs. Paul McRoberts vs. Marquez North vs. Bradley Marquez vs. Brandon Shippen
There are players that could join this list as tryout signee’s, but for now we are going to just list the players signed to the Rams roster at receiver. I think it will be a tight battle, but in the end I think they keep six and they keep Mike Thomas because of his value he brings on special teams which you could argue would tie Bradley Marquez. What beats Marquez out? Thomas has more size and likely has a higher ceiling than Marquez which is what I think does it. If you were to pick a dark horse I would say don’t count out Paul McRoberts.
Predicted winner: Mike Thomas
Last CB Spot(s): Mike Jordan vs. Troy Hill vs. Aarion Penton vs. Blake Countess vs. Kevin Peterson vs. Jared Collins
Same thing with up top applies, the Rams have plenty of tryout players and one of them could likely be an undersized and underrated stud William Likely, but for now here are the ones signed to the roster. Another tight battle, but I think it’s really only between Mike Jordan and Troy Hill. While Blake Countess was impressive at times last season, you can’t forget that the Rams have two players that bring exactly what he does to the table as that small, but hard hitting nickel cornerback. I think with both Hill and Jordan having the experience in the regular season and on the outside covering talented NFL wide receivers. It’s between them to win the job. I think Mike Jordan has the biggest upside out of everyone listed and I think he makes it over Hill, but the Rams don’t even need to cut Hill due to his suspension. They can leave Hill on the suspended list and keep Jordan as the last and fifth cornerback.
Predicted winner: Mike Jordan
What are your thoughts Rams fans? Agree? Disagree? Let us know!