Each week we will bring you an updated look at our prediction for the 53-man roster. Since our last prediction many things have gone down to change the original look of how we felt the roster would play out. Of course, that’s football, so here are our 53-man roster predictions following not only preseason week one, but the Sammy Watkins blockbuster trade as well.
Quarterback (2): Jared Goff, Sean Mannion
Yeah, obviously there really isn’t much competition. Jared Goff is the starter and that is not in question, but what also isn’t in question is how the Rams feel about backup and former third-round pick Sean Mannion. He may not be the Rams long-term backup plan, but Mannion as we know now is the backup moving forward. If the Rams had any doubt that Mannion couldn’t do it, they would have either drafted a QB (Brad Kaaya was available in the sixth round) or they would have given him more competition then just throwing out a camp arm in Dan Orlovsky.
At first it may have been up in the air going into the off-season when the Rams signed Aaron Murray to compete the for the second QB job, but it became quite evident of the Rams feelings of Mannion when they decided to release Murray before OTA’s
Cut: Dan Orlovsky
Running back (3): Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, Justin Davis
Another obvious starter Todd Gurley is not going anywhere. Malcolm Brown appears to have taken a vice grip in the backup role unless he continues to put the ball on the ground like he did twice last night. As far as the running backs go after that? Not really a guarantee for any of them and that even includes Lance Dunbar who the Rams signed in free agency.
For a running back like Aaron Green, not competing in the first two games puts him on the bottom of the depth chart or close to it. Of the running backs the most impressive and disappointing on the field was USC product Justin Davis who took nine carries for 70 yards, but a the same time had two fumbles in week one. Davis likely put himself in the roster discussion. Last night he showed some of his ability as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
As for Lenard Tillery, he didn’t get much of a chance to run the ball, but when he did it went backwards. Tillery has little time to show the Rams he’s an asset. Lastly, this all begs the question if the Rams can have backs like Davis, Tillery and Green show out moving forward to close out preseason. Do the Rams really have to keep Lance Dunbar? I believe Dunbar will likely be put on the injured reserve or PUP list as there has been no reason to believe he will return to the field anytime soon.
Cut: Aaron Green, Lenard Tillery
PUP: Lance Dunbar
Fullback (1): Sam Rogers
After Zach Laskey went down it became Sam Rogers job by default. Laskey is on the Rams injured reserve list and Rogers is one of those players that gives it his all every day and is the first one to show up on the field at practice. Rogers offers special team value, but he was the best fullback coming out of college this year and the Rams plan on using him as a blocker, receiver and runner. There is no doubt the Rams will hold onto him as he offers plenty and he fits in the “We not Me” culture as well as anyone.
Wide receiver (7): Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Tavon Austin, Pharoh Cooper, Josh Reynolds, Paul McRoberts
Well, the Sammy Watkins blockbuster trade really shook things up for the Rams and likely knocked a player the Rams pegged as someone who would make the team off of the roster. We likely know of the six players the Rams are keeping in Watkins, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Tavon Austin, Pharoh Cooper and Josh Reynolds. What we don’t know is if they will keep more and if so, who that last player will be.
Overall, this position started out so unpredictable and has gone to what is likely the most predictable position on the roster. All we know is that there are four receivers guaranteed (unless you are on the fence that Tavon Austin makes the team) followed by a ton of uncertainty. The Rams could easily decide to keep McRoberts who actually worked with the first-team offense in their scrimmage versus the Chargers, they could decide that Spruce offers too much as a receiver to just let go or they could say that Cooper is a former fourth-round pick that can do a little bit of everything in the offensive game and special teams game and decide to ultimately keep him.
The last three wide receivers the Rams brought in KD Cannon, C.J. Germany and Justin Thomas appeared to receive a minuscule amount of snaps, but the Rams did try Cannon in the kick return game at least once in the preseason opener. Shakeir Ryan is going to offer something as a returner which will likely leave the Rams coaching staff to make a tough decision. I think when you look at the grand scheme of things, you have to consider who brings size to the table, who is out there everyday competing, who brings game-breaking ability in the return game and who isn’t there.
Unfortunately, with the Watkins trade the Rams may have made a mistake in even drafting Josh Reynolds who will likely make the team regardless of what happens and likely push off one of the fan favorites like McRoberts or Spruce. You could also see a trade or two and with that being said Pharoh Cooper would seem like the most likely in that department. You still have to keep in mind Mike Thomas will sit on the suspension list for four games and won’t count against the roster. An interesting dynamic to keep in mind as well.
Cut: Brandon Shippen, Shakeir Ryan, Nelson Spruce, KD Cannon
Suspended: Mike Thomas (available for week five if the Rams choose to bring him back on the roster)
Tight end (3): Gerald Everett, Tyler Higbee, Travis Wilson
This Gerald Everett guy looks like no tight end we have ever seen the Rams deploy. Everett has an amazing blend of size, speed and overall quickness. While it says Tyler Higbee as the starter right now on the depth chart, don’t be surprised when it’s the second-round pick as the starter at the end of the preseason.
With that all being said the Rams seemed set to have three tight ends Everett, Higbee and Temarrick Hemingway moving forward. That was until Hemingway suffered a grueling fractured fibula injury that will sideline him more than half the season. All of them played at least one snap with the first-team offense. Cory Harkey would seem like the likely next man up and the reason being he has dominated the others in snaps in the preseason, let alone his longevity in the league. However, the first signing in the new Sean McVay era was Travis Wilson, a former QB turned TE after working on the transition for awhile. I think McVay likes him as his project and will likely hold onto him.
Cut: Cory Harkey, Johnny Mundt
PUP: Temarrick Hemingway
Offensive line (9): Andrew Whitworth, Rodger Saffold, John Sullivan, Jamon Brown, Rob Havenstein, Andrew Donnal, Austin Blythe, Jake Eldrenkamp, Darrell Williams
This is a unit that shows improvement in the starters, but man, do the Rams have a lot of evaluating to do to get this offensive line depth in order heading into the season. Some of the names above that I have listed to make the roster may not make it and might actually be replaced by a player that is not even on the Rams yet. That’s just the nature of the business, it’s a very “give and take” type of league and the Rams have to be a team watching attentively to see who is ultimately let go.
Andrew Donnal and Austin Blythe are quite honestly the “stars” of the second-team and I wouldn’t sleep on Donnal who could possibly replace Jamon Brown if he turns out to be the wrong decision. Another player to watch would likely be Jake Eldrenkamp who has the ability to play both center and guard. The guy I would expect if any, to be replaced would be Pace Murphy who has had a rough time in pass protection. Although the Rams may not want to think about the idea of their stud left tackle going down with injury. It’s important to have a backup plan and right now the Rams best option might be a player that has barely played the tackle spot and that’s Donnal.
Cut: Alex Kozan, Parker Collins, Pace Murphy, Michael Dunn, Cody Wichmann
Defensive line (6): Aaron Donald, Ethan Westbrooks, Michael Brockers, Tanzel Smart, Louis Trinca-Pasat, Morgan Fox
This is sort of a bold prediction, but with recent dialogue, it appears Aaron Donald could have a deal sooner than later what would ultimately bring him back to the Rams. Factoring that in unfortunately Casey Sayles, who has looked real good in preseason gets the ax. With Donald, I believe this position group has a lot of promise.
Michael Brockers is one of the better lesser known defensive tackles in football, Ethan Westbrooks is an underrated pass rusher that has improved every year, Tanzel Smart is an exciting rookie that has extremely quick feet and can penetrate the interior like an Aaron Donald, Louis Trinca-Pasat is a player that brings a non-stop motor to the defense, Morgan Fox is literally the same exact thing with some underrated athletic build.
I think by the Rams keeping seven guys, it allows there to be a rotation that might become underrated and forgotten with no Dominique Easley in the fold.
Cut: Casey Sayles, Omarius Bryant, Tyrunn Walker
Linebackers (9): Robert Quinn, Connor Barwin, Alec Ogletree, Mark Barron, Matt Longacre, Bryce Hager, Cory Littleton, Samson Ebukam, Ejuan Price
With the new switch over to Wade Phillips’ defense, the Rams find themselves likely employing more linebackers than any former roster in the last decade. The starters are set to be Robert Quinn, Connor Barwin, Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron. On paper that looks nice, but it’s a matter of them all staying healthy and putting everything together. I feel as though the Rams have a lot of young talent at his position with Cory Littleton, Bryce Hager, Samson Ebukam and Ejuan Price. Unfortunately players like Josh Forrest and Cassanova McKinzy might be the odd men out.
The Rams could realistically keep the nine listed with an additional 2-4 more linebackers based off who deserves to be on a 53-man roster. However, they are backed in a corner and will likely need depth in the secondary which will ultimately leave them parting ways with some talent at linebacker.
Cut: Cassanova McKinzy, Josh Forrest, Carlos Thompson, Nic Grigsby, Kevin Davis, Folarin Orimolade, Andy Mulumba, Davis Tull, Willie Mays
Cornerbacks (5): Trumaine Johnson, Kayvon Webster, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Michael Jordan, Dominique Hatfield
The Rams traded away E.J. Gaines for Sammy Watkins and while Gaines could be considered a loss, I believe the Rams are equipped with some nice depth even going down to the back end of the position. Trumaine Johnson returns on a rental one-year contract, Kayvon Webster is the one player at cornerback that we still have yet to see in game action. I believe he can be a legit starter in the NFL and if so, that alleviates the pressure of losing Gaines to this trade.
After the two projected starters, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Michael Jordan and Dominique Hatfield make up what I believe will be the full position depth chart. This leaves the Rams with a young group at the back end with Jordan and Hatfield that the Rams can develop moving forward. Yes, to some, Hatfield seems like a shocking pick, but that’s who I predicted on the latest Downtown Rams Podcast episode and I’m sticking with it here.
I love what Kevin Peterson brings to the table, but unfortunately I don’t believe he received enough reps to actually make this roster. He showed some serious potential in limited opportunities, but I don’t believe it was enough to get on the 53, but I do believe it will be enough to make the practice squad. Regardless of what you may think about Peterson, keeping him and perhaps another cornerback in the building probably makes the most sense.
Cut: Aarion Penton, Kevin Peterson, Tyqwuan Glass, Carlos Davis
Suspended: Troy Hill (available for week three if the Rams choose to bring him back on the roster)
Safeties (5): Maurice Alexander, LaMarcus Joyner, Marqui Christian, Blake Countess, John Johnson
It seems crazy to snub players like Cody Davis and Isaiah Johnson, but unfortunately that’s what the draft pick of John Johnson ends up causing. No, I wasn’t a fan of the pick and I’m still not. As you all know I am very optimistic about the Rams, but I did not like that pick of Johnson. Regardless, Mo Alexander and LaMarcus Joyner are starting this season and I believe the Rams will have two versatile pieces behind them in Marqui Christian and Blake Countess.
Countess, like Joyner and Johnson can play cornerback as well as safety. I believe the Rams could have mutual interest in recently rumored cut T.J. Ward, which would likely change everything for this unit. As for right now though, I don’t believe the Rams need Ward. I like where the Rams are at with this group heading into week one. Don’t sleep on Christian, he has a knack for the ball and could be a vital third safety moving forward.
Cut: Isaiah Johnson, Cody Davis
Special Teams (3): K Greg Zuerlein, P Johnny Hekker, LS Jake McQuaide
Nothing to see here….
Cut: Travis Coons
Predicted Practice Squad:
RB Lenard Tillery
WR Brandon Shippen
WR Shakeir Ryan
TE Johnny Mundt
OT Michael Dunn
DT Casey Sayles
LB Cassanova McKinzy
LB Davis Tull
CB Kevin Peterson
SS Isaiah Johnson