It was a rough night for the Rams in a 33-7 loss in Baltimore but it was just preseason and there are plenty of things to take away from this game. Some players stepped up and some did not. I decided to take a look under the hood and re-watch the tape in depth. Here’s what I came away with as the one’s who saw their stock rise and fall after this game.
QB Brandon Allen (10/15/73yds/TD)
It wasn’t a game for the ages but Allen made the most of his reps with the Rams. It’s actually the first in-game reps of any kind he’s had with the Rams. Allen moved the ball downfield after a long night of an offense that was stuck in neutral. Allen capped off his night with an impressive touchdown that was beautifully placed into the arms of a sliding KhaDarel Hodge. The Rams have a real question at QB after Jared Goff and Allen can seriously win this job. There is a reason why Allen played the whole second half, the Rams really want to see what they have in him.
RB Justin Davis (7car/41yds)
The entire first half was dreadful aside from Justin Davis on offense. Davis picked up right where he left off last preseason displaying his sharp ability as a one-cut back. Davis looked great in limited carries but the key here was no ball was put on the ground.
RB John Kelly (13car/73yds)
The entire second half was a polar opposite from the first. John Kelly, the rookie out of Tennesse showed off his ability as an all-around running back displaying the vision as a ball-carrier, his receiving ability and his blocking ability as he had a nice blitz pickup on third-down. Kelly came in after Davis had already set the table. Kelly really gave Rams fans something to be excited about in a dim and dull overall game.
WR KhaDarel Hodge (2rec/14yds/TD)
He didn’t get a ton of playing time or opportunities but we all know you have to make the most with what you have in preseason and training camp. Hodge found the end zone which was the only score of the game and the first of the 2018 Rams season. It goes without saying, Hodge definitely had a bump in stock and while he might not make the team, he put some tape out there for the watching teams around the league and practice squad thoughts in the minds of Rams coaches.
WR Steven Mitchell (0rec/0yds)
The former USC Trojan did not get much of a chance in the offense. Mitchell had one pass come his way but it was behind him and there was nothing he could do with it. Aside from that, why would I put him on the stock up list? He was excellent as a blocker, on multiple occasions he held his blocks well even when offensive linemen couldn’t. John Kelly was great in his first game but blocks like the ones Mitchell had laid out for him are part of the reason why a 15-yard run turned into an extra 15 on top of that. It should be exciting to watch Mitchell as he gets more involved in the offense.
LT Joseph Noteboom
The headliner of the 2018 Rams draft class played very well in his debut. Noteboom played left tackle and showed off his athleticism in multiple instances. He sprung a couple of nice blocks with his powerful run blocking and displayed improved footwork in his pass blocking. Noteboom is the future blindside protector for Jared Goff and the Rams so this was a good sight to see.
RG Jamil Demby
Demby is another offensive lineman from the 2018 Rams draft class that also played very well in his debut. Demby displayed his versatility when he played three different positions including both guard spots and right tackle in the game tonight. Demby was solid in pass protection and opened up a bevy of holes for the run game.
DL Chunky Clements (tackle)
Chunky was very impressive as he consistently applied pressure on the QB, Clements displayed the ability to clog running lanes but his ability as a rusher was something that stood out especially when he applied pressure on Robert Griffin III and got him to trip up for a sack that was credited to Ejuan Price.
DL Sebastian Joseph-Day (2 tackles/TFL)
Another defensive lineman that appeared to wreak havoc in the backfield. Joseph-Day split double teams, clogged running lanes and put pressure on the QB just like Clements did. I feel really confident Joseph-Day ends up making this roster.
DE Ethan Westbrooks (2 sacks/2 TFL’s/2 tackles/2 QBHits)
It doesn’t matter that Westbrooks has already established himself in the league. Westbrooks seriously dominated before an injury ended his day. He totaled two sacks and two tackles for a loss as he constantly was in the backfield applying pressure. He’s started 2018 off on the right foot and then some.
OLB Samson Ebukam (tackle)
Ebukam was one of the lone starters that played this game and it shows why he’s a starter. Ebukam was nearly unblockable and consistently beat his man off the edge. The Rams fourth-round pick displayed his athleticism and aggressiveness consistently applying pressure on the QB and his support in the run game.
OLB Trevon Young (4 tackles)
He was all over the place. Trevon Young made an excellent play to stop Jackson from scrambling for a first down and he put a lot of pressure in the backfield. Young likely moved his way up the depth chart just a tad.
ILB Bryce Hager (5 tackles)
Hager is already well regarded among this coaching staff but he was flying all over the field and was always around the ball. He made a nice blitz that resulted in running Lamar Jackson back 20 yards and getting him to throw it away. Hager showed off his athletic ability in coverage as well, overall, I came away impressed with Hager and I believe he’s a lock to make the roster.
ILB Tegray Scales (5 tackles/TFL)
Tegray Scales was the headliner of the UDFA’s the Rams inked to deals. Scales probably should have been drafted and his performance against the Ravens showed that. Scales flew all over the field making nice plays on special teams, picking up a nice tackle for a loss and some great open field tackles. He showed his all-around ability in coverage as well and looked extremely comfortable playing early on in this ball game. Scales found himself on the bottom of the positional depth chart but he played immediately after Ramik Wilson and Bryce Hager came out and before the two drafted rookies Micah Kiser and Travin Howard. That might say more than the depth chart itself.
ILB Micah Kiser (6 tackles)
Micah Kiser had himself the most tackles on the team and constantly filling gap assignments and making textbook tackles. The Rams had a problem with this last year and especially in the postseason but to have a player like Kiser and the way he played with Scales, that offers another level of depth this Rams linebacker group needs. Kiser’s weakness is still in coverage but he looked more comfortable in this one and will continue to improve upon that.
KR/PR JoJo Natson (7KRs/161yds/4PRs/57yds)
I was very impressed with the game Natson had. He made a nice first down catch later on from Brandon Allen but the thing that was impressive was his ability to return kicks and punts. Natson displayed vision and change of direction on multiple opportunities. Natson is someone that will be a hot commodity following cut day if a team is looking for a returner. Unfortunately, the Rams could really only place him on the practice squad because they happen to have All-Pro return man Pharoh Cooper at their disposal. Still though, on a night where not much went well for the Rams, Natson was consistent and gave you something to watch on special teams.
QB Sean Mannion (3/13/16yds/INT)
Sean Mannion went from being the backup QB to Goff to then looking like the worst backup in the league. Mannion had a terrible night and it was evident early on. He had some good play out of his running back but was unable to capitalize and continuously stalled drives. Mannion showed lack of awareness, accuracy issues and an overall feel for his receivers which was shocking considering how much time he has spent throwing to some of these guys. The Rams are in some serious trouble if they cannot find their backup QB behind Jared Goff. With players like rookie QB Luke Falk playing well and Cody Kessler having a good performance for the Jaguars it makes you wonder why the Rams did not pull the trigger for a rookie in the draft or a QB in free agency. If what was seen from Mannion this game is what Mannion is then the Rams have a serious problem if Goff goes down.
WR Josh Reynolds (rec/6yds/drop)
Reynolds didn’t really have much of chance with Mannion throwing him the ball but he let a familiar trend in training camp follow him into this game and that was the drops. Only one drop but Reynolds stock is definitely down a tad after dropping a first down catch and with the amount of dropping he has down in camp.
LT Darrell Williams & RT Cornelius Lucas
Just bad. I don’t know what to say except the fact that is thanking the good god that the Rams decided to address this in the draft. These two started the game and offered no protection for Sean Mannion and no holes to come by for backup RB Malcolm Brown. It was a very bad performance all around. Cornelius Lucas was beaten badly on the first drive that ended up in a huge sack for the Ravens and a huge drive ender for the Rams. Darrell Williams got Brandon Allen killed by Tim Williams on a nasty strip sack. The two were to put it nicely were just not very good at all in any way whatsoever. Stock all the way down.
DL McKay Murphy (0 tackles)
The impressive UDFA was less impressive in his first preseason game. Murphy was shoved most of the night and had a hard time applying pressure like everyone around him was able to do. It’s certainly early but being a UDFA means you have to produce and Murphy simply did not do that.
DL Tanzel Smart (0 tackles)
This was not the game a player like Tanzel Smart could afford to have. He went statless, showed next to nothing as a rusher and his lone moment of the game came when Jackson juked him out onto his knees. Smart will have to regroup and respond because Clements, Westbrooks and Joseph-Day all had solid games. This is going to be a tough roster to crack.
OLB Ryan Davis (0 tackles)
Ryan Davis has been raved about since he entered camp and started playing with the one’s. The problem is that he’s a 250+ pound rusher that plays on the line and had a hard time doing anything against Orlando Brown of the Ravens. Davis had some good moments and some cringe-worthy moments where he lost his footing or just looked overall downright clumsy at times. Davis will need to simply play better or watch his role get scooped up by Trevon Young or someone else.
OLB Justin Lawler (3 tackles)
Like Ryan Davis, I saw nothing against Orlando Brown from Justin Lawler. Lawler at least managed to get in the stat sheet but it was not a great performance. Lawler was reportedly taking reps with the one’s as well but this game he look overmatched on the edge. He will definitely need to improve moving forward.
CB Troy Hill (3 tackles/PD)
It was not Troy Hill’s best night and after an amazing performance this past January in his first playoff game, Hill looked all out of sorts against the Ravens starters in preseason. Hill got beat multiple times and one of those times included a rushing touchdown by Jackson in which he juked him out of his shoes. Hill has good film out there so this isn’t the end all be all but he needs to play better moving forward as the Rams are extremely deep at corner. It’s also worth noting he was playing behind Kevin Peterson and Sam Shields, that could mean trouble for Hill.
CB Taurean Nixon (1 tackle/3 missed tackles)
Another bad day for a CB. Taurean Nixon had a rough time keeping up with rookie WR Jordan Lasley who burned him repeatedly. Nixon also had a hard time completing tackles in space. I counted three missed tackles when I went back and watched the film. Nixon will have to play better as he is already very unlikely to make the roster.
BONUS STOCK DOWN: THE NFL
There were two plays that were as simple as can be in this contest. Marqui Christian came up to make a diving tackle on the RB with his teammates and was assessed an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the Ravens an extra 15 yards. Blake Countess was assessed the same penalty when the ball-carrier went low and with the crown of his helmet which left Countess no choice but to go low and use his shoulder to make the tackle. See, that right there is 30 yards of penalties you gave one team in a matter of minutes. This new rule is terrifying because the officials now have the game in the palm of their hand.
Multiple issues about the rule: A. You give the referee’s too much power, B. You put this rule all on defenders and not the ball-carriers, C. You slow down the game and D. You now give the defenders incentive to target and go for the player’s knees as opposed to making a normal tackle before. The rule is asinine and last night was just the start of a rule that will be mocked and made fun of all season long.