Quest for the Perfect 53: Undrafted Free Agency Edition

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With the 2019 NFL Draft well in the rear view, and optimism at an all time high, it is time to figure out who is going to make up the final 53 man roster. There will be obvious roster spot locks, impact rookies and surprise cuts along the way, but what under the radar prospects have the best chance of sticking on the roster and making a surprise impact for the Los Angeles Rams on their quest for a super bowl title? This brings us to the newly signed 2019 NFL Draft undrafted free agents. Widely vital and drastically overlooked, these are the players who surprise every year to make a significant impact on almost every team. From this year’s crop, who has the best chance of making an immediate impact? Here are a few players to keep an eye on.

 

 

 

Undrafted Free Agents

 

WR Alex Bachman, Wake Forest

TE Kendall Blanton, Missouri

OT Chandler Brewer, Middle Tennessee

TE Romello Brooker, Houston

TE Keenen Brown, Texas State

RB Matt Colburn, Wake Forest

DT Marquise Copeland, Cincinnati

DE Landis Durham, Texas A&M

DB Jake Gervase, Iowa

WR Jalen Greene, Utah State

OT Brandon Hitner, Villanova

C Vitas Hrynkiewicz, Youngstown State

DT Bryant Jones, Mississippi Valley State

OT Matt Kaskey, Dartmouth

WR Johnathan Lloyd, Duke

LB Natrez Patrick, Georgia

OT Justice Powers, UAB

LB Troy Reeder, Delaware

DT Boogie Roberts, San Jose State

WR Justin Sumpter, Kennesaw State

DT Tyrell Thompson, Tarleton State

WR Nsimba Webster, Eastern Washington

 

Troy Reeder, LB, Delaware

 

The Los Angeles Rams saw starting Inside linebacker Mark Barron sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers this off season. Viewed as a high priority for the Rams during the 2019 NFL Draft, they chose to not pull the trigger on a linebacker until Dakota Allen (Texas Tech) in the Seventh round, passing several times on players such as Alabama’s Mack Wilson and Minnesota’s Blake Cashman. Are the Rams contempt with starting second year pro Micah Kiser in the spot opposite Cory Littleton? What will the depth look like behind them? Either way, this leaves a huge opportunity for one of the Rams undrafted free agent linebackers to make a push to capture a roster spot.

 

Troy Reeder from the University of Delaware is a player that began his career at Penn State University. After finishing with 66 tackles for the Nittany Lions as a redshirt freshman, Reeder decided to transfer to Delaware to play with his younger brother Colby. The 6’2” 245 pound Reeder ended his career as a Blue Hen with 131 tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss as a senior.

 

On the field, Reeder demonstrates a fantastic feel for the game, seeming to always take the proper angle to the ball carrier, whether he is filling against the run inside, or pursuing to the perimeter. With enough functional athleticism, Reeder is a solid fit as an inside backer in the Rams base 3-4 defense. Chances of making the team? Relatively high.

 

Marquise Copeland, DT, Cincinnati

 

Another potential departure this off season, Ndamukong Suh is still sitting out there in free agency. However it seems like a long shot that the Rams make a move to bring him back for another year. This leaves a huge void inside, with players like Greg Gaines and Tanzel Smart eyeing the starting nose tackle position. Outside of the two time defensive player of the year Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers, there is a whole bunch of uncertainty amongst the front three. This leaves a huge opportunity for undrafted free agency to add a roster spot under their belt.

 

Perhaps one of the most intriguing options added after the 2019 NFL Draft this year, Cincinnati’s Marquise Copeland demonstrates a world of possibility. At 6’2″ and 287 pounds, Copeland presents an odd fit into the Rams odd man front that would essentially prefer length and anchor ability outside of the penetrating force of Donald. Despite this awkward size profile, Copeland displays a ton of tantalizing athletic traits on film. Copeland will never be a prototype two gapping option.

 

However, he can provide a similar playing profile to what Donald brings to the Rams. He has impressive lateral and vertical movement skills that present potential in a penetration role. Training camp will be huge for Copeland to make some splash plays in order for Copeland to stick. His difference stylistically to players like Greg Gaines and Smart could be his saving grace to making the roster. He could potentially add a different element that no one besides Donald can bring to the roster. Chances of making the team? Moderate. 

 

Keenen Brown, TE, Texas State

 

The Rams have a couple solid contributors in Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee at the tight end position. Both players have flashed potential from time to time, but have failed to deliver at a consistent rate. I’m still holding out hope for Everett, who possesses a tantalizing blend of athleticism and run after catch ability. Still, adding in another talented pass catcher into the mix can never hurt.

 

After starting his career at Oklahoma State, Keenen Brown spent his final season at Texas State as a graduate transfer. Brown flourished in his lone season, being named All-Sun Belt First team and a first team all American by Pro Football Focus. As a player, Brown presents an intriguing option as a catch and run player who has some eye popping YAC ability. Highly unlikely to unseat Higbee or Everett, there is a realistic path for Brown to make the roster. Chances of making the team? Moderate. 

 

Brandon Hitner, OL, Villanova

 

Brandon Hitner spent the majority of his Villanova career at the right tackle position, with some time also inside at guard. This presents a ton of developmental possibilities for Hitner, who has a relatively high upside as he transitions to the next level. Standing at 6’6” and 305 pounds, Hitner possesses an intriguing blend of athleticism for a man of his size. There is even some thought that the former Wildcat may have the skill set needed to transition to the center position.

 

This versatility can be a huge bonus to a Rams team that is going to be breaking in two new starting offensive linemen and left guard (probably Joe Noteboom) and center (most likely Brian Allen). Outside of the fortunes of these two second year pros, the Rams are lacking in depth along the interior. Whether it is on the active roster or a practice squad spot, Hitner is the type of high upside piece that could present a legit option to stick on the roster. Chances of making the team? Moderately high. 

 

Matt Kaskey, OL, Dartmouth

 

Hitner is the much more likely addition to the Rams roster amongst the undrafted free agents.However, I just had to include Matt Kaskey into this discussion. The 6’7″, 325 pound offensive linemen out of Dartmouth spent the majority of his career manning the blind side for the Big Green. Despite the fantastic size and length, Kaskey may not possess the lateral mobility as a mirror player to transition on the edge at the next level. What he does bring to the game is a nasty disposition, with the ability to bully defenders in the run game.

 

Some of the more fun film I had the pleasure of viewing, Kaskey serves up more pancakes than just about anyone. With a potential full time move inside to guard imminent, Kaskey is in a solid position of uncertainty for the Rams. Austin Blythe asserted himself as the starting right guard for the Rams last season. Despite some solid play, Blythe really struggled down the stretch. Especially in their super bowl loss to the New England Patriots that has some fans clamoring for competition at the spot.

 

There is even larger concern at the left guard position, where the Rams will be introducing a first time starter at the NFL level. Whether that is Joe Noteboom, or one of the two rookie draft picks (Oklahoma’s Bobby Evans and Wisconsin’s David Edwards), there is a large portion of uncertainty in the interior. While Kaskey may be a long shot to challenge inside, he possesses the temperament and play style to get a realistic look. Chances of making the team? Little but incredibly hopeful. 

 

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