Los Angeles Rams 90-Man Roster Preview: Running Back Malcolm Brown

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02: Malcolm Brown #34 of the Los Angeles Rams runs for yardage against Darius Slay #23 of the Detroit Lions and Jarrad Davis #40 during the first half at Ford Field on December 2, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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One player who was underratedly missed last season from the Los Angeles Rams was running back Malcolm Brown. The running back out of Texas broke his clavicle in a Week 13 game against the Detroit Lions. When Todd Gurley went down with his knee injury, instead of going to Brown, the Rams were forced to insert Justin David and John Kelly. Neither found much success and the team went on to sign CJ Anderson.

As a restricted free agent, Brown was given an offer sheet from the Detroit Lions which was then matched by the Rams. That should tell you just how much the Rams value him. Brown’s 2018 was his best season yet as he had 212 yards on 43 carries, averaging 4.9 yards per carry.

General manager Les Snead did draft Darrell Henderson in the third round, but even still, Brown will have a role in the Rams offense.

2018 season

After solidifying his place as Todd Gurley’s backup, Brown went on to what would have been a career year. His 3.58 carries per game were down from the year before, but his 4.9 yards per carry were a career high. Brown also scored his second career touchdown – first career receiving touchdown – in the Rams’ Week 9 loss against the Saints.

Against the Detroit Lions in Week 13, Brown would break his clavicle and be place on IR.

Roster Battle

Brown should have a roster spot locked up, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be competing in camp. The Rams drafted Darrell Henderson in the third round of the draft. Henderson brings an explosive, play-making presence that, outside of Gurley, the team hasn’t had. Henderson has drawn comparison’s to Alvin Kamara, and while Brown is good, he just isn’t that type of athlete.

Even still, Brown is as consistent and stable as they get at the running back position. He’d start on many team, but because the Rams have Gurley, he is the backup. Henderson will take some touches away from Brown. However, with the Rams looking to preserve Gurley and take a load off of their star running back, Brown will still play a role in the running game.

Three Plays on Tape

This right here is what makes Malcolm Brown so valuable and what the Rams missed the most when Gurley went down – his pass protection. Pass protection for a running back doesn’t come easily, but in the NFL, it’s something that needs to be done.

This is why McVay trusts Brown and why the running back out of Texas has had a stranglehold on the No.2 spot behind Gurley. When called upon, Brown can come in, whether it be a pass play or a run play, and execute. Being able to pass protect can help keep the defense unbalanced because it keeps the option open for a passing play instead of simply expecting a run.

He does’t get a lot of recognition as a pass catcher, but Brown can certainly do it. Last season against the Saints, Brown recorded his first touchdown reception. Brown keeps his eye on the quarterback and doesn’t give up despite the play breaking down. He then makes the catch as well as an incredible play on the sideline to score.

As Sosa says, Brown has zero business getting yards here. However, that’s exactly what he does. Brown does a nice job of cutting towards the backside rather than just running into the hole after nothing is in front of him initially. Wide receiver Josh Reynolds gets just enough of his block, but center John Sullivan is unable to get to the second level quick enough to stop the incoming linebacker, Jarrad Davis. Yet, Brown is able to spin away and get a few extra yards.

Biggest Question

The biggest question for Brown heading into 2019 will be how he comes back from his injury as well as what role he’s going to have in the offense with the emergence of Darrell Henderson.

Brown’s injury was an 8-10 week injury and therefore, because he’s had the full offseason, he’s had plenty of time to rehab.

However, with three running backs that are capable of starting, it’s going to be interesting to see how McVay splits their time. Todd Gurley have a prominent role even if the Rams dial it back a little bit. Henderson brings so much versatility and big-play ability, it’s hard to not see him get a decent amount of touches.

Initially, I could see Brown remaining as the prominent No. 2 back with Henderson taking more and more of his snaps as he gets more comfortable and McVay gains more confidence in him. Brown will still come in to give Gurley a break when he needs it, but that could become more Henderson as the season goes on.

2019 Outlook and Role

The Rams brought back Brown and it wasn’t something they had to do. The Lions put in an offer sheet and the Rams matched it to bring Brown back. That should say a lot as to how the Rams value him.

As mentioned, Brown will still have a role in the offense. The Rams have said that they want to take a load off of Gurley and Brown is going to play a role in that because of his ability not only running the ball, but also in pass protection.

At the end of the day, Darrell Henderson is a rookie. Brown is currently listed at the No. 2 running back on the team’s depth chart on ESPN.com. Because of that, I see Brown initially starting the season as the team’s No. 2 back with Henderson slowly getting more touches as the season goes on.

Chances of Making Final Roster

Malcolm Brown is 100% making the final roster. Last season, fans might not have been so sure, however, Brown has solidified himself as the team’s backup running back. The Rams went out and matched his offer sheet from the Lions. It’s obvious the team missed him last season when he was out with an injury and they’re excited to have him back.

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