Despite already having five solid running backs on their roster, the Los Angeles Rams went and signed undrafted free agent Matt Colburn II as an undrafted free agent after the draft.
Colburn faces an uphill battle when it comes to making the final-53 man roster, but if he can impress in camp and the preseason and show special teams value, there’s no reason he can’t take the final running back spot.
Colburn will join former Deacons Alex Bachman and John Woolford in camp.
Colburn led Wake Forest in rushing as a junior and senior. He finished his career ranked sixth in school history with 2,528 rushing yards, and his 542 career carries are the eighth-best in program history.
As a freshman, Colburn only recorded 66 carries but broke out as a sophomore. His 151 rushing attempts and 626 yards were both career highs. He once again improved as a junior, eclipsing the 900-rushing yards mark. An ankle injury derailed his senior season, however, he still managed to rush for 775 yards on 159 carries.
The Wake Forest running back went undrafted, but playing with a chip on his shoulder is nothing new. Colburn was supposed to go to Louisville, but Bobby Petrino retracted his scholarship offer right before signing day. This season when Colburn faced Louisville, he rushed for has 243 yards and three touchdowns on the road against Petrino’s Cardinals.
Colburn isn’t the biggest guy at 5’10, 200 pounds, but he’s the type of hard-working player that will catch on with an NFL team.
The final running back spot will come down to three guys if the Rams do decide to keep four. Colburn will be competing with John Kelly and Justin Davis for the final spot. Kelly was a sixth-round pick last season while Davis will be going into his third year with the team.
For Colburn to earn a roster spot, he’s going to need to impress in camp as well as prove himself on special team. Kelly made the roster last season but found himself inactive the first 13 weeks of the season, and much of that was because he had no special teams value.
Colburn, meanwhile, has experience as a kick returner as he had four returns for 64 yards as a freshman. However, he didn’t record any special teams tackles in his time at Wake Forest. With his back already against the wall when it comes to making the roster, there is little doubt that it is something that Colburn should be willing to do. If he can prove his value there, the Rams might make a spot for him.
Three Plays on Tape
Matt Colburn throws the L up to the 16 fans in the end zone seats. pic.twitter.com/lhRIYFcmqG
— Dave Lackford, Esq. (@RivalsDave) October 27, 2018
This play comes from Colburn’s big game against Louisville last season. You can see he doesn’t have the breakaway speed, but he’s able to find the hole and sprint for a touchdown. It’s plays on film like this that remind you of Phillip Lindsay last season in Denver.
Wake Forrest RB Matt Colburn smashing ?️ on y'all with the slick spin. pic.twitter.com/czFkqUoPrg
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) September 19, 2018
Something that stands out about Colburn is just how quick and light he is on his feet. Here he once again finds the hole and then spins away from linebacker. He’s able to then make quick adjustments with his feet to gain an extra 15 yards past the cornerback.
And just like that…@WakeFB takes the lead 14-7 after a short TD run by Matt Colburn.#ACC pic.twitter.com/2Ux2CTdiez
— FOX Sports South (@FOXSportsSouth) November 11, 2017
This play is where Colburn is going to show some value – goal line situations. Like mentioned earlier, he isn’t a big back by any means, but he’s built like Michael Turner in the sense that he’s a bowling ball. On this play, you can see his patience as he waits for the hole to open up on the outside zone. He hits the hole with purpose and runs in to score.
The biggest question for Colburn is if he is going to to be able to stand out in camp. There’s little doubt that he has the ability, but it just so happens that the Rams running back group is deep.
He’s going to need to be able to stand out on special teams as well as running back if he wants to make the roster, and even that may not be enough. The Rams drafted Sam Rogers in the sixth round two years ago, and after spending a year on the practice squad, they waived him last May.
2019 Outlook and Role
Colburn’s goal should be to make the roster and hopefully land a spot on special teams. If he can become a contributor on special teams and be able to dress on game days, that should be a success.
Chances of Making Final Roster
It’s going to be an uphill climb for Colburn, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Colburn has a good chance of making the roster if he can prove himself as a runner and special teams.
The fact of the matter is, John Kelly showed little outside of the preseason last year and was inactive the first 13 weeks of the season. His ineffectiveness as a runner after Todd Gurley‘s injury was a big reason the team went out to sign CJ Anderson.
Then, there is Justin Davis, who is going into his third year with the team. Like Kelly, he hasn’t shown a lot outside of the preseason. If Colburn can outperform them both and prove his value, he will have a legitimate shot to be on the final-53.