Wrapping up the running backs in our Los Angeles Rams 90-man roster preview is third-year player Justin Davis. Out of USC, Davis has been the last running back on the Rams’ depth chart over the previous two years. With the team drafting Darrell Henderson and signing Matt Colburn, Davis will need to prove himself if he wants to make the final-53.
Davis joined the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and shocked many when he made the roster not just as a rookie, but last season as well. The former USC running back recorded two carries for 19-yards last season; however, it was one carry against the Chicago Bears that got him all 19 of those yards.
The third-year back hasn’t shown much on offense during the regular season, although he was active in 11 games last season.
It will be a three-man race for the final running back spot if the Rams do indeed decide to keep four. Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, and Henderson will each have the top-3 spots locked up while John Kelly, Davis, and Colburn battle for the final spot.
Davis is the most experienced out of the group as he will be going into his third year. He was also active in 11 games last season to John Kelly’s four. However, when Todd Gurley went down with his injury last season and Brown was out it was Kelly, not Davis, that got the first shot at the starting position.
When Kelly proved to be ineffective, the Rams went out to sign C.J. Anderson.
Davis faces an uphill climb when it comes to making the final roster, but that’s not a situation in which he is unfamiliar. That was the case as a rookie in 2017 when the Rams had Aaron Green and again last season after the Rams drafted Kelly.
This is someone that the coaching staff is familiar with, and when it comes to making the final roster, that could go a long way.
Three Plays On Tape
This goes back to Davis’ rookie season, but it’s pretty obvious to see what the Rams saw. You can see Davis hits the hole with purpose and picks up 16 yards. Davis has had success like this throughout his career in the preseason.
This next play came from the preseason last year and once again you can see just how quick Davis is. This is good blocking downfield from the Rams offensive line and the receivers, but Davis is quick to get to the outside and turn upfield.
This final play comes from one of Davis’ two regular season carries last year. This is late in the game with under a minute left, but the Bears are expecting the run. The Rams spread out the Chicago defense to open up room inside. Davis displays good vision as he see the hole open up on the backside of the counter and he hits it. Instead of taking the easy two-yard gain to finish the game, Davis cuts this back and picks up 19.
The Rams are looking to take a load off of Todd Gurley, and the question is whether or not Davis defy the odds again and be apart of that plan. In 2017 many expected Aaron Green to make the roster over Davis and after drafting Kelly last year, few expected him to make the roster again.
For a third-straight year, Davis will go into training camp as the underdog to make the roster. Will Davis show that he has continued to improve going into his third year, or will the Rams move in another direction?
2019 Outlook and Role
Last season, Davis was active in 11 games, however, when Gurley went down, it was John Kelly who got the majority of the carries before the team signed C.J. Anderson. Davis is going to need to show that he has continued to develop and can be relied on if his number is called.
Even if he does make the roster, Davis will continue to be a depth guy. He’s been incredibly effective the last two years in the preseason but needs to translate that to the regular season.
Chances of Making Final Roster
It’s going to be very difficult for Davis to make the final roster. He’s been effective in the preseason and was active in 11 games last year, but when both Gurley and Brown went down with injuries, it was Kelly and Anderson who the team called on.
The Rams also bring in undrafted rookie Matt Colburn who will undoubtedly be battling for a roster spot and shouldn’t be slept on.
What Davis has going for him is that outside of Gurley and Brown, he is the most experienced running back on the roster. That won’t be enough to make the final-53, however, given the talent and depth at the position. Davis is going to need to show continued development and that he can be ready and be depended on if his number is called.