Mon. Jul 22nd, 2019

Los Angeles Rams 90-Man Roster Preview: Tight End Romello Brooker

Romello Brooker

Photo Credit: USA Today

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The Los Angeles Rams will be looking to get more out of the tight end position in 2019. Outside of Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee, there is plenty of opportunity for someone to separate as the No. 3 guy. After the NFL Draft, the Rams went out and signed Houston tight end Romello Booker. With the Brooker signing, the Rams hope that he can develop into another receiving threat. Brooker will have plenty of competition with fellow undrafted free agents Keenan Brown and Kendall Blanton.

College Career

Brooker began his career at Houston by getting red-shirted as a freshman in 2014. He then played mainly on special teams in his first season of action as a redshirt sophomore. It took patience, but the tight end finally got his shot as a fifth-year senior.

The Cougar tight end exploded onto the scene in his final year at Houston, coming off of a career year. After just nine career receptions, he recorded 33 as a redshirt senior while tallying 409 yards and seven touchdowns.

His seven touchdown led the American conference his seven touchdowns led all tight ends in The American conference. He also ranked second among tight ends in the with six receptions of at least 20 yards. Brooker closed out his career with four receptions for 45 yards and one touchdown in the Armed Forces Bowl against Army.

According to Pro Football Focus, Brooker recorded an 80.5 Pass Block grade which ranked eighth among tight ends last season. Quarterbacks also had a 140.6 passer rating when targeting him.

His lack of production in his overall career at  Houston was a reason for his drop in the NFL Draft ranks. However, there is little doubt that Brooker could be a diamond in the rough.

The tight end for the Cougars had a career season to put himself on the NFL radar. As a side note, Brooker mentioned Dakota Allen as the toughest player he faced last season in an interview with Draft Diamonds, “He is a very smart player and smart players are the hardest players to go against and win the one on one battles.”

In the same interview, he compared his playing style to Jordan Reed who Rams head coach Sean McVay coached while with the Washington Redskins, “I focus on running the best routes, great hands, and my lengthy stride helps me get behind the defense. We also have similar size and desire to block well.”

At 6’2 and 240-lbs, Brooker possesses the substantial size and shows strength and potential as a blocker. He’s not going to excite many with his speed, but he’s a proven, dependable pass-catcher that can be a threat in the red zone.

Roster Battle

It’s hard to say how many tight ends the Rams will keep. Everett and Higbee will have the top-2 spots on lockdown, but Johnny Mundt, Kendall Blanton, Keenan Brown, and Brooker will all compete for the potential third and fourth spots.

Mundt excels as a blocker but doesn’t add a lot in the passing game. He’s also going into his third year with the team. Brooker meanwhile is in the same position as Blanton and Brown, coming in as an undrafted free agent.

The Rams have been looking for that third tight end. While he doesn’t have a lot of experience, Brooker has the tools to be a developmental tight end over the next two years. He might be a project, but he’ll still need to prove he’s a project that’s worth the investment.

Three Plays on Tape

This play shows how much of a threat Brooker can be in the red zone. He finds the gap between the tackle and the guard, losing the linebacker in the process. Brooker ends up wide open in the middle of the end zone.

Brooker lines up in the slot on this play and runs a beautiful wheel route. Here you can see that he doesn’t have that breakaway speed, but also his ability and threat as a receiver. His lack of production at Houston had more to do with usage than it did talent.

This is a fantastic throw by Clayton Tune, putting the ball only where Brooker can catch it. Again, you see the threat that Brooker can be in the red zone. The Houston tight end caught 33 passes last season, and seven of those went for touchdowns. That’s a pretty good percentage.

Biggest Question

Like the other three undrafted tight ends, the question is, can Romello Brooker make an early impact and make the roster?

It’s hard to put expectations on an undrafted free agent outside of just making the roster. However, Brooker has the special teams experience from early in his career at Houston and seemed to find his way as a receiver and red zone threat in his final season.

If he can show promise on special teams and show that he is worth taking a risk on as a tight end, there’s little doubt that he has the talent and ability to make the final-53.

2019 Outlook and Role

Brooker’s goal needs to be to make the roster or get on the practice squad. The Rams have the contract of Tyler Higbee expiring at the end of the year. Brooker’s potential is being that second or third tight end for an NFL team. If he can get with a team like the Rams that has a high-powered offense with an excellent offensive coach like the Rams, and coach like McVay that has experience with a player like Brooker, he may have a future with the team beyond 2019.

Chances of Making the Final Roster

Brooker will be seen as a long shot to make the roster, but don’t be surprised to hear his name throughout camp and the preseason. When it comes to the undrafted tight ends, Brooker might be right there with Brown when it comes to the favorites to win that final tight end spot.

As it always does with players who are on the bubble, it comes down to showing what you can do in the preseason and making an impact on special teams. Brooker doesn’t have the desired experience, but the ability to be a threat in the red zone and take over for Higbee post-2019 is there.

 

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