Los Angeles Rams 90-Man Roster Preview: Center Aaron Neary

by Jake Ellenbogen
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The troubled 26-year-old center Aaron Neary is on the Los Angeles Rams for the time being after being picked up in 2017. Neary will compete for a backup role, but after an  arrest for a misdemeanor DUI and hit and run last season and now violating the league’s substance abuse policy, resulting in a four-game suspension early this offseason, Neary will have a lot to prove in order for him to secure a roster spot on the roster.

We continue our roster preview series with Aaron Neary.

2018 Season

Neary was cut before the 2018 season but placed on the practice squad after the Cleveland Browns claimed and promptly waived him not even a week later. The Rams added him to their practice squad the next week.

He would remain on the Rams practice squad the whole season despite his midseason arrest. Neary signed a reserve/future contract with the Rams immediately following conclusion of the 2018 season.

Roster Battle

The battle for Neary due to his recent suspension becomes tricky because he’s already on the roster bubble. However, the Rams have proven to be patient and understanding of their players when they have been forced to deal with a suspension.

In the Les Snead era alone, the Rams have allowed players such as wide receiver Stedman Bailey, offensive guard Jamon Brown, cornerback Troy Hill, and wide receiver Mike Thomas come back and compete despite being ineligible to play in the early portion of the year.

Neary’s battle lies at center, but he has the versatility to play guard which adds to his value. However with the amount of talent the Rams have at guard, it’s Neary will have a better chance at making the final roster at  center.

Ahead of Neary on the depth chart is only Brian Allen. AAF standout Jeremiah Kolone also has a case, but Neary has started a game for the Rams at the center, giving him added experience.

After Allen and Kolone, Youngstown State undrafted rookie, Vitas Hrynkiewicz, will also compete for a spot. You may not be able to spell or pronounce his name, but he’s a talented player that shouldn’t be looked over.

The positives for Neary’s journey result in the fact that he’s 26-years old and he’s started a game for the Rams. However, the negatives lie with a run-in with law enforcement. Neary isn’t a player that has proven himself as a starter. If the backup is unreliable, the Rams may go in another direction.

Looking  at the other players that Nearly is competing with, Allen is a player that the team loves, Kolone started games in the AAF, and Hrynkiewicz has upside. It’s safe to say, Neary has a battle and his four-game suspension has done him no favors.

Three Plays on Tape

Aaron Neary 1

Nothing too special here but, Neary completely seals off his assignment. John Kelly chose to bounce this run to the outside, but it’s still a quality rep for Neary.

Aaron Neary 2

This is a special play by Neary. Watch Kelly make his cut near the line of scrimmage. Neary takes his defender  and completely blocks him off of the screen. Neary pulls hard and gets all the way to the right side of the field, taking the defender completely out of the play. This big play by Kelly would not have happened without Neary’s initial block.

Aaron Neary 3

This isn’t the greatest rep in the world but the reason I like it for Neary is that I think it showcases the athlete he is. He is able to get upfield and onto the second level with ease. Neary has a nasty edge to him, but he needs to play with that consistency. He simply misjudged the direction the defender was going in so he made the mistake of setting his feet. It would have been interesting if Neary went full speed at that group of Ravens defenders. The hesitation from Neary is one of the biggest reasons this play didn’t keep going. Kelly has a head full of steam and perhaps could have broken a tackle if Neary took two would-be tacklers out of the play.

Biggest Question

How much do the Rams like Aaron Neary?
He played really well in preseason last year but he comes with baggage. Could the Rams give Hrynkiewicz a longer look because of this? Perhaps. Last season the Rams cut Jamon Brown after his suspension after Austin Blythe provedhis worth. Neary’s baggage puts him on thin ice with the Rams.

2019 Outlook and Role

Neary’s role is very cloudy at this point. As previously mentioned, Neary has to serve a four-game suspension. If he makes the roster after those four games, that would mean the Rams let go of one of their 53-man roster guys to add someone that can’t stay out of trouble. His role if the Rams decide to keep him would likely be the backup to Brian Allen. He could also end up back on the practice squad.

Chances of Making the Final Roster

The chance of Neary missing the cut and not making the 53-man roster are very high. The Rams know they can keep him on the suspended list which doesn’t go against the 53-man roster. Just because he’s still on the team after the preseason due to the suspension, doesn’t mean he won’t get cut afterwards. If the Rams suffer an injury bug, having Neary stashed is beneficial. That’s why Neary will make it until week five and then the Rams will have to waive him and sign him to the practice squad.
Neary is a solid depth piece with some upside and athleticism. However, the best and most important ability in any sport is availability, and that is not something that Neary has proven to be.
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