Los Angeles Rams Training Camp Preview: Five Potential Surprise Cuts

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Dec 23, 2018; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Austin Blythe (66) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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The offseason is quickly coming to a close. Los Angeles Rams training camp begins next week with the rookies reporting on Wednesday (July  24) and the veterans on Friday (July 26). The Rams will enter with one of their deepest rosters in recent memory, meaning roster spots are not a given. Here are five potential surprise cuts that the Rams could make come August.

RB John Kelly

The Rams selected John Kelly out of Tennessee last season in the sixth-round. However, after an impressive preseason, he disappointed in the regular season. When Malcolm Brown and Todd Gurley went down with an injury, the Rams were forced to sign CJ Anderson off the street.

The Rams drafted Kelly to be a change of pace and receiving back. However, in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Rams selected Darrell Henderson out of Memphis to take that role. With Gurley, Brown, and Henderson locks to make the roster and undrafted running back Matt Colburn out of  Wake Forest in the mix, Kelly will have to steal the show the preseason to earn a spot on the final-53.

WR Mike Thomas

This list will get bolder as we go on, but Mike Thomas’ time with the Rams seems to be coming to an end. The former sixth-round pick was suspended the first four games of 2017 after an impressive camp. He then spent all of last year on injured reserve.

The Rams have one of the deeper wide receiver groups in the league, and unfortunately for Thomas, he no longer seems to be apart of the big picture. Alex Backman, KhaDarel Hodge, JoJo Natson, and others will be competing for the final roster spots, leaving no room for Thomas.

EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

The Rams took Okoronkwo in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft with high hopes after he earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors while recording eight sacks. However, the former Oklahoma Sooner was placed on the PUP list and had foot surgery before training camp.

Despite being active on the roster by November, Okoronkwo didn’t play a single snap during the season.

There’s no question that the Rams need help at edge rusher. However, with players like Dante Fowler Jr., Clay Matthews, Samson Ebukam, and John Franklin-Myers, it’s already a crowded position with upside. That doesn’t even include Justin Lawler or Trevon Young who brings speed.

Okoronkwo is favored to make the final roster. However, a disappointing camp and he’ll be on his way out.

OL Austin Blythe

Blythe was one of the best guards in the NFL through the first half of the season. However, his play took a considerable drop in the second half. After allowing just two quarterback hits through the first 12 games, Blythe allowed six in the final seven games. After allowing 12 pressures in the first eight games, he allowed 25 in the last 10, including three games in which he allowed four or more.

Through 14 weeks, Blythe was ranked a top-10 guard in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus and was in the top-3 through 12 weeks. However, while he was the No. 3 guard in the season’s first half of the season, Blythe graded as the 29th ranked guard in the second half and playoffs. If you take Week 13 (after the bye) on, he was No. 37.

As is the case with Marcus Peters,  Austin Blythe’s 2018 season is a tale of two halves. He went from one of the best guards in the NFL to below average and being a liability.

The Rams traded up in the third round to take Bobby Evans. They drafted David Edwards. Jamil Demby has been playing every position on the offensive line. The Rams signed three priorty undrafted free agent offensive linemen.

Something isn’t right here, and don’t forget that the Rams straight-up traded Jamon Brown last season after Blythe showed what he was capable of instead of keeping him as depth.

Blythe showed that he could succeed in the NFL, but he also displayed that he can be a massive liability. If he continues 2019 how he finished 2018, don’t be surprised if the Rams cut him given the depth that they do have.

TE Tyler Higbee

It wasn’t that long ago that the Los Angeles Rams would have taken a sixth-round pick in exchange for Tyler Higbee from the Minnesota Vikings. The Rams typically don’t use two tight ends and use  11 personnel more than any team in the league.

In 2017 the Rams used a second-round draft pick on Gerald Everett. Everett now enters his third season is looking to take that next step as the team’s clear cut No. 1 tight end. The Rams also signed three priority undrafted free agent tight ends in Romello Brooker,  Keenan Brown, and Kendall Blanton.

If two of those players have a good preseason and good camp, the Rams could trade Higbee, or cut him. While Higbee’s blocking has improved, it still isn’t his strong suit, and he isn’t a dominant pass catcher. The Rams have Johnny Mundt as a blocking tight end, and all three undrafted tight ends bring high potential as receiving threats. This cut is the biggest longshot on this list, but it’s possible because of Everett’s continued development.

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