Training camp is right around the corner for the Los Angeles Rams. There will be plenty of position battles to watch, but what about the players that miss out? For them, making the practice squad is the next best thing to the final roster. Below are the top candidates for the 2019 practice squad.
RB John Kelly – 2nd Year Player, Tennessee
The first surprise of this list to some is none other than former sixth-round pick John Kelly. The Tennessee running back looked like he could be following the path of former teammate Alvin Kamara. Unfortunately, Kelly wasn’t able to see much of the field his rookie year. He was ineffective in the regular season and forced the Los Angeles Rams to sign C.J. Anderson off the street when Todd Gurley suffered his injury.
Kelly is still a talented player. It’s worth mentioning though that the Rams drafted Darrell Henderson in the third round, they possess one of the best running backs in the NFL in Gurley, they have one of the best backup running backs in Malcolm Brown, and they added an undrafted free agent in Matthew Colburn II from Wake Forest.
That’s not to mention Justin Davis has made the roster every season he’s been with the Rams. Gurley, Henderson, and Brown are locks to make the roster. Then Colburn has the talent and special teams ability. My prediction is that the Rams keep Colburn, cut Davis, and add Kelly to the practice squad.
WR Nsimba Webster – Undrafted Rookie, Eastern Washington
The former Eastern Washington wide receiver signed with the Los Angeles Rams this offseason as an undrafted rookie free agent. Unfortunately, the Rams roster is loaded with talent at the receiver position. It’s going to be difficult to cut both Webster and Alex Bachman.
I’m predicting that the Rams keep Bachman as the team’s primary returner and Webster gets added to the practice squad. Both are talented players, but Bachman provides more than JoJo Natson as a receiver which could be the deciding factor. The Rams will likely keep six receivers which will include Bachman and KhaDarel Hodge but they will look to keep one or two players on their practice squad.
TE Romello Brooker – Undrafted Rookie, Houston
The former Houston tight end could be primed to have a monstrous preseason if given the opportunity. With the likes of Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee all set on making the Los Angeles Rams roster, that leaves one spot with the potential of two left.
Brooker has a tough battle against the likes of Johnny Mundt, who made the roster last year, Texas State standout Keenen Brown, and Missouri’s Kendall Blanton. The Rams didn’t get enough out of Mundt last year to reserve a roster spot for him. However, Mundt, Brown, and Blanton all have a shot at the roster. Blanton went to the bigger school and had the most exposure, but keep an eye on Brown. The Texas State tight end graded out in the top ten of my 2019 NFL Draft tight end prospects. Due to that, Brooker grabs the practice squad role over Blanton.
Overall, Brooker is a better athlete, a better receiver, and has more upside than Blanton. It’s because of that he gets the edge on the practice squad.
OL Chandler Brewer – Undrafted Rookie, Middle Tennessee State
From battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma to making it into an NFL training camp, Chandler Brewer has gone through it all. The talented and athletic Middle Tennessee State product is ready to make an impact. He’s extremely valuable with his versatility to play four out of the five offensive line positions. Because of this, tRams will decide to add Brewer to the practice squad over the likes of Matt Kaskey and Brandon Hitner. Brewer’s athleticism is also worth betting on. This is someone a player that will use a year on the practice squad well and could make the 53-man roster next season.
C Vitas Hrynkiewicz – Undrafted Rookie, Youngstown State
A unique name but one that isn’t going anywhere. Vitas Hrynkiewicz is more likely than many think to make the 53-man roster. With that said, it’s going to be a battle for spots on the offensive line and if Hrynkiewicz barely misses the cut, he will be a practice squad option. When you look at the Los Angeles Rams offensive line, it’s one of the most upside-filled and depth-filled they have had in a long time. Jeremiah Kolone re-invented himself after going to the AAF and really playing at a high level. He was someone that was on the Rams training camp roster last year. I expect him to make the team leaving the Rams to throw the talented Hrynkiewicz onto the practice squad until next year.
DL Marquise Copeland – Undrafted Free Agent, Cincinnati
The Los Angeles Rams have a deep defensive line regardless if you are talking about their starters or their depth. San Jose product Boogie Roberts will have a good chance to make the team, leaving the Rams with very few spots. That leaves the former Cincinnati Bearcat Marquise Copeland to the practice squad. It’s a good fit for him as he’ll be able to get to in the building and learn from some of the best. Copeland is another player that could be stashed this year and pay off down the line.
LB Travin Howard – 2nd Year Player, TCU
Travin Howard is an athlete. The former TCU Hornfrog ran into some injury troubles that left him on the injured reserve last year. Howard signed a futures contract following the season and is ready to find a role with the Rams.
Howard could make some noise this preseason, however, the practice squad seems like the better spot as it will allow to him to develop after spending last season injured. Players like Natrez Patrick and Troy Reeder will have a better chance at a roster spot over Howard.
Howard’s upside and versatility is exactly why you would place him on the practice squad. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Rams place Howard on the practice squad and plan to call him up mid-way through the season.
CB Darious Williams – 2nd Year Player, UAB
The former Ravens draft pick out of UAB was picked up immediately by the Rams and stayed in their building the rest of the season. A team like the Ravens could sign Williams if the Rams cut him. That’s always the risk. However, if that doesn’t happen, Williams is exactly why they made the practice squad in the NFL.
Williams has raw talent, but the Rams don’t have the roster space to hang onto him for the time being. With Kevin Peterson, Troy Hill, Dominique Hatfield and David Long on the roster, spots at cornerback will be tough to come by. Williams doesn’t have a realistic shot of making this team but a practice squad year could lead to Williams being in the position to have a role next year with Talib and Peters expected to hit free agency.
DB Ramon Richards – 2nd Year Player, Oklahoma State
Richards can play any of the positions in the secondary and spent all of last year on the Rams practice squad. He could do the same in 2019. Richards will likely have a good preseason, but regardless how well he does, there isn’t room for him right now.
S Steven Parker – 2nd Year Player out of Oklahoma
The talented Steven Parker should make this roster, but the Rams will let the expiring contracts like Marqui Christian play while Parker, Richards, and Wiliams all sit out the year and develop. Parker is a hard-nosed player that has some ball skills to go with his ability to be a force in the middle of the field as a safety. If Parker makes the roster, expect potentially Nick Scott, the seventh-round pick out of Penn State, or even Jake Gervase the undrafted free agent out of Iowa to replace him in this spot.
Honorable Mention: Undrafted Rookie, EDGE Landis Durham, Texas A&M
Durham is arguably a better pass rusher than some of the players the Rams drafted last year. He will have a real shot at the roster and if the Rams cut him, there’s a good chance that he gets signed elsewhere. Durham is a player that exhibits good bend off of the edge, discipline to stay in his running lanes and consistency to not let any circumstances drop his overall production. Durham could have an interesting role to say the least this year.