The former undrafted rookie free agent out of Oklahoma finds himself in the Los Angeles Rams building a year later. Steven Parker made his presence known last year and came up just short of making the roster. Will the practice squad stud crack the 53-man roster this year? We’ll take a look at him and preview his 2019 campaign. (We spoke with him the last off-season here)
The 2018 NFL Draft came and went, the former Oklahoma Sooner starting safety Steven Parker did not hear his name called. That, however, did not stop him from chasing his dream to play in the NFL. Parker signed on with the Rams to compete for a spot on their 53-man roster. While Parker did fall just short of making the roster, the Rams were impressed. They offered him a practice squad spot out of the 10 available spots they had. Parker signed onto the Rams practice squad and ended up getting to take a team photo pre-Super Bowl.
The highest graded safeties in the NFL this preseason. pic.twitter.com/BMALucuwzh
— PFF (@PFF) September 4, 2018
It’s clear the Los Angeles Rams valued him as they made moves regarding their practice squad roster all season long. Still, not once, was he waived from the squad.
Parker is off to a good start as far as reputation among the Rams coaching staff but he’s got a ton of battling to do. He will need to prove himself this summer and it’s not going to be an easy feat. The Rams signed Eric Weddle and drafted Taylor Rapp who figure to be locks along with John Johnson III. That is three proverbial locks with maybe one or two roster spots remaining at the safety position.
That means Parker will be fighting seventh-round rookie draft pick Nick Scott, 2019 UDFA Jake Gervase, fellow practice squadmate from last year, Ramon Richards and a roster veteran Marqui Christian. Scott will pose a threat due to recency bias and draft status. Gervase will be listed below Parker, with no draft status. Richards will be on the same roster standing. While Christian will be ahead of him on the depth chart due to his NFL experience.
It will certainly be a fun roster battle to watch as Parker is someone that can apply himself on defense and special teams. Due to already being on the practice squad and being around these players and coaches all of last year. It’s safe to say the team likes Parker enough to give him significant snaps in the preseason. Also considering Parker is quite a special teams player, when the roster cutdowns come, Special teams coordinator John Fassel should definitely have him back in the war room.
Three Plays On Tape
— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) August 31, 2018
This is just a phenomenal interception by Steven Parker. J.T. Barrett is looking deep on 3rd and 11, while he does see Steven Parker, he simply believes he can get it to tight end Dan Arnold here. This tight window throw isn’t thrown particularly well but the play was made because of his range. Parker lays completely out to make a diving interception in front of the intended target. This is just a sample of the athleticism Parker possesses. He’s definitely an NFL caliber player.
— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) January 1, 2018
This sack was from the Rose Bowl and it’s a beauty for Steven Parker. It’s not relatively hard to run at a quarterback as a free runner that doesn’t see you coming. However, it does show off the overall speed and awareness he has as a player. Parker is able to maneuver around the running back which is Sony Michel on this play. In doing so, Parker is able to turn the corner and sack Jake Fromm.
— Andrew Carter (@Andrew__Carter) November 22, 2015
This pass deflection ends up winning the Sooners a nailbiter of a game against their conference rival TCU. Steven Parker covers a ton of ground here and decides to gamble here. He leaves his assignment to come up and literally block the quarterback from throwing the game-winning touchdown pass.
Can Parker ultimately make Los Angeles Rams 53-man roster?
Steven Parker was one of the highest graded safeties in the preseason last year according to Pro Football Focus. However, Parker still just missed a spot on the roster and was signed to the practice squad, he remained there all season long. Can he get over the hump even with two drafted and one signed safety? That’s going to be difficult. Right now, I think the Los Angeles Rams would sign him to the practice squad yet, again, to keep him in the building.
Eric Weddle isn’t exactly going to be in the way of anyone’s path to the roster for the long-term. Weddle is a short-term option, Taylor Rapp is a long-term and John Johnson will need to be re-signed, which is something the Rams normally don’t do. The Rams rarely pay their safeties and that should also include Marqui Christian. So, with that being said, Parker could have a future with the Rams if he’s willing to buy into one more season on the practice squad.
2019 Outlook and Role
Parker will be in need of a stellar preseason to try and crack the final roster. For a second-straight season, he definitely seems likely to end up on the practice squad. He’s absolutely worthy of being on an NFL roster but when you factor in the kind of roster he’s trying to make, it’s easy to see why it’s hard to make the cut.
His role in 2019 should be an expected practice squad safety that can be promoted in case of an injury at any time. If Parker indeed signs with the Rams practice squad again, I would expect him to have a shot to play in an actual NFL game this season in some capacity.
Chances of Making the Final Roster
Parker definitely has a chance but it’s all dependent on the Rams long-term plan. Before the NFL draft, Parker might have been a lock on paper to make the roster in my mind. However, fast-forward to the additions of Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott. Now, that ideology seems very murky. Regardless of the rookies, Marqui Christian seems to be the real deciding factor. If the Rams do not want to bring back Christian, who played 353 snaps last year in his biggest role ever. That would surely put Parker in a prime position to make the team.
In conclusion, I love Parker, I had the opportunity to speak with him on our podcast. I think Parker is going to be a good player in this league as he’s only 23-years old. However, I think he’s a year away from the Rams bringing him onto the roster. I see another practice squad appearance in his future and if he’s patient he will be on the Rams roster in 2020. However, if Parker decides to leave and not re-up with the Rams practice squad, he could certainly find an immediate role for another team.
The question Parker has to answer. Would you rather wait another year to be apart of an elite team’s future or find more playing time right away with a lesser team? Either answer isn’t wrong in this business. One thing’s for certain, Parker is in a perfect spot in Los Angeles and can continue to grow with the Rams whether it’s the 53-man roster or the practice squad.