The cut day has come and gone for the NFL preseason and now it’s time to move onto the NFL regular season. The Los Angeles Rams along with 31 other teams around the league had the tough task of turning their 90-man roster into a finalized 53-man roster by Saturday at 4:00 pm Eastern time. Now that the Rams have finalized the roster, I will attempt to break it all down and grade it by each position.
Quarterback (2): Jared Goff, Blake Bortles
Practice Squad: John Wolford
Cut: Brandon Allen
Overall, I’m a big fan of the Rams quarterback situation. Los Angeles gets to have their franchise quarterback and a backup with 73 starts under his belt in the NFL. After the obvious two, the Rams decided to keep talented and mobile gunslinger John Wolford over the likes of conservative and older quarterback Brandon Allen. Allen was surprisingly claimed by the Denver Broncos and placed onto their 53-man roster while the Rams signed Wolford to their 10-man practice squad. In doing this, the Rams have one of the best starting quarterbacks in the league, one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league and an exciting developmental third quarterback that gets to stay in the building on the practice squad.
Running back (3): Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson
Practice Squad: John Kelly
Cut: Justin Davis, Matt Colburn
Perhaps the best running back room in the NFL, the Rams made a little bit of a shocking decision to only keep three running backs on their active roster. Luckily for Rams, John Kelly cleared waivers and was signed to the practice squad. Unfortunately for Justin Davis, he did not make the cut. A former undrafted running back out of USC that had spent two straight years on the active roster is officially out. As for the talented undrafted rookie out of Wake Forest, Matt Colburn also did not make the cut. One can assume that Davis or even Colburn could crack the practice squad at some point when the Rams do promote Kelly to the active roster. For now, the Rams have three running backs on the active roster and one on the practice squad.
Wide receiver (7): Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, Mike Thomas, JoJo Natson, Nsimba Webster
Cut: KhaDarel Hodge, Jalen Greene, Austin Proehl, Johnathan Lloyd
Injured Reserve: Alex Bachman
The Rams are four deep at wide receiver which is unheard of. Many talk about how the Vikings have two elite receivers, the Browns have two elite receivers and the Falcons have a great trio. There is not a four-man receiver group like the one in Los Angeles right now. With Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp all 1,000-yard per year caliber receivers that are just too hard to compete against. However, once you add Josh Reynolds into the fray, now we are cooking with gas. They are called the four-headed monster and they are coming to an NFL near you. After those four, the Rams decided to stick with 2016 sixth-round pick Mike Thomas, last year’s punt returner JoJo Natson and emerging undrafted rookie receiver Nsimba Webster. Keeping seven receivers is very rare in today’s game but the Rams weren’t ready to let go of the Eastern Washington product just yet. The biggest surprise was the roster cut of last year’s special teams stud KhaDarel Hodge. Hodge did not clear waivers and was immediately claimed by the Cleveland Browns.
As for the rest, Jalen Greene had a great fourth preseason game but it wasn’t enough to snag a spot on the practice squad. Austin Proehl spent last year on the Rams practice squad but unfortunately fell short this preseason. Johnathan Lloyd displayed some special teams ability but in the end, the Rams took no one back onto the practice squad from this position group. Alex Bachman, the Wake Forest standout landed on injured reserve and is expected to come to camp in 2020 and fight for a roster spot yet again. The big blow here was losing Hodge and it’s clear the Rams were only going to consider adding one receiver to the practice squad and that was Hodge.
Tight end (3): Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Johnny Mundt
Practice Squad: Kendall Blanton
Cut: Romello Brooker, Keenen Brown
Coming into training camp I was excited to see the killer B’s go at it in their quest to potentially upend Johnny Mundt and snag a spot on the active roster. Unfortunately, the only one who impressed in the slightest was Kendall Blanton, an undrafted rookie out of Missouri. He found himself on the practice squad because of it. However, it’s worth mentioning that Keenen Brown of Texas State never really received a chance in the preseason, he played a minimal amount of snaps near the end of the game and he played as more of an H-Back. Romello Brooker out of Houston was exciting red zone threat but in the preseason he fell short of impressing much with struggles in the blocking game and the receiving game.
All in all, Mundt was able to fend off the three hungry undrafted rookies and secure his spot on the roster for a second-straight year. The Rams now will have Blanton to develop and eventually try and take a spot on the active roster down the line. Aside from that though, the biggest gripe about this tight end room is the lack of true blocking. There’s not a Rhett Ellison or Lee Smith type of blocking specialist at tight end on this roster and it shows.
Offensive line (9): Andrew Whitworth, Joe Noteboom, Brian Allen, Austin Blythe, Rob Havenstein, Jamil Demby, Bobby Evans, David Edwards, Coleman Shelton
Practice Squad: Chandler Brewer, Jeremiah Kolone
Cut: Vitas Hrynkiewicz, Matt Kaskey, Brandon Hitner, Abdul Beecham
Suspended: Aaron Neary
It was pretty obvious coming in just who the Rams starters would be. After that, it was pretty obvious who they would keep as the backups behind those five. Third-round pick Bobby Evans, fifth-round pick David Edwards and last year’s sixth-rounder Jamil Demby. I felt as though Chandler Brewer did enough to make the 53-man roster but he does hit the practice squad. Jeremiah Kolone was impressive in the AAF but struggled with the Rams this preseason and I was a tad surprised to see him on the practice squad over Youngstown State rookie Vitas Hrynkiewicz who seemingly played better in the preseason. As for the rest, Matt Kaskey and Brandon Hitner were very disappointing while Abdul Beecham flashed in the lone game he was signed to play in and was unfortunately cut.
This is still a position that is very thin as far as depth is concerned. Don’t let the draft pick titles fool you. The Rams seriously lack the depth needed should any of their starters go down. It’s also worth mentioning how they are starting two first-year starters as well, they aren’t a guarantee although I’m extremely high on Joe Noteboom.
UPDATE: The Rams signed Washington product Coleman Shelton a center that was an undrafted rookie free agent last year to the 53-man roster.
Defensive line (6): Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Tanzel Smart, Morgan Fox, Greg Gaines
Practice Squad: Marquise Copeland
Cut: John Franklin-Myers, Boogie Roberts, Bryant Jones
It was no surprise who they kept except for Tanzel Smart over John Franklin-Myers. It’s quite honestly the most mind-boggling of the entire roster. This roster move made zero sense. Sean McVay did explain how he believes Smart transformed himself this off-season but even still this is year three and he’s never had a year like the year Franklin-Myers had in his rookie season. JFM was second in pass-rushing efficiency, had a game-clinching forced fumble on Kirk Cousins early in the season and had a strip-sack on Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. Of the players kept over Franklin-Myers, only Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald played snaps last year. It’s not a franchise-changing move but when you find diamonds in the rough and they perform for you in the first season. You should probably do your best to keep them around.
Cincinnati product Marquise Copeland flashed in the preseason and was rewarded with a practice squad spot, Boogie Roberts and Bryant Jones were among the other defensive linemen cut. It felt like Roberts brought his best game to the table near the end of the preseason and seemed like a likely practice squad keep. As for JFM, he is now a New York Jet after the organization claimed him off of waivers. This position looks good because it has Donald and Brockers but all in all the cut of JFM makes this unit worse not better on paper.
Outside linebacker (5): Clay Matthews, Dante Fowler Jr., Samson Ebukam, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Natrez Patrick
Practice Squad: Landis Durham
Injured Reserve: Justin Lawler, Josh Carraway, Trevon Young
This has quickly become one of the best units on the Rams. The obvious keeps were among the likes of Clay Matthews, Dante Fowler Jr. and Samson Ebukam. However, what the Rams found in undrafted rookie Natrez Patrick was huge for the depth on this unit as well as the emergence of Ogbonnia Okoronkwo who has finally recovered from the injuries that held him out of everything since his rookie year last year. The Rams held onto Texas A&M product Landis Durham who turned it on this preseason as they signed him to the practice squad. As far the rest of the guys go, everyone is staying in the building after the Rams brought Justin Lawler, Josh Carraway and Trevon Young back to the injured reserve list, which signals they will be competing in camp in 2020.
Inside linebacker (4): Cory Littleton, Bryce Hager, Travin Howard, Troy Reeder
Practice Squad: Dakota Allen
Injured Reserve: Micah Kiser
This is a strange unit after Cory Littleton. The Rams chose not to keep Dakota Allen their talented seventh-round pick on the active roster and instead signed him to the practice squad. 2018 fifth-round pick Micah Kiser is likely out for the year and that leaves just Bryce Hager, Travin Howard and undrafted rookie Troy Reeder on the roster. Allen will likely be promoted to the main roster later in the year but it was still stunning. The Rams lack a true starter to play next to Littleton but that likely won’t matter as they will be playing in the nickel formation the majority of the time. You can expect to see rookie safety Taylor Rapp more often than Hager is on the field.
Cornerback (6): Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Troy Hill, Darious Williams, David Long Jr.
Practice Squad: Donte Deayon
Cut: Kevin Peterson, Ramon Richards
Injured Reserve: Dominique Hatfield
Perhaps one of the deepest position groups on the roster, the Rams could have realistically argued that every one of these guys except for maybe Hatfield are part of the best 53 men on the 90 man roster. The team decided to keep six cornerbacks because of this. It was no surprise the five they kept which included their guaranteed starters, Troy Hill, who recently signed a two-year deal and third-round pick David Long Jr. However, it was surprising the Rams chose to hang onto Darious Williams who they claimed off of waivers from the Ravens last year over Kevin Peterson. Williams is worthy of the keep but Peterson also was worthy as well. Peterson was claimed by the rival Arizona Cardinals early on in the waiver claim process while the Rams sent Dominique Hatfield to the injured reserve ist and cut Ramon Richards who spent last year on the practice squad.
The Rams decided to keep Donte Deayon on the practice squad, some who had a standout preseason. Deayon is probably one of my favorite moves because he can run the nickel corner spot on the scout team and he is good enough to be a part of this active roster. It’s tough to see Peterson go after fighting back from a season-ending injury a year ago but he will have a legit role in Arizona and will get more of an opportunity because of it.
Safety (5): Eric Weddle, John Johnson III, Marqui Christian, Taylor Rapp, Nick Scott
Practice Squad: Jake Gervase
Cut: Steven Parker
This is another bolstered unit for the Rams in which they added one of the best in Eric Weddle, have one of the best in rising star John Johnson III, have talented box safety Marqui Christian and second-round rookie sensation Taylor Rapp. My gripe with this position is the fact the Rams kept Nick Scott over Steven Parker. The Rams lost Parker to waivers after the Dolphins claimed him and effectively brought him onto their 53-man roster. Scott is a rookie seventh-round pick out of Penn State that has the potential to be one of the league’s best special teams players. However, with Parker, he not only flashed on special teams the last two years but he made a huge impact on the defensive side of the ball. So much so, I thought Parker at one point became a lock for the 53-man roster.
Ask yourself this, would Nick Scott have been claimed off of waivers? Parker was. The Rams wanted him back but that’s the risk you run. Even still, the Rams received great contributions from Jake Gervase, an undrafted rookie out of Iowa that they signed to the practice squad.
Specialists (3): Greg Zuerlein (kicker), Johnny Hekker (punter), Jake McQuaide (long snapper)
Cut: Brock Miller
This is what you call an A+ unit. The only knock is that the Rams did not try and trade Brock Miller after posting a monster preseason. Miller really would have made any other roster but having the best punter in the league left the Rams with no choice.