Los Angeles Rams: Projecting the 53-Man Roster and Practice Squad

The Los Angeles Rams will make their final roster cuts on Saturday. Here’s who could make the final53-man roster and practice squad.

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The Los Angeles Rams have 80 men on the roster and will have to cut 27 from the team this Saturday by 4PM eastern time. In addition to this, on Sunday the Rams will be able to finalize a 16-man practice squad which is an unprecedented increase from the original 10 the teams in the NFL could originally have. Furthermore, what makes it all interesting, six out of the 16 on the practice squad can have any sort of experience in the NFL.

Blaine Grisak and myself have decided to do a joint projection of the 53-man roster. We will go position by position and at the end you will see who I have projected on the practice squad.

Quarterback

Jake (2): Jared Goff, John Wolford

Cut: Bryce Perkins

As many of you know I am a huge fan of Bryce Perkins and to be honest, Downtown Rams consider him a friend of the podcast. However, I don’t see the Rams keeping three quarterbacks with the increase in practice squad slots. Jared Goff is the obvious starting quarterback but John Wolford has gone from preseason wonder of 2019 to the legitimate backup quarterback for Goff. The coaches trust him and if he were to ever have to come in to relieve Goff due to any unforeseen circumstance I would feel more than comfortable with him as well. Wolford’s pocket mobility and his ability to work off-script is exactly what you want to see out of a backup quarterback. He has flashed plenty of that since joining the Rams last year and this year in scrimmages.

As for Perkins, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was kept on the 53-man roster and he is certainly good enough to make the roster. However, I think the Rams may need to keep another inside linebacker more than they intended to after the injury to Travin Howard. Not to mention the possibility of rolling with two kickers on the roster. I’m not saying that’s 100 percent happening but I think Perkins is a perfect candidate to be on the practice squad and work his way onto the 53-man roster as a later season call-up.

Blaine (3): Jared Goff, John Wolford, Bryce Perkins

Cut: N/A

In a normal year, Bryce Perkins may have had more of a chance to be the outright backup. However, with Wolford as the most experienced backup on the team and with a full year in the system, he is the guy behind Jared Goff.

From what fans have seen in scrimmages, the former AAF star has played well. So much so that the team did not feel the need to bring back Blake Bortles despite the fact that he remains unsigned. With that said, while the NFL has done a good job of limiting COVID-19 cases through camp, it wasn’t until the MLB started traveling that problems occurred. Quarterback is such an important position and Perkins can do so much as an athlete, I have them keeping three.

Running Back

Jake (4): Malcolm Brown, Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Xavier Jones

Cut: John Kelly

The first three guys Malcolm Brown, the second-round rookie Cam Akers and third-round sophomore Darrell Henderson were locks before any of them suited up for camp. However, there is some serious questions on whether the Rams will keep four running backs and if they do, who would be the last spot? Xavier Jones in a regular pre-draft process and a combine invite is likely a fifth-round draft pick in my opinion. The Rams drafted John Kelly in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Those two are battling it out right now for a spot that may not even be there. However, I do believe there is a spot waiting for one of them and I do think “X-Man” as I’ve dubbed him will beat out Kelly for the spot.

The running back out of SMU has a bit more explosiveness and long speed than Kelly and offers some pop behind his pads as a pass protector. The upside is greater in my mind and Kelly is likely running out of time with the Rams as they’ve now drafted two running backs since he arrived in 2018. With the extended practice squads this year, I expect the Rams use one of them for Kelly who may not have been eligible this year but with the six-player slots holding no exceptions Kelly is a prime candidate. He’s a talented back who has made his coaches proud in the preseason but the lack of opportunities and the fact guys keep jumping him on the depth chart leads me to believe this is either it for Kelly as a Ram or he’s going on the practice squad.

Blaine (4): Malcolm Brown, Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, John Kelly

Cut: Xavier Jones

As Jake mentions, the first three on this list are locks. The final spot will come down to Xavier Jones and John Kelly. Brown is the most experienced guy in the room while Akers and Henderson are both day two draft selections.

The Rams won’t keep more than four backs, meaning that the final spot will come down to Kelly and Jones. With Henderson’s injury and the fact that this has been a weird year, experience is going to be valued. Kelly was selected in the sixth round in 2017 and has familiarity of what is expected in the offense. Jones should make the practice squad as he has shown promise, but Kelly will make the final roster.

Wide Receiver

Jake: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, Josh Reynolds, Nsimba Webster

Cut: Earnest Edwards IV, Trishton Jackson, Easop Winston Jr. & JJ Koski

There isn’t a position group I’m more upset to not be seeing in the preseason than the wide receivers. The Rams are very deep at this position and arguably every wideout has an argument to make the roster. We already know Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds and Van Jefferson were locks coming into camp so it was really all about a fifth and a potential sixth spot on the roster. With that being said, the Rams signed four talented undrafted rookie free agents who all could have arguably been drafted in a normal draft season. However, this is far from normal and so Easop Winston Jr., JJ Koski, Trishton Jackson and Earnest Edwards IV all went undrafted.

It may come as a surprise but Nsimba Webster who was last year’s undrafted rookie preseason marvel has turned it on this year and in my mind has ousted out the impending undrafted rookies. I went back and forth on whether the Rams would keep six receivers or not. Ultimately, I decided against an additional wideout considering that Webster can be the return man and Darrell Henderson can help in that area as well. Assuming all of the undrafted rookies aren’t claimed I would expect up to three of them being added to the practice squad.

Blaine (5): Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, Josh Reynolds, Nsimba Webster

Cut: Earnest Edwards IV, Trishton Jackson, Easop Winston Jr. & JJ Koski

The Rams have such a talented and deep group of receivers, it’s difficult to see them only keeping five guys. With that being said, if the team does move to more 12 personnel, the need for six wide receivers isn’t as vital. The top four essentially locks with Webster also almost a guarantee with an added ability as a returner.

Tight End

Jake (4): Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Johnny Mundt, Brycen Hopkins

Cut: Kendall Blanton

Here’s another position group that is pretty firm on personnel. The Rams saw the long-awaited emergence of Tyler Higbee last year following their early contract-extension. Gerald Everett in a contract year has a lot to prove and should have an expanded role with the Rams vying to run more 12 personnel. Johnny Mundt figures to be the primary blocking tight end and should be considered a lock as well as Higbee and Everett at this point in time. The fourth-round pick out of Purdue, Brycen Hopkins was my number one overall tight end in this past draft and I see him supplanting Everett in the future.

That leaves Kendall Blanton whether or not the Rams decide to go with five tight ends. I don’t think they personally can afford to so Blanton will likely end up a practice squad candidate as someone that has been around the organization for the last two years now.

Blaine (4): Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Johnny Mundt, Brycen Hopkins

Cut: Kendall Blanton

There really isn’t much of a competition at tight end. These four guys are basically written in stone. As is the case with wide receiver, if the Rams are going to run more 12 personnel, it’s tough to see them only keeping three, especially with the talent that they have at the position.

Offensive Line

Jake (8): Andrew Whitworth, Joseph Noteboom, Austin Blythe, Austin Corbett, Rob Havenstein, David Edwards, Bobby Evans, Tremayne Anchrum

Cut: Jamil Demby, Brian Allen, Cohl Cabral, Jeremiah Kolone, Coleman Shelton

This could get interesting. The Rams have a lot of depth on the offensive line but there are positions they need to keep one more guy than usual. The projected starting five of Whitworth, Noteboom, Blythe, Corbett, and Havenstein figure to be locks as well as last year’s spot starting rookies David Edwards and Bobby Evans. That leaves four centers, one guard and a guard/tackle remaining. In this situation, I think the Rams will actually opt to put Brian Allen on the practice squad and keep 2020 draft pick Tremayne Anchrum.

It’s worth mentioning that Chandler Brewer opted out of the season due to COVID concerns but had Brewer been available? I think he would have made great strides in his development and made this roster.

Blaine (9): Andrew Whitworth, Joseph Noteboom, Austin Blythe, Austin Corbett, Rob Havenstein, David Edwards, Bobby Evans, Brian Allen, Jamil Demby

Cut: Tremayne Anchrum, Cohl Cabral, Jeremiah Kolone, Coleman Shelton

Despite the fact that the Rams might not have a top-10 offensive line group, this is a very deep group. That’s almost just as important. The top eight in this group aren’t going anywhere. Maybe the Rams make a surprise move and cut Brian Allen, but even that seems highly unlikely.

The final spot comes down to two players: Tremayne Anchrum and Jamil Demby. When given the opportunity to start last season, Demby was a disaster. So much so that the team traded for Corbett. However, his experience in the system is important. Anchrum will start the year on the practice squad and potentially take over for Demby later, but to start, it’s Demby on the final 53.

Defensive Line

Jake (6): Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Morgan Fox, Greg Gaines, Marquise Copeland

Cut: Jonah Williams, Michael Hoecht, Eric Banks

This is one of the easier position groups to predict. It is worth mentioning as The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue reported on her 53-man roster projection article, that the Rams have not placed A’Shawn Robinson on the PUP list yet and if they do not do that they will have to keep him on the 53-man roster. If the Rams decide to place Robinson on the PUP list, Robinson by rule would have to miss the next six weeks but wouldn’t count against the 53-man roster. This dynamic is interesting and I’m projecting that the Rams do place Robinson on that list forcing him to miss the first six weeks. With that being said the Rams roll with six defensive linemen all of which are the favorites with Robinson being out.

Jonah Williams, Michael Hoecht, and Eric Banks are all intriguing but there’s not really a spot for them this time around and so I think the Rams will likely look to add one-to-two of these men to the practice squad.

Blaine (5): Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Morgan Fox, Greg Gaines

Cut: Marquise Copeland, Jonah Williams, Michael Hoecht, Eric Banks

As Jake mentions, it’s worth noting that the Rams have not placed  Robinson on the PUP list yet, but I do believe it’s something that they eventually do. The Rams could replace Robinson with Copeland, but with needs at other positions, it might make sense to start with five until Robinson returns.

Outside Linebacker

Jake (6): Leonard Floyd, Terrell Lewis, Samson Ebukam, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Jachai Polite, Natrez Patrick

Cut: Justin Lawler, Josh Carraway

There’s not much of a shock here, however, if Terrell Lewis misses significant time that could change a lot. I have the Rams keeping six outside linebackers which include last year’s practice squad addition Jachai Polite and undrafted rookie preseason standout Natrez Patrick who might be an intriguing option to also play inside linebacker with his versatility.

Justin Lawler and Josh Carraway have been super quiet this offseason and I have to imagine both will be up for a potential practice squad placement. Lawler was expected to have a decent role until he was injured last year and Carraway had a great preseason last year that was cut short due to a season-ending injury.

Blaine (6): Leonard Floyd, Terrell Lewis, Samson Ebukam, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Jachai Polite, Natrez Patrick

Cut: Justin Lawler, Josh Carraway

There really isn’t much competition at outside linebacker, therefore, it will come down to whether or not the Rams want to keep five or six. The top four provide the most experience while Patrick showed promise as an undrafted free agent last season. Polite seems to be right on the cusp, but given his talent, he should make the final 53.

Inside Linebackers

Jake (5): Micah Kiser, Kenny Young, Troy Reeder, Christian Rozeboom, Clay Johnston

Cut: Daniel Bituli, Derrick Moncrief

With the recent news of Travin Howard being out for the rest of the year, the Rams have been put in a bit of a tough spot. Micah Kiser will without a doubt be a starting inside linebacker but next to him remains in question. The favorite would likely be former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Kenny Young with last year’s half-season starter Troy Reeder following suit. In the event either of them can’t go, South Dakota State undrafted rookie free agent Christian Rozeboom has had an impressive camp and could prove worthy. Assuming those four guys have made the roster, that leaves seventh-round rookie linebacker Clay Johnston and the two newest acquisitions Daniel Bituli and Derrick Moncrief remaining.

I decided to go with Clay Johnston who may not be totally ready as he is just nine months out from a serious injury but the long-term potential has me excited and likely has the Rams excited as well.

Blaine (5): Micah Kiser, Kenny Young, Troy Reeder, Christian Rozeboom, Clay Johnston

Cut: Daniel Bituli, Derrick Moncrief

The injury to Travin Howard definitely opened up a spot for someone like Rozeboom or Johnston. If Howard was not injured, I might move Johnston to the practice squad. He doesn’t seem to be completely ready coming off of injury while Rozeboom has been impressive and could be the next star undrafted linebacker. However, the Rams are thin at the position and need all the talent they can get.

Cornerback

Jake (5): Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill, Darious Williams, David Long Jr., Donte Deayon

Cut: Adonis Alexander

The Rams cornerbacks are among the league’s best without most fans and critics even realizing it. Jalen Ramsey is in my mind the best cornerback in football, Troy Hill emerged as a legitimate number two corner, Darious Williams blew up during the final quarter of last season, David Long Jr. is an impressive third-round talent out of Michigan that has big-time upside and Donte Deayon is a no-nonsense cornerback that is a true scrapper. That leaves one more cornerback in Adonis Alexander. While I love the size and speed combination, Alexander just isn’t ready to be on the 53 yet and his time will come.

The Rams will cut Alexander most likely but do not be surprised when he’s the guy they decide to protect on their practice squad.

Blaine (4): Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill, Darious Williams, David Long Jr.

Cut: Adonis Alexander, Donte Deayon

The Rams secondary is going to be extremely versatile this season. While it would be nice to be able to keep someone like Deayon on the final roster, the Rams have players like Burgess who can come down and play cornerback if needed.

Safeties

Jake (5): John Johnson III, Taylor Rapp, Terrell Burgess, Jordan Fuller, Nick Scott

Cut: Jake Gervase, Dayan Lake, Tyrique McGhee, JuJu Hughes

There’s a lot of safeties in camp this time around but no undrafted rookie free agents are likely going to make the roster this time around. John Johnson III and Taylor Rapp figure to start for the Rams on opening day leaving the Rams third-round pick Terrell Burgess and sixth-round pick Jordan Fuller who have emerged this training camp period to fill in the rest of the secondary. However, I decided after going back and forth multiple times to add Nick Scott back onto the roster as his impressive camp on defense and his special teams background feels like enough for me to believe he’s coming back.

As for Dayan Lake, Tyrique McGhee, JuJu Hughes, and Jake Gervase, it’s not really their fault you can chalk it up to lack of opportunities, shortened offseason, and no preseason. Gervase will likely stay in-house via the practice squad but with the Rams great depth at the safety position, one safety on the practice squad might be all that is needed.

Blaine (5): John Johnson III, Taylor Rapp, Terrell Burgess, Jordan Fuller, Nick Scott

Cut: Jake Gervase, Dayan Lake, Tyrique McGhee, JuJu Hughes

The Rams are extremely deep at safety which made it already an uphill battle for the undrafted guys and players on the roster bubble. That hill became even steeper with the lack of preseason games combined with a weird offseason.

The top three in this group are bonafide locks while Fuller and Scott have seen a lot of playing time and made the most of their opportunities. Dayan Lake and Jake Gervase are promising players, but the Rams will probably have to keep them on the practice squad.

Specialists

Jake (3): K Lirim Hajrullahu, P Johnny Hekker, LS Jake McQuaide

Cut: Austin MacGinnis, Samuel Sloman

Obviously, Johnny Hekker and Jake McQuaide are locked in every year but Lirim Hajrullahu is the kicker I decided to go with. There is an argument for XFL standout kicker Austin MacGinnis but at the end of the day, I trust Hajrullahu’s experience more. Could Samuel Sloman be chosen? Sure, but it would be a mistake to choose him over the other two that have outperformed him. If Sloman made the roster over the other two it would entirely be based on his draft label.

Since the Rams won’t be doing that it’s between MacGinnis and Hajrullahu. I have Lirim getting the nod and MacGinnis headed to the practice squad.

Blaine (3): K Lirim Hajrullahu, P Johnny Hekker, LS Jake McQuaide

Cut: Austin MacGinnis, Samuel Sloman

Echoing Jake’s thoughts here. Hekker and McQuaide aren’t going anywhere. The only question mark all offseason has been kickers and Hajrullahu has been the most accurate and consistent out of the group. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Rams keep one extra kicker on the practice squad.

Jake’s Projected 16-Man Practice Squad:

QB Bryce Perkins, 

RB John Kelly*

WR Earnest Edwards IV

WR Easop Winston Jr.

WR Trishton Jackson

TE Kendall Blanton

C Brian Allen*

C Cohl Cabral

DL Michael Hoecht

DL Raequan Williams (PHI)

OLB Justin Lawler*

ILB Daniel Bituli

ILB De’Jon Harris (NE)

CB Adonis Alexander

TE Kendall Blanton

S Jake Gervase*

K Austin MacGinnis

Legend:

Bold – Player that is one of four protected that can’t be taken off the practice squad

* – Player that counts as one of the six veteran exceptions

( ) – Player that is on another team that is expected to be cut

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