While some may deem it silly to project the 53-man roster at this point in the offseason, this exercise offers a way to gauge where the Rams do and don’t have depth. Plus, it sets up which players may be on the roster bubble and what the most competitive positional groups are.
Players will suffer injuries, and guys will be added/released in the months ahead. Keeping all that in mind, let’s run through a way too early 53-man roster projection.
Quarterbacks (2): Jared Goff and Sean Mannion
It’s safe to say Jared Goff has locked up the top quarterback spot on this roster. Last season there were calls for Mannion to potentially be the starter, but after his 2017 campaign, Goff has locked it up.
That doesn’t mean however that the back-up quarterback competition isn’t going to be interesting. Sean McVay can’t be content with Mannion. It was honestly surprising McVay didn’t draft his own guy in April’s draft.
Brandon Allen is a guy that McVay likes and the DII prospect, Luis Perez, will be an interesting story in camp.
The Rams could keep three, but I don’t foresee them wasting a roster spot on a third quarterback.
Running backs (3): Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, and John Kelly
The Rams kept three running backs last year and I foresee that again this year. Gurley and Kelly could make quite the duo while Brown has been a good guy to have in the running back’s room. That leaves out notably USC’s Justin Davis, who doesn’t bring anything unique to the table.
Wide receivers (6): Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Pharoh Cooper, Josh Reynolds, and Steven Mitchell
Five of the six wide receiver positions are essentially set and it would not be surprising if the Rams bring in another guy or two into camp like they did last year. Where this competition will be interesting is that sixth and final spot. Notice Mike Thomas missing from this list.
Thomas has had his chances. He reportedly looked good last year prior to his suspension, which really halted his momentum. Thomas dropped a big pass against the Seahawks his rookie year. He has the ability, but a change of scenery may be good for him.
Steven Mitchell has big play ability from in the slot and outside the numbers. Had it not been for injuries, there is no doubt he would have been drafted. This spot depends on him being healthy.
Tight ends (3): Gerald Everett, Tyler Higbee, Temarrick Hemingway
Another position I was shocked that the Rams didn’t draft in April as it is not the strongest on the roster by any means. The Rams hope Everett can come into his own this season. Higbee can be solid but is not a game changer. Hemingway may make this roster by default as there really isn’t a third guy that stands out.
Who knows, maybe the Rams will trade for Gronk?
Offensive line (9): Andrew Whitworth, Rodger Saffold, John Sullivan, Jamon Brown, Rob Havenstein, Joseph Noteboom, Brian Allen, Darrell Williams, Austin Blythe, Jamil Demby
The Rams actually have a fairly solid group here with some potential. Obviously Whitworth and Saffold are the two big name veterans, but the Rams seem to have a future with newly drafted Noteboom and Allen.
Defensive line (8): Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Michael Brockers, Ethan Westbrooks, Matt Longacre, John Franklin-Myers, Tanzel Smart, Dominique Easley
Defensive line is going to be a fun position and the Aaron Donald situation could be one to watch because if he doesn’t show up, it will open up opportunities for other guys. While that would be disappointing, at least for the preseason, it would be entertaining to watch.
Westbrooks played well last season while Longacre was one of four players with more than five sacks. Franklin-Myers shows some potential. This could also be Easley’s last shot, and because of that, he won’t be a lock to make the roster.
Linebackers (8): Mark Barron, Samson Ebukam, Micah Kiser, Ogbannia Okoronkwo, Bryce Hager, Cory Littleton, Ejuan Price, Tegray Scales
Linebacker is without question one of the Rams weaker positions. However, there are a lot of interesting players, specifically Okoronkwo. Aside from Barron, the Rams just have a lot of unproven guys. Hager has been good on special teams while Littleton has stepped in at times in his career. Scales is an instinctive player with playmaking ability proven by his 36 tackles for loss and 13 sacks over the last two seasons.
Cornerbacks (6): Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Sam Shields, Troy Hill, Kevin Peterson.
Cornerback will be interesting on the back of the depth chart. The top three are locks. The rest are up for grabs. Right now I’ll give a slight edge to Hill who showed promise at the end of last year, Shields the veteran, and Peterson who will have a year under his belt.
Safeties (5): John Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner, Marqui Christian, Curtis Mikell, Ramon Richards
The secondary may be one of the more interesting positions to watch in camp. Outside of the top two, the rest are once again, unproven. Christian has shown some ability. Mikell is a guy that will be very good on special teams. His junior year he caught a 22-yard pass from his punter for a first down. Tell me that doesn’t sound familiar. Ramon Richards is a guy that has a great story. He’s a smart guy that works hard and will have a good chance at making it. That obviously leaves off Blake Countess who’s been on the team the last few years but has shown his only real ability is hitting hard. The Rams go in another direction.
Specialists (3): Johnny Hekker, Greg Zuerlein, Jake McQuaide
Is there really any debate here?