Making the team as an undrafted rookie promises to be no simple task. However, it's not unheard of and with depth needs at a few key spots, particularly on defense, several have a chance to make the final 53-man roster this season. Quinton Culberson made the cut last season and just one year later has a pretty good shot to make the team as the starting strong side LB. Darius Vinnett CB also made the cut last season, and has impressed with his coverage skills through the early goings this summer.
So what about this year's crop of undrafted rookies?
C.J. Ah You, DE - The Rams signed Ah You, surprisingly enough not for the endless amounts of word play his name engenders, last season after the Bills cut their seventh round pick. Like all the other (seemingly) defensive rookies and long shots, Ah You's name keeps popping up in camp reports with a shiny gold start affixed next to it. He didn't miss a snap in Saturday's scrimmage and would have had tallied a sack had QBs been in play. It now looks like the Rams might carry eight DEs on the 53-man roster, with Ah You and Eric Moore grappling for the last spot. Here's what Linehan said about Ah You in his post-scrimmage presser:
“I’m going to watch the tape, but I noticed some plays by him and some others. He’s a guy that has a knack and a nitch in this game and you never know what might transpire in the next four weeks.”
Vernon Bryant, Willie Williams & Henry Smith, DT - If the Rams carry 8 DEs, they may opt to use one, such Ah You, at DT for some snaps, rather than replace Wroten's spot on the depth chart alongside Carriker, Glover and Ryan. Maybe. Of the three undrafted rookie DTs, Bryant and Williams made an impression with their strength, but according to this August 5 reprot from New Era, Bryant put on a show with his bull rush, while Williams got beat by backup o-linemen. Bryant's the one to watch here. As I mentioned previously, the Hampton U product's potential lies in his ability to play in the three technique.
Marc Magro and Marcus Riley, LB - The Rams undrafted rookies have so far been making the most noise battling it out for a spot on the depth chart at linebacker. We covered Magro and Riley yesterday, and it's very likely that one of the two will make the team, follwing in Quinton Culberson's footsteps from last year.
Lance Ball, RB - With Jackson making Rams nation nervous, Lance Ball has been given plenty of extra time to make an impression in camp. The Maryland product has been running well and making catches, even scoring one of two TDs in last weekend's scrimmage. It'll be tough for Ball to make the 53-man roster once Jackson comes back, with Brian Leonard guaranteed a spot and Antonio Pittman getting the third thanks to his downhill speed. If he continues his camp run through the preseason, he'd be hard to turn away from the practice squad.
Russ Weil, FB - Has gotten reps at FB with veteran Dan Kreider missing time with a sore knee, and by all accounts has used the opportunity to make a good impression, catching some balls and playing special teams. It's yet to be determined whether or not the Rams will keep a full back period when they winnow down their final roster, so Weil's a long shot to make the team.
Nick Cleaver, TE - Who? Yeah, that's what I said about the New Mexico State undrafted rookie, but it might not be a bad name to know. Cleaver got a positive mention as one of three undrafted rookies who looked worthy of a roster spot in the New Era camp report mentioned above, which was the first I'd heard his name mentioned. However, with Klopfenstein missing time with injury and having yet to meet expectations, fans and coaches will be keeping an eye on Cleaver.