Continuing the prediction game, this morning seems like a natural fit to follow up on yesterday's post predicting the offensive roster by throwing out our predictions for the defensive side of the ball.
Predicting the defense is much trickier than the offense. The offense is wide open at backup running back, wide receiver depth, and offensive line depth - all important questions. However, on the other side of the ball there are some big unresolved issues at a couple of key starting spots, second starting CB & SLB, as well as depth issues, and that's not even touching on the expectations for key players like DT Adam Carriker, rookie MLB James Laurinaitis, etc. The preferences and stlye of the new coaching staff will go a long way toward dictating how the final roster looks, their preference for more physical corners for example.
So, let's jump right in.
DE: Chris Long, Leonard Little, James Hall, Victor Adeyanju
These guys seem like locks. I don't know about Eric Moore, but he's a useful role player that contributes on special teams. He could easily get bumped with a good camp from one of the undrafted free agent rookies, particularly former Kansas State DL Ian Campbell.
DT: Clifton Ryan, Adam Carriker, Darell Scott, Orien Harris
This is another position where I think we could see a fifth player, either here, DE, or both, the d-line is kind of Spagnuolo's thing, in case you haven't heard. If that's the case, I'd be watching Antwan Burton...and of course, Harris' spot on the roster is far from guaranteed just because they traded Brian Leonard for him.
LB: Will Witherspoon, James Laurinaitis, Quinton Culberson, Chris Draft, Larry Grant, David Vobora, Chris Chamberlain
Here's the question, do the Rams keep seven LBs and just 8 total DLs, or switch which unit has teh extra player? Grant and Vobora have both had spring's that pleased the coaches, but they'll have to battle it out in camp to earn spots on the roster. Much of the decision will come down to what Spagnuolo and Flajole want out of their linebackers and who fits that profiles. It's likely to be much different than what previous administrations wanted.
S: James Butler, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Todd Johnson, Craig Dahl
Dahl and Spagnuolo have a history, and I think he'll be on for ST play and depth at safety, where Spags has used him before. The rest are pretty cut and dried.
CB: Ron Bartell, Tye Hill, Bradley Fletcher, Justin King
This is a tough one to call too. After Bartell, some of the names in the mix are obvious, but who starts? Right now, the difference between the three guys behind Bartell is pretty minimal. Hill and Jonathan Wade might get a little boost because of their NFL experience. However, I think that a healthy King can have a strong camp and beat out Wade for the fourth spot, as long as he proves he can play press coverage. With Hill, given the ups and downs that have marked Hill's experience, is he really that far ahead of the rookies?
Pretty cut and dried here.
If they can get good blocking and stopping from the rest of the ST players, the Rams could have a solid unit since they have two of the best legs in the league kicking for them.