Yes, it is only May 5th. Yes, I am predicting the Rams final 53 man roster. And yes, I know that it is way too early to be doing this. But you know what, why not? I'm going to do it, and I know the odds of me getting this exactly right are very slim. But I’m going to try anyway. Let's get to it then:
No real surprises here, Sam Bradford is the starter, no matter what. Sam will have a huge year this year, in my opinion. He finally has a respectable line and some good receiving threats. I gave the back-up to Clemens because he has more experience than Austin Davis. Hopefully, it doesn't matter who the back-up is and Bradford plays every snap this year.
Running Back (4):
Running back this year is one of the hardest to predict. Those top three could be put in any order. The touches will be pretty evenly distributed throughout those three guys. It will be by committee. I gave Richardson the "starting" spot because he had the best year last year. But, I think that throughout the season, Isaiah Pead will take over the staring spot. I think he will have a breakout year in 2013. The 5th round pick Zac Stacy will get his share of touches in short yardage situations. He is more of a power back it seems. Terrance Ganaway will probably have the same role as last year, being inactive for games. I think they will keep him in case an injury happens to one of the top 3 guys.
Wide Receiver (6):
At wide receiver, I think that we will keep 6 guys, but 5 will see playing time. Chris Givens is at the top, he had a very solid rookie season last year and will continue to take the top off of defenses. Tavon Austin was the 8th overall pick and can make a big play out of nothing. I hope he returns punts and kicks because he will take a few to the house. Like Isaiah Pead, Brian Quick had a disappointing first year in St. Louis, but I think he will have a breakout year this year, as well. He is a big guy, at 6'3, 220, and will get some red zone targets. Stedman Bailey had 25 touchdowns last year. 25! Hopefully, his sense for the finding the end zone continues and gets a few touchdowns this year. Austin Pettis will get some playing time, but not a lot. Last year, Pettis had 30 catches for 261 yards, He will need to step up if he want to be guaranteed a roster spot next year. I know absolutely nothing about Raymond Radway, so I think he will probably be inactive for most games.
Tight End (4):
When we signed Jared Cook I was very excited. He is a great pass catcher and has pretty good speed for a tight end. He probably line up in the slot on some plays. Lance Kendricks is a great blocker. There will probably be a lot of two TE sets this year with these two. Last year, Kendricks proved that he can be a pretty reliable pass catcher with 42 catches for 519 yards and 4 TD's. Lutzenkirchen is an undrafted free agent from Auburn. Douglas M wrote a nice piece on him on Saturday. As you can see in the article, he seems to have a knack for catching touchdowns. He won't get much playing time, but I think he will make the roster. Mike McNeill is a local kid and I am rooting for him to make the roster. I think he has a chance again this year.
Offensive Tackle (4):
Jake Long was a huge signing this off-season. This was the biggest free agent move we made. He will protect Sam's blindside very well. Rodger Saffold wasn't happy when we got Jake Long, and probably isn't happy that he is being moved to Right Tackle, I think he will do a good job. He will be a lot better than Barry Richardson last year. For the back-ups, I kept Chris Williams because he was the most experienced, with 38 career starts. Barksdale started two games last year, and I don't remember him, so I guess that's a good thing.
Center and Guard (5):
Scott Wells was supposed to be a huge free agent signing last year, but he was injured for most of the year and didn't play all that much. Robert Turner did a great job filling in for him. I expect Wells to be healthy this year and do a good job opening up holes. Harvey Dahl was the best lineman last year. He played in 14 games last year and did a good job opening up holes for the running backs. Rok Watkins started against the Lions Week 1 last year but was injured at then put on IR. I heard that he has worked hard and lost some weight, which is good to hear. Barrett Jones will push hard for that spot. He was the 4th round pick this year out of Alabama. Although, I think he will fill the role of Robert Turner because he can play all 5 offensive line spots. Shelly Smith filled in nicely last year when he was forced into the starting line-up due to injuries. I think he will make the final cut.
Defensive End (5):
The Rams tied the league lead for sacks in 2012 and these 4 guys helped a lot. Chris Long lead the pack with 11.5 sacks and is a great pass rusher. He is the best Rams defensive lineman. Robert Quinn had 10.5 sacks last season and is very athletic. He is a good pass rusher, but sometimes he rushes too wide and leaves running lanes for the quarterback. He also needs to improve his rush defense. William Hayes's resigning was quietly a great move by the front office this off-season. He played very well last year at both DE and DT. He would move inside on passing downs. William Hayes played in every game last year and had 7 sacks in a back-up role. If he can duplicate that this year I will be very happy. Eugene Sims is also a good pass rusher and would sometimes come in on passing downs and play inside. In 2012, he played in 13 games last year and had 3 sacks and an interception against the Bucs on a deflected pass. Mason Brodine won't get many snaps with the guys in front of him, but in case of an injury, he will be there.
Defensive Tackle (4):
Michael Brockers is a monster. He will be a multiple time pro bowler before he is done. I am so excited to see him play this year. He had a great year in his rookie season last year with 4 sacks, 31 tackles, and 1 forced fumble. Kendall Langford started last year and will this year, too. He had a decent season last year in the middle of the D-Line. Jermelle Cudjo proved he could be a serviceable back up last year when he got some playing time. And finally, Matthew Conrath will make the roster because he is probably the best of the rest.
JL is obviously going to start at middle linebacker. He is probably our best defensive player and will continue to make plays this year. Jo-Lonn Dunbar had a great year last year in his first year in St. Louis. He made some huge hits over the year and hopefully that continues this year. Alec Ogletree was the 30th overall pick in this year's draft. Most fans didn't like this pick but he is very athletic and will help stop the read option that is becoming so popular in the NFL. Josh Hull has been a good special teams player the past couple of years and will play on special teams again this year. Ray Ray Armstrong is an interesting player. He played safety in college at Miami (FL) but last year he didn't play at all. Les Snead said they were going to try him at linebacker at camp. He is athletic and will contribute on special teams, so I think he will make the roster as an undrafted free agent.
Cortland Finnegan was a great signing last year and had a very good year last year. He is the best defensive back on the roster and can cover just about anyone. But, my favorite part of his year last year was when he got that Redskins player to threw the ball at him. Janoris Jenkins is had 4 touchdowns last year. He has good instincts at the cornerback position. Tru Johnson will be the number three corner again this year. He filled that role nicely last year. The Rams needed to get a corner back in this year's draft, and they did with Brandon McGee, who will be 4th on the depth chart this year. Quinton Pointer will be on the roster again this year, as the emergency cornerback.
T.J. McDonald will fill the role left by Quintin Mikell. He will play in the box and stop the run. He can hit really hard, too. Darian Stewart got injured last year, and didn't see that much playing time. I've heard the coaching staff is high on him so I think he will start next to McDonald. Matthew Daniels will push hard for that starting spot as well, and will play special teams. Same with Cody Davis, undrafted free agent from Texas Tech. And, Rodney McLeod was a pretty good special teams player last year, so he will stick around this year. The safety position this year concerns me.
Long Snapper (1):
- Jake McQuaide
Hopefully there won't be too much controversy over my pick for the long snapper, because it's the freaking long snapper. Go get it, Jake.
Legatron didn't do much to lose his spot last year, so I expect him to make the squad as the kicker.
- Johnny Hekker
Well, he did pretty good last year, but had a couple of shanks. If he can cut down on the shanks, that would be neat.
Anyway, what do you guys think of my predictions? Leave your thoughts down in the comments. Thanks for reading!