FanPost

My Take on the 2014 53-man roster: Post-Draft Edition



I have no witty introduction, this is just because I have nothing else to do.

QUARTERBACK:

Sam_bradford_st_louis_rams_v_dallas_cowboys_it4_fzqiwk-l_medium

via www3.pictures.zimbio.com

The locks: Sam Bradford, Shaun Hill

The competitors: Garrett Gilbert, Shaun Hill

Outlook: Much to the shagrin of some users on this site, Sam Bradford is locked in as the starter. Unless something goes disastrously, he should be back in full health by week 1 and last year's injury should have no effect on this roster. Likewise, Shaun Hill was signed to be this year's backup, even if it is only for this year. Meanwhile, the third quarterback spot should be an interesting battle. Third-year quarterback Austin Davis has been somebody this regime has wanted to develop ever since signing him out of Southern Miss in 2012, yet he has not shown enough promise so far to guarantee that they'll stick with him. The Rams drafted Garrett Gilbert out of SMU in the sixth round this year, likely to compete with Davis for this year's third QB spot. In addition, this battle will have implications for next year as well, as I'm sure the Rams would like either Davis or Gilbert to become the primary backup of the future rather than having to keep spending money on veterans.

Prediction: I'll give Gilbert the edge, but I'll also predict the team will choose to go with just 2 QBs on the 53-man roster and stash Gilbert on the practice squad instead.

  • Starter: Sam Bradford
  • Backup: Shaun Hill
  • Practice Squad: Garrett Gilbert

RUNNING BACK:

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via a.espncdn.com

The locks: Zac Stacy. Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham

The competitors: Isaiah Pead, Chase Reynolds, Trey Watts, Kadeem Jones (FB)

Outlook: Zac Stacy seems set as "the guy" and Tre Mason looks like he'll be a tandem player at most or a simple backup at worst. People on here overrate Benny Cunningham, in my opinion, but he'll almost assuredly be on the roster as the 3rd or 4th back. Isaiah Pead is one of the biggest enigmas on the team heading into the season, which is nothing new. Undoubtedly, he's on even thinner ice than usual, but since the team chose to waive Daryl Richardson instead, the coaches will at least give Pead one more shot. He could still somehow prove himself to be the running back deserving of carries we expected. If not, he could get cut, but might be left on the roster as a special teams guy. Speaking of special teams guys, Chase Reynolds is still around and probably has a decent chance of getting a roster spot again since he was one of the few special teams aficionados last season who manages to avoid being constantly penalized. Undrafted rookies Watts and Jones are probably just camp bodies, but will get their chance to displace someone from the roster.

Prediction: The top 2 are set, and I'll be optimistic and predict Pead shows up to camp and gets a backup/special teams gig along with Cunningham. Reynolds gets the nod from me too as a special teams ace. With 5 on the roster, adding a back to the practice squad probably won't be necessary in this scenario.

  • Starter: Zac Stacy
  • Backups: Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham, Isaiah Pead, Chase Reynolds

TIGHT END:

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via m2.nflrush.com

The locks: Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, Cory Harkey

The competitors: Justice Cunningham, Mason Brodine, Alex Bayer

Outlook: Despite a disappointing season relative to his salary, Jared Cook is locked in as the starter, with Lance Kendricks finding value as a role player and the underrated Cory Harkey set in stone as the blocking tight end option. The big question here is whether or not the Rams will keep a fourth tight end on the roster. In the first two years the regime has done so, but I don't see anybody here who would be guaranteed a roster spot. The regime seems to like Justice Cunningham, so he'll be in the mix. Also, former defensive end Mason Brodine has been moved to tight end, which could work amazingly or flop, who knows. A name to keep an eye on is Alex Bayer, who I thought was a very underrated tight end prospect out of Bowling Green. He could play well enough in camp to force a roster spot, particularly if he can play some special teams.

Prediction: Here I'll say they only keep the top 3, but the best of the last 3 gets stashed on the practice squad in case of injury. Cunningham supposedly has some support from Fisher & Co., but I like Bayer a little more.

  • Starter: Jared Cook
  • Backups: Lance Kendricks, Cory Harkey
  • Practice Squad: Alex Bayer

WIDE RECEIVER:

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via www.totalprosports.com

The locks: Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey

The competitors: Kenny Britt, Justin Veltung, Emory Blake, T.J. Moe, Austin Franklin, Jamaine Sherman, Jordan Harris, Diontae Spencer

Outlook: It's weird. The Rams receiving corps has a ton of question marks, but not a whole lot of mystery. The same 5 guys as last year plus maybe one more looks to be what the receivers will be comprised of. I didn't list Kenny Britt as a lock because he has quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding him still, but basically all he has to do to make the roster is not suck in preseason and not get in a bunch of trouble. While the depth chart spots will be a battle, it looks like that will mostly be as far as the receiving competition goes. However, there is something the young guys will be able to battle for. Stedman Bailey will be on the Suspended List for the first 4 weeks, so that will open up an extra roster spot. It might not be a receiver in the end, but I think the young guys will have the upper hand for a 4-week roster spot followed by a gig on the practice squad. If I had to pick a current leader, I'd say Justin Veltung since he had some game time at the end of last year when Tavon went down. He's far from a lock though. Emory Blake has the advantage that he's great on special teams, and T.J. Moe is a wild card. One of my favorites out of the undrafted free agent class is Austin Franklin out of New Mexico State. He put together a really nice career with the Aggies, but was hurt by the strength of this year's receiver class and the fact that he probably entered the draft a year early. Still, his style of play reminds me of Brandon Gibson, which means he could be able to cut out a role in the NFL even if he's never a star. The Rams could use him to replace Bailey's spot for 4 weeks then stash him on the practice squad for the rest of the year. The only other undrafted guy I see making a push could be Diontae Spencer, but only if he proves himself as a kick returner.

Prediction: I'll say Givens & Pettis get the starting gigs on the outside (with lots of rotation with the backups), Britt makes the team, and Austin Franklin wins that 4-week job then goes to the practice squad.

  • Starters: Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Tavon Austin
  • Backups: Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey
  • Practice Squad: Austin Franklin (on 53-man for weeks 1-4)

OFFENSIVE LINE:

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via thumb.usatodaysportsimages.com

The locks: Jake Long, Rodger Saffold, Scott Wells, Joseph Barksdale, Greg Robinson, Davin Joseph, Barrett Jones

The competitors: Tim Barnes, Brandon Washington, Mike Person, Sean Hooey, Demetrius Rhaney, Mitchell Van Dyk, Abasi Salimu

Outlook: There's a lot going on here. The top 5 seems set with newcomer Greg Robinson taking over at guard for now. There should be quite a bit of competition for the depth spots, however. The recent signing of Davin Joseph is one I like because it provides immediate depth and also some emergency flexibility if someone else struggles out of the gate. Barrett Jones, after redshirting last year, is probably safe just a year removed from being drafted and possessing the flexibility to play multiple spots. Outside of that, it's wide open for 1 or 2 more spots and probably a practice squad position. Tim Barnes played pretty well when Scott Wells was hurt last year, so he probably has a leg up. Brandon Washington has been a depth option for this team as well, but probably has less momentum than Barnes right now. 7th round picks Rhaney and Van Dyk will make a push, but I'm not sure either will be able to get a 53-man spot immediately. Van Dyk, though, will benefit from the fact that the Rams don't have many true backup tackles on the roster. The practice squad would be a fine destination for either one. Simply put, I'm not a big fan of Person or Hooey and think they'll have a tough time not getting cut with rebuild depth on the offensive line, whereas Salimu seems like just a camp body.

Prediction: Barnes wins a spot, and Rhaney earns a practice squad slot for the time being. Van Dyk wins the final spot over Mike Person as an extra backup tackle, since the depth on the outside of the line is more lacking than on the interior.

  • Starters: Jake Long, Greg Robinson, Scott Wells, Rodger Saffold, Joseph Barksdale
  • Backups: Barrett Jones, Davin Joseph, Tim Barnes, Mitchell Van Dyk
  • Practice Squad: Demetrius Rhaney

DEFENSIVE LINE:

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via a.espncdn.com

The locks: Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Michael Brockers, Kendall Langford, Alex Carrington, William Hayes, Aaron Donald

The competitors: Eugene Sims, Matthew Conrath, Michael Sam, Ethan Westbrooks, Deantre Harlan

Outlook: Not much else needs to be said about the core group here. It very well might be the best the NFL has to offer. Really the only question among the starters is how much playing time Donald gets right off the bat and how much guys are rotated. This team should get a lot of sacks. Like, a whole lot. There is competition behind them, however. I have Sims listed as competition because I could conceivably see him getting cut, but I don't think it will take much for him to make the roster again. Meanwhile, another veteran, Matthew Conrath, I think is in trouble. For one, his roster spots before mostly had to do with a lack of depth at defensive tackle. Also, he's not a good scheme fit. The Rams already did away with another bad scheme fit depth tackle, Jermelle Cudjo, and I think the influx of new blood at the position will likely push Conrath out. The story beyond that lies with two rookies, Michael Sam and Ethan Westbrooks. I don't think they'll fight for an open roster spot, exactly, but rather fight to convince the staff that they deserve for a slot to be opened up for them. Both have some polishing to do in their games and probably won't be ready for playing time immediately, but they could make their cases as projects by showing upside and special teams ability. Unless they both get cut, either one should end up on the practice squad. I don't know a lot about Harlan, but he's probably another camp body.

Prediction: Sims makes it on without much concern, Conrath gets cut. One of the two rookies I talked about at length will win a job, but I think Sam has a better shot because A) the Rams have fewer depth players of his prototype than Westbrooks, and B) Sam probably has more special teams potential. However, Westbrooks get put on the practice squad and might push for one of Carrington or Langford's old spots next year if they aren't brought back.

  • Starters: Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald, Chris Long
  • Backups: Kendall Langford, Alex Carrington, William Hayes, Eugene Sims, Michael Sam
  • Practice Squad: Ethan Westbrooks

LINEBACKERS:

Alec-ogletree-st-louis-rams_medium

via i.smimg.net

The locks: James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Ray Ray Armstrong

The competitors: Daren Bates, Sammy Brown, Philllip Steward, Caleb McSurdy, Etienne Sabino, Aaron Hill, Tavarius Wilson, Johnny Millard

Outlook: Laurinaitis will start in the middle, Ogletree on the outside, and Dunbar on the opposite side, although with as much as the Rams are going to run nickel packages Dunbar won't be in quite as much as his starting nod would suggest. Behind that is a whole lot of uncertainty. Ray Ray will be around, but he's the only lock as a backup. Daren Bates was a good special teamer so he will likely be back, but I'm not sure how capable of actual defensive snaps he is. There should be one spot left after that, and while it's conceivable that McSurdy, Brown, Sabino, Hill, or Wilson makes the case for the spot, I think the team will sign a veteran backup, particularly someone who could play inside. Some of the names out there that would make sense are Pat Angerer, Stewart Bradley, Desmond Bishop, or simply Will Witherspoon again. They will probably also keep a linebacker on the practice squad, a spot which will probably come down to McSurdy, Hill, Wilson and Sabino.

Prediction: The Rams keep Bates and sign a free agent. Tavarius Wilson was a bit of a sleeper prospect and shows enough upside to get put on the practice squad.

  • Starters: James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, Jo-Lonn Dunbar
  • Backups: Ray Ray Armstrong, Daren Bates, (Veteran Free Agent)
  • Practice Squad: Tavarius Wilson

CORNERBACK:

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via www.washingtonpost.com

The locks: Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Brandon McGee, Lamarcus Joyner

The competitors: Greg Reid, Quinton Pointer, Darren Woodard, EJ Gaines, Marcus Roberson, Jarrid Bryant

Outlook: It feels weird having legitimate corner depth. Jenkins, Johnson, and Joyner are set as the top 3 with Joyner poised to see a lot of time in the nickel. Brandon McGee could get his depth chart spot taken, but his roster spot is probably safe. I think what we'll see is these last 6 guys fighting for two roster spots, which should be really fun. Pointer and Woodard have been around with these coaches but don't provide just a ton of upside. The rookie E.J. Gaines looks like he'll have what it takes to earn a roster spot whereas Jarrid Bryant has some upside but will have an uphill climb against the rest of the depth. This leaves Reid and Roberson fighting for one spot. Reid could be a big sleeper signing if he can play like he did at times at Florida State, but it's been multiple years, injuries, and arrests since that happened so you can't really count on it, but rather expect nothing and hope to be surprised. Even though he had a putrid pre-draft process, I was shocked Roberson didn't get drafted. He has some legitimate coverage skills and looked like he could push to be a first round pick at points in his college career. If Chuck Cecil can work with him to refine his game, he could be the best product of this undrafted free agent class.

Prediction: Gaines wins a job and moves ahead of McGee on the depth chart, but McGee keeps a roster spot. Roberson has a good preseason and earns a job. Reid can't win a roster spot but shows enough promise to warrant a place on the practice squad to continue to develop.

  • Starters: Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner (nickel)
  • Backups: Brandon McGee, E.J. Gaines, Marcus Roberson
  • Practice Squad: Greg Reid

SAFETY:

Mcdonald_420_081513_medium

via www.stlouisrams.com

The locks: T.J. McDonald, Rodney McLeod, Mo Alexander

The competitors: Matt Daniels, Cody Davis, Christian Bryant, Avery Cunningham

Outlook: Safety continues to be the largest area of concern on the roster. T.J. McDonald is set at one safety spot for the future, but beyond that not a whole lot is known. I think McLeod and Alexander will split time opposite McDonald, depending on the situation, and Joyner could even get some snaps there in certain packages. Behind these three, nobody is guaranteed a roster spot. Daniels, Davis, Bryant, and Cunningham will likely have to battle for one spot. One of the players who doesn't make the cut will probably earn a practice squad spot as well. The only thing that could change this formula is if a veteran free agent is signed, which is possible but not a certainty.

Prediction: Daniels takes the last roster spot, barely edging out Cody Davis, who gets another gig on the practice squad.

  • Starters: T.J. McDonald, Rodney McLeod
  • Backups: Mo Alexander, Matt Daniels
  • Practice Squad: Cody Davis

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Johnny-hekker-p-st-louis-rams_pg_600_medium

via static.nfl.com

The locks: Greg Zuerlein, Johnny Hekker, Jake McQuaide

The competitors: Bobby Cowan, Jorgen Hus

Overlook: There doesn't need to be much discussion here. These three seem to be set in stone, Hus and Cowan are just brought in to take some of the workload off and run extra drills in camp.

Prediction:

Starters: Greg Zuerlein, Johnny Hekker, Jake McQuaide

Final Roster Overlook

QB: Sam Bradford, Shaun Hill (2)

RB: Zac Stacy, Tre Mason*, Isaiah Pead, Benny Cunningham, Chase Reynolds (5)

TE: Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, Cory Harkey (3)

WR: Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey (6)

OL: Jake Long, Rodger Saffold, Scott Wells, Greg Robinson*, Joseph Barksdale, Davin Joseph, Barrett Jones, Tim Barnes, Mitchell Van Dyk* (9)

DL: Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald*, Kendall Langford, Alex Carrington, William Hayes, Eugene Sims, Michael Sam* (9)

LB: James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Ray Ray Armstrong, Daren Bates, (Veteran FA) (6)

CB: Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner*, E.J. Gaines*, Brandon McGee, Marcus Roberson* (6)

S: T.J. McDonald, Rodney McLeod, Mo Alexander*, Matt Daniels (4)

K: Greg Zuerlein (1)

P: Johnny Hekker (1)

LS: Jake McQuaide (1)

(* = rookie)

Last 5 In: Chase Reynolds, Mitchell Van Dyk, Michael Sam, Marcus Roberson, Matt Daniels

Last 5 Cut: Brandon Washington, Austin Davis, Quinton Pointer, Christian Bryant, Matt Conrath

Practice Squad: Garrett Gilbert/QB, Alex Bayer/TE, Demetrius Rhaney/OL, Greg Reid/CB, Cody Davis/S, Tavarius Wilson/LB, Ethan Westbrooks/DL, Austin Franklin/WR (on 53-man for weeks 1-4)

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