It's early in the year, and there's a lot left to be decided in training camp. However, the St. Louis Rams secondary is starting to take shape in OTAs, which end this week. Jim Thomas from the Post-Dispatch shed a little light on the roster of defensive backs in his weekly chat.
- Trumaine Johnson & Janoris Jenkins are the starting corners, which we knew coming into the season.
- Second-year CB Brandon McGee (who played a total of 79 snaps last year) is getting most of the work as the starting nickel corner.
- TJ McDonald and Rodney McLeod have been working as the starting safeties, also a carry over from last season.
- LaMarcus Joyner, this year's second-round pick, hasn't figured into the mix yet.
- Rookie Maurice Alexander has missed most of OTAs because he had his knee scoped. That's big because those missed practices put rookies behind the curve.
- Cody Davis has a "very good chance" to make the final 53-man roster.
Here's the roster as it stands now, for defensive backs:
(Rookies listed in italics).
The rest of the roster
Matt Daniels, S
Christian Bryant, S
Avery Cunningham, S
Jarrid Bryant, S
Quinton Pointer, CB
Greg Reid, CB
Marcus Roberson, CB
Darren Woodard, CB
E.J. Gaines, CB
That's 17 players. Last year, the Rams kept ten defensive backs on the roster. Injuries forced some shuffling throughout the year, which is how McLeod got into the safety spot as well as spending some time at nickel.
Start with the assumption that the starting five listed above stick around after the final cutdown. That leaves five spots for defensive backs, possibly four if Fisher opts to keep nine DBs like he did his first season in St. Louis. (Remember, that comes at a cost to other positions on the roster).
From there, you can add Joyner to the list, which brings us to six. Alexander is a fourth-round pick, which helps give him some job security. However, missed practice time is a big deal for a rookie. They might not be able to stash him on the practice squad where any other team can get a look at him, but if his injury troubles persist, they might "red shirt" him with a spot on the PUP list or even IR. For now, let's assume he sticks come September. That's seven.
Let's take Thomas at his word here, and add Davis to the list. I liked what I saw from him last year in camp, and the Rams obviously did too. That's eight spots.
Cunningham and Jarrid Bryant are undrafted free agents from smaller schools, so I'm going to eliminate them from consideration. That leaves Pointer, Woodard, Daniels (oft injured), Gaines, Roberson and Reid vying for one or two spots. Reid and Roberson are UDFAs too, but each come with a little more resume. Reid was a burner at FSU, who got into trouble and had injury issues that kept him out of the NFL last year. He is a former five-star recruit.
Roberson is a big, tall & quick cornerback from Florida. He has the talent to end up being one of the bigger steals among the undrafted free agents this year. However, the reason he wasn't drafted is because of a knee injury, so that will need to be watched closely.
Both guys have worlds of talent, probably more than the likes of Pointer, Woodard, et al. BUT, they lack experience and carry risks. Reid might be a candidate for the practice squad. Roberson would certainly get plucked off it.
Personally, I'd keep Roberson and Gaines, and try to stash Reid on the practice squad. But it might come down to special teams with the six guys competing for the final spot or two among the defensive backs.