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Alex Bayer: An Impressive Debut for the Rams’ Undrafted Free Agent [GIFs]

Rookie Tight End Alex Bayer had quite the game last week against the Saints. Let’s have a closer look at the Rams’ leading receiver’s NFL debut...

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

With Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, and Cory Harkey having effectively locked up their starting roles in the Rams’ offense, there’s not much mention of a roster battle at the tight end position in St. Louis.  But there’s definitely a competition for depth.  And it looks like it’s going to come down to Justice Cunningham - who finished the 2013 season on the Rams’ practice squad - and an undrafted free agent from 2014, Alex Bayer

In the team’s Week 1 preseason matchup against the Saints, and Bayer’s very first in the NFL, he made the most of the opportunity.

Bayer lead the team in receptions [5], yardage [71], and hauled in the team’s longest catch of the day [42 yds].  Let’s have a closer look at his Friday evening...

Target 1 - G.Gilbert pass short middle to A.Bayer to STL 34 for 5 yards

*  [Gilbert]  "You covered, Alex?"  [Bayer] "Yeah...pretty much smothered here."  [Gilbert] "Welp."

Target 2 - G.Gilbert pass short right to A.Bayer to STL 27 for 7 yards

Target 3 - G.Gilbert pass incomplete short middle to A.Bayer

* "Incomplete" is a nice way of saying "overthrown."  There are about 8-yds between Gilbert and his intended receiver [Bayer].  He doesn’t lead him...instead he throws it so high that Bayer is forced to jump just to touch the ball.  This would have normally killed the drive, except for the fact that the Rams dialed up a punt fake on the next play...which RB Chase Reynolds took 38 yards downfield.

Target 4 - A.Davis pass short right to A.Bayer to STL 21 for 3 yards

*  A bit of sticktoitiveness on Bayer’s behalf.  Despite being taken down initially, he lands on a defenders back.  Recognizing he's not down by contact, Bayer jumps to his feet.  He only gained another yard on the play...but in the NFL, those three feet could make all the difference in the outcome of the game.

Target 5 - (Shotgun) A.Davis pass short left to A.Bayer to STL 35 for 14 yards

*  As you can see, down-and-distance are the challenge on this particular play for the Rams.  Bayer manages to get into space, then makes a nice turn towards the near sideline after making the catch;  doing so adds four more yards to the play.  Next play:  3rd and manageable.

Target 6 - A.Davis pass incomplete short right to A.Bayer

*  Nothing doing here.  It’s hard to tell if Bayer even knew he was targeted on this one.  Davis does a good job recognizing the pressure and ridding of the ball, though.

Target 7 - A.Davis pass deep middle to A.Bayer to NO 42 for 42 yards

*  Apparently the Saints don’t know Bayer is having himself a nice little evening, and allow him to streak downfield uncovered.  Austin Davis looks comfortable in the pocket, and after taking his sweet time to survey the field, delivers a perfect strike.


To be fair, three of Bayer’s five catches came in the 4th quarter of a Week 1 preseason matchup.  That, though, is where you'd like to see players with more potential standout.  Bayer didn’t disappoint, and it’s probably going to earn him a few more looks as the preseason progresses.

His main competition for a roster spot, Justice Cunningham, finished the day with one reception [5 yds].

We’ll see what Bayer’s able to do this weekend, as the Rams host the Packers on Saturday afternoon.  He’s aware, despite his noteworthy debut, that his work is not done, and that he’ll have to contribute in a variety of ways if he’s to make the final roster [via St. Louis Post-Dispatch]:
Coming out of college, people saw me more as a pass-catcher. But I took that to heart and have really worked to improve my blocking. The big thing is footwork, especially when it comes to playing fullback, something that’s new to me. It’s just a matter of working hard and making the needed adjustments. I don’t have the breakaway speed to compete in this league, so I have to block and I have to contribute on special teams.

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