Alex Bayer was a longshot from the get go.
An undrafted free agent out of Bowling Green, Bayer signed with the Rams after the 2014 NFL Draft. By late July, he was listed as the sixth tight end on the depth chart behind fellow hopefuls Mason Brodine and Justice Cunningham. In the Rams' first preseason game, Brodine fractured his ankle ending his 2014 season. And what was shaping up like a Bayer-Cunningham battle for a single roster spot bloomed into open slots for both to make the 53-man roster.
Where Cunningham wasn't offered an opportunity to put his blocking specialties on the field in 2014, Bayer featured in special teams in six games. Does that put him in as the fourth tight end going into the 2015 depth chart race?
The TE/FB chunk is a bit murky.
Top tier: TE Jared Cook, FB Cory Harkey, TE Lance Kendricks
Bottom tier: Bayer, TE Justice Cunningham (roster preview), FB Zach Laskey (roster preview), TE Brad Smelley (roster preview)
Last year, the Rams maintained both Cunningham and Bayer as a blocking/receiving specialist combo. Where Cunningham was inactive down the stretch and never found the field, Bayer was involved sporadically on special teams and even got in five snaps on offense. He seemingly has the leg up as the #4; in 2014, the Rams kept five here for the 53-man.
Higher than most of the prospects we've gotten to in the preview series thus far. A UDFA year ago, Bayer not only made the 53-man in 2014, he got playing time.
Bayer's not a training camp body.
Chances of Making Roster (7/10)
Bayer was starter who now has a buffer behind him at his position. Even if the Rams cut the position holdings down to four players, he should be safe. The question is if there's another Alex Bayer in the makings for 2015 or if Laskey can prove to be a crucial fullback addition to what the Rams are hoping to be a plus running game to elevate the offense in 2015.