Marshall McFadden had to work it just to crack the NFL.
An undrafted free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft out of South Carolina St., McFadden wandered the UDFA desert for an entire season before being picked up by the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 2012 season. They'd pass a year later with Oakland picking up the tab. St. Louis came calling in 2014.
Now, McFadden's a 28-year old special teams contributor who has scraped by on the practice squad/active roster fringes. How long does that resume summary statement play in the NFL?
We've got two distinct groups.
Top tier: James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, Akeem Ayers, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Daren Bates
Second tier: Bryce Hager (roster preview), Cameron Lynch (roster preview), Keshaun Malone (roster preview), McFadden and Korey Toomer (roster preview)
The Rams carried five linebackers on the 53-man last year, and this season's group matches last year's save for Ayers replacing Ray Ray Armstrong.
That leaves the second group either fighting to clip off, seemingly, Daren Bates or to fight to convince the coaching staff to add a sixth linebacking slot on the roster. I think the latter's certainly more probable.
This is tough. McFadden's a contributor who featured in the middle of the Rams' 2014 season on specials on 95 snaps (20.9% of the season total ST plays). Comparatively though, Bates was in on 336 special teams snaps (74%) and even filled in on 11 defensive snaps.
So clearly, McFadden's in the next slot below...but how firm is his grasp on it?
Chances of Making Roster (0/10)
I'm going big here...by going low. McFadden isn't exactly a tenured property in St. Louis. One year of limited special teams contributions may have given him some insight into the Rams' special team modus operandi, but I'm much more bullish on the other rookies who happen to be a half dozen years younger.