We've got a couple hours before kickoff between the Rams and the Chiefs, and since roster cuts are on Saturday I thought we could isolate the players who are looking at tonight's game as a legitimate audition.
First, here are my locks:
QB: Nick Foles, Case Keenum, Sean Mannion
I think this is already set in stone on the 53.
RB: Todd Gurley, Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham, Chase Reynolds
The Rams went with five last year, so this would leave a 2014 slot open.
TE/FB: Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, Cory Harkey
Another position where they went with five a year ago. This leaves a pair open.
WR: Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens
I'm hesitant to call Givens a lock, but I'll ride with it here. The Rams also went with five wideouts last season.
OL: Greg Robinson, Rodger Saffold, Barrett Jones, Jamon Brown, Rob Havenstein, Andrew Donnal, Garrett Reynolds
There's bound to be some argument here with as many moving parts, but these are the only locks I'm confident in.
DL: Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Nick Fairley, William Hayes, Eugene Sims
Two spots from the 53. One notable omission...
LB: James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Akeem Ayers, Daren Bates
I reaaaaaaaaaaaaally struggled with Dunbar here.
CB: Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner, Marcus Roberson
S: T.J. McDonald, Rodney McLeod, Mark Barron, Maurice Alexander, Cody Davis
This might be the position unit I'm most comfortable with after QB.
ST: Greg Zuerlein, Johnny Hekker, Jake McQuaide
Wait, no. This is.
So against the 53-man, here's the difference between my locks and how many we carried in 2014:
That's seven job openings for me, though the coaches likely have a few more locked in.
That being said, here's my bubble list.
Sorry, Austin Davis.
RB: Trey Watts, Isaiah Pead, Malcolm Brown
Watts is the favorite here, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Rams tap either Pead or Brown. Watts has played well, but consider who he's playing against and his style. They may even go with Brown for the physicality.
TE/FB: Justice Cunningham, Zach Laskey
I don't see how Alex Bayer makes it this year. There is room, though, to backup Cory Harkey. And I'm leaning hard toward a four-man personnel group here to give a spot to another position.
WR: Bradley Marquez
Daniel Rodriguez is a great story, but it's not going to happen for the 53-man. Marquez, though, has enough athleticism to entice an extra spot here perhaps.
OL: Tim Barnes, Demetrius Rhaney, Brandon Washington, Cody Wichmann, Isaiah Battle
Man, I dunno.
DL: Ethan Westbrooks, Louis Trinca-Pasat, Martin Ifedi
This is also "man, I dunno" territory, but I'd be surprised if they went with less than nine here.
LB: Cameron Lynch, Bryce Hager
Special team openings are everything tonight, especially with future injuries untold in 2015.
CB: Brandon McGee, Montell Garner, Trovon Reed
The Imoan Claiborne cut tells you they're serious about isolating the options here. There's a reason.
Audition Super Bowl
That's 19 out of 22 in the bubble mix. Certainly, the staff has it down to much less than that, but it's difficult to decipher from the outside.
What will be most interesting to contrast with this weekend's 53-man is if one of these candidates plays well tonight and doesn't make it...or vice versa.
There was one Imoan Claiborne in the first 15 cuts. There will be several more in the next 22.