Late last June, I gave Rams OT Darrell Williams a 3.5/10 shot to make their initial 53-man roster. Suffice to say, I was surprised when he did just that when the Rams released their 53-man in early September.
Then November 15 happened.
Instead, it unraveled their season.
An embarrassing 13-37 loss turned out to be the second of a five-game losing streak that sent the 2015 St. Louis Rams spiraling out of control. The Rams saw three offensive linemen injured that day: RT Rob Havenstein (injured his calf and missed the next two weeks), LG Jamon Brown (broke his leg and missed the rest of the season) and Williams (dislocated his wrist and missed the rest of the season).
Having logged just 25 offensive snaps in 2015, 16 of them coming in that loss to the Bears, can Williams stay in front of the rest of the pack at OT?
So we've got to reset the offensive line parameters for 2016.
2015 Rams Roster Preview
2015 Rams Roster Preview
Last year, Head Coach Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead flooded the O-line depth chart drafting four new offensive linemen (Havenstein, Brown, OT Andrew Donnal and G Cody Wichmann) and adding another crop in the UDFA wave before going the extra mile and taking OT Isaiah Battle in the 2015 NFL Supplemental Draft.
Williams ultimately made it to the 53-man as one of ten offensive linemen and four tackles with Havenstein, Donnal and starting left tackle Greg Robinson.
As it stands, the top nine on the depth chart look pretty firm to make it again, leaving just Williams as the wild card setting up a potential storyline to track in a, well, battle between Williams and Battle...
Williams is in a strange position here. As a second-year UDFA, he doesn't factor in heavily to early plans.
On the other hand, he made the 53-man and was your backup left tackle for much of the season. Any injury among the tackle corps probably changes everything here.
As it stands, if we're setting this up as a Williams v. Battle contest, are there any real expectations for either at this point?
Chances of Making 53-Man Roster (5/10)
Bear in mind, the Rams only kept three dedicated tackles on the 2014 53-man, so there's no annual requirement to hold four. And consider that shedding Williams (and the spot he occupied on the 53-man last year) opens up depth elsewhere where the Rams might be needier at the end of the preseason like at WR or LB.
That said, Williams earned his spot last year for a reason. Clearly, the staff valued his game to a significant degree. It's also worth pointing out that Williams picked up more special teams playing time than Donnal and Rodger Saffold and picked up just one less snap than Brown despite not featuring in four of the Rams' first five games.
If anything, there's reason to project Williams upward of where he was a year ago based on his limited usage in 2015 and the assumed work he got in practice. The question is if his wrist injury and subsequent rehab has put him behind the curve of the peers.
At this point, I think it's impossible to know until we see him in training camp.