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2016 Rams Roster Preview: Is Cody Wichmann the Heir Apparent to Rodger Saffold?

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He surprised in 2015. His role might decrease in 2016, but his long term future with the team looks bright.

Indianapolis Colts v St. Louis Rams Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Cody Wichmann has grown used to being underrated. Coming from a small town in California and after attending Fresno State he has long flown under the radar. After being selected to the All-Mountain West Second Team in his senior year he was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 6th round of the 2015 NFL draft.

Once arriving to the Rams, he failed to shed his underdog role - with 3k only giving him a 2.5/10 chance to make the final roster in last season’s roster previews. Never deterred, Wichmann battled his way onto the final roster last year. When injuries rocked the Rams OL in the middle of last season, Wichmann was called on to be the ‘next man up’ and made 7 starts in his rookie year.

Not bad for a rookie drafted in the 6th round.

Roster Battle

As mentioned in Isaiah Battle’s roster preview, the Rams starting 5 on the OL is pretty well set. The primary backup at guard is going to be Garrett Reynolds with Wichmann being the 4th OG on the roster.

Wichmann may face some competition from Demetrius Rhaney and/or Andrew Donnal in camp. His experience in 2015 will likely give him a leg up on those two individuals in camp - and I don’t expect him to relinquish his spot anytime soon.

Reynolds played well in 2015 so his status as the #3 guard is likely safe, but Wichmann would be wise to learn from the 29 year old vet in 2016 as the Rams are unlikely to be able to afford retaining Reynolds past this season.

Expectations

This is where things get interesting for Wichmann. Expectations in 2016 are likely to be low for him. Barring injury or extremely poor play from two of the three guards in front of him, he isn’t likely to see extensive playing time. But moving past 2016, that could rapidly change.

As mentioned above, Reynolds contract is expiring and he may not return. Rodger Saffold’s salary jumps to $6.2M in 2017 while the dead money drops from $7.5M to $2M. Saffold could always renegotiate his contract, but his experience in free agency a few years back indicate he’d likely be unwilling to take a pay cut.

Chances of Making Final Roster (8/10)

Saffold is what he is at this point in his career and the Rams simply can’t afford to count on him to stay healthy. Reynolds is in the final year of his contract and he played well enough in 2015 to earn a raise. One that the Rams may not be able to afford with Trumaine Johnson, Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald, Tavon Austin, et al due for extensions in the very near future.

While injuries played a significant role in Wichmann’s playing time in 2016, he has the size (6’5", 319) Fisher loves in his offensive lineman. 8/10 may seem a bit high, but the rating is just as much to do with his long term future as it does the 2016 season.