From 2011 to 2013, LB Nicholas Grigsby played behind DT Aaron Donald at Pitt.
As a reserve linebacker, Grigsby didn't stack up much production in limited gametime. Donald, on the other hand, was an individual terror who blossomed into a phenom picking up nearly every award possible in his final season in 2013. Donald, of course, has gone on to have plenty of success in the NFL in his two professional seasons and is on trajectory for a special career.
While Nicholas Grigsby clearly isn't on the same path as Donald, he's on a parallel upward path. After Donald left, Grigsby took on more responsibility in 2014 and flourished in a starting role in 2015 making the third All-ACC team.
Reunited with his former defensive teammate now with the Los Angeles Rams, does Grigsby's continued growth put him on course to make the 2016 Rams roster?
The Rams have stocked up at the back of the OLB depth chart with Josh Forrest, Corey Littleton (roster preview), Cameron Lynch, Ian Seau (roster preview) and Matthew Wells (roster preview) all in the mix. Zach Hodges (roster preview) was released among the recent roster moves, so there's at least a bit more space for Grigsby.
There is some suggestion that he might be involved in the strong safety pen.
He's got solid experience coming out of the ACC with plenty of starting reps under his belt. The question is what the Rams are looking for in their OLB depth.
Alec Ogletree and hybrid Mark Barron are your fronts, and Lynch's experience from 2015 suggests a leg up on the competition (though the recent waiving of Doug Worthington does indicate that leg up isn't all that sizeable).
If the Rams are looking for an athletic defender with more defensive chops than special team ability, Grigsby might be the go-to out of the fringe group.
Chances of Making Final Roster (2/10)
The upside with Grigsby is what intrigues me. If his improvement from 2014 to 2015 suggests a similar leap coming as we head into camp, he's the perfect practice squad candidate. Someone you develop with a legitimate chance at a meaningful NFL career.
If not...well, let's just hope that ascent continues both for the Rams' sake and for Grigsby's.