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2016 Rams Roster Preview: TE Tyler Higbee... Jared Cook's Replacement?

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He slid in the draft due to 'red flags', but the Rams are counting on Higbee to develop into Jared Goff's security blanket.

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

After drafting Jared Goff with the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams focused the majority of their remaining selections on obtaining weapons for their new franchise QB. The first player that they selected with that goal in mind was Western Kentucky TE Tyler Higbee at #110 overall.

Higbee was given a second or third round grade by some evaluators and slid to the fourth round due to an incident prior to the draft that caused him to be arraigned on assault charges. Pro comparisons vary from Miami Dolphins TE Jordan Cameron to Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen, and Rams fans are hoping that a Day 3 pick can develop into that caliber of player.

Roster Battle

The Rams technically carried three TEs last season, but that warrants an asterisk. While Cory Harkey is officially listed as a TE, he functions as more of a FB/H-back. After cutting ties with the ever-underachieving Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks was the sole remaining TE that ended the 2015 season on the active roster with Justice Cunningham (roster preview) on the practice squad.

The Rams resolved this shortage by adding blocking specialist Benson Brown (roster preview), Higbee, and Temarrick Hemingway (roster preview) to the squad. Higbee likely leads that group as well as Cunningham as they all pursue Cook's roster spot.

If the Rams continue to designate Harkey a TE as opposed to a FB, I think that there is a good chance that the Rams carry four TEs into 2016. That belief stems from both the Fisherball philosophy and the dearth of talent at WR.

Expectations

It might be unfair to levee this on a fourth-round rookie, but Higbee needs to come in and develop a quick rapport with Goff. Kendricks is an good player in my opinion and can be reliable as long as he's not playing with a broken thumb, but let's be real here....he has topped 400 receiving yards in a season just once and has never had more than five TDs. He's a legit TE2 and has all the skills to be an all-around player, but looking to him to be the #1 option is unwise.

Enter Higbee.

He's a receiving TE that struggles with blocking, and the Rams will likely try to maximize his receiving talents in his rookie year. That being said, he will have to develop his blocking to be an effective Fisherball cog in the long term.

Chances of Making Roster (8/10)

Brown and Cunningham are non-factors here. 3k had Hemmingway at 5/10, and I'll put Higbee a couple of steps ahead of that. He will get every opportunity to forge some chemistry with Goff like he did with Brandon Doughty at WKU.