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2016 Rams Roster Preview: Will TE Lance Kendricks Seize His Opportunity?

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Lance Kendricks is a good all-around TE, but can he fend off a couple of promising rookies for the opportunity to flourish in the passing game?

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Jared Cook is gone.

Let that sink in for a minute. Go ahead... I'll wait.

Feels good right? Now that we have that out of the way, let's get down to business.

I believe that Lance Kendricks has the ability to be a solid all-around TE - especially in Fisherball. I know that that puts me in the minority here at TST, but hear me out. I chose the photo for this piece deliberately, because that's the first image that pops into our minds when Kendricks is mentioned.

After a little digging into their tenures with the Rams, I was a little surprised at how Cook and Kendricks compare. I only looked at the three years they played together on the Rams. All stats are courtesy of Pro Football Reference:

1) Cook had 8 TDs (0 in 2015). Kendricks had 11 (2 in 2015).
2) Cook caught 54.83% of passes thrown his way (142/259). Kendricks Caught 70.00% (84/120).

While Kendricks is remembered for a couple of really bad drops, Cook is largely given a pass because of the his volume - pathetic as it may be. Fact is, Kendricks was more reliable than Cook was during the past three seasons.

Now that I have that off my chest, let's take a look at what 2016 has in store for Kendricks.

Roster Battle

Last year, the Rams carried three TEs to start the season. Cook, Kendricks, and Cory Harkey (roster preview). With Cook cut and Harkey functioning as a blocking TE / FB / H-Back, that leaves Kendricks competing with newcomers Tyler Higbee (roster preview) and Temarrick Hemingway (roster preview).

As far as an every down TE for Fisherball, Kendricks is your guy. But when you consider the role that the TE plays in the passing game, Kendricks is going to have to fend off Higbee and Hemingway for snaps. It's likely that Higbee and Kendricks will both be given a chance to battle for Cook's former role in the offense - and that's a battle that's going to be worth watching as camp progresses.

Expectations

This depends on how the aforementioned battle shakes out. Even if Kendricks is relegated to the role he had in 2015, the Rams are unlikely to rely too much on a rookie filling that role. Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher has historically shown a hesitation to play rookies early, so Kendricks will likely have an opportunity to seize the role before the youngsters can snatch it from him.

I expect Kendricks to keep catching 70% of passes thrown his way and I think a bump in yards and TDs isn't too much to ask. If he cracks 500 yards and had a handful of TDs, the Rams (and rookie franchise QB Jared Goff) will be very happy indeed.

Chances of Making Final Roster (10/10)

Kendricks will be at the top of your TE depth chart for the majority of the 2016 campaign. He may not lead the team in any receiving categories, but the importance of his play to Fisherball is almost as underappreciated as Harkey's contributions are.