A year ago, Bradley Marquez squeezed onto the 2015 St. Louis Rams' initial 53-man roster as a sixth wideout, an outcome TST's Sean Wilkinson alluded to as a possible result in his roster preview a year ago.
Now, after a season in which Marquez took on a major special teams role and even saw significant playing time out wide in the second half of the year, he's facing a crowded depth chart with six rookies added to the position heading into training camp.
After squeezing in a year ago, is Marquez going to get squeezed out in 2016?
The wide receiver position is THICK heading into camp.
You've got Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt atop the depth chart. Stedman Bailey is sidelined after being waived and placed on the non-football injury PUP list though might factor as a positional coach. There are two other non-rookies in Brian Quick (roster preview) and Deon Long (roster preview).
You've got the pair of drafted wideouts in fourth-round selection Pharoh Cooper and sixth-rounder Mike Thomas (roster preview). And then there are the four UDFA receivers in Duke "D'haquille" Williams (roster preview), Nelson Spruce (roster preview), Marquez North (roster preview) and Paul McRoberts (roster preview).
Where Marquez slides in is pretty hard to tell right now with all the new bodies. The real key here is that his role isn't in the vein of a Quick or Britt; Marquez is the smaller, more athletic slot-type option putting him more in competition with, say, Cooper. That's what possibly hurts his chances most -- going up against a drafted rookie.
Marquez carries a bit higher of demand in 2016 with the experience he picked up last year, though he finished with a lower yards per reception rate of any wide receiver by a clear margin.
The fair bar here is to compare him against Cooper this preseason since Wes Welker isn't around to compete in this spot. In terms of what to expect to that degree? The question is who will have the stronger early rapport with Jared Goff and Case Keenum. Marquez's experience with the latter might give him an early leg up, but the work the rookies have put in this offseason may have established a similar advantage between Goff and Cooper.
We'll have to see how this shakes out early on in camp in terms of snaps and which string everyone is assigned to out of the gate.
Chances of Making the Final Roster (7/10)
I was high on Marquez a year ago this time, but the sheer volume of addition to the position is a fair indication that last year's depth chart is a fungible product.
Clearly, the wide receiver depth chart is getting remade in 2016. Is Marquez going to be part of the changeover?