Mike Purcell has always been an underdog.
From the position he plays (nose tackle) to the college he attended (Wyoming Cowboys) to they way he made the league (undrafted free agent route), Purcell has overcome these obstacles to be a contributor in the NFL as a run-stopper.
After joining the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and participating as a practice squad member until December 2014, Purcell was patient and was rewarded with a relatively “breakout” year in 2016, appearing in 15 games (five starts). Over his young career, Purcell has appeared in 25 games (eight starts) with 48 tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble. The Los Angeles Rams liked him enough to put in a claim as the team continues to transition to the 3-4 defense.
While Rams Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips loves versatility and depth, could Purcell actually make an impact on perhaps one of the best units for the Rams?
Purcell will likely be fighting for a depth spot behind DT Michael Brockers. While the starting three down linemen are likely set in DE Aaron Donald, Brockers and DE Dominique Easley, the battle for depth will be interesting to shake out.
In addition to the already set top three, the Rams drafted Tanzel Smart and signed Tyrunn Walker in free agency. Purcell may be considered a luxury considering the offensively-minded new regime.
Purcell will likely show flashes. He’ll be playing a bit in the preseason to show the coaches what they could have as the Rams are likely to be cautious with well-compensated players in Donald (hopefully soon) and Brockers.
Chances of Making Final Roster (4/10)
The Rams’ new regime is an offensively-leaning group. While I think Purcell is worthy of another long look as a run-stuffing interior lineman, there is not a clear path since the defensive line is one of the most stacked units for the Rams.
Maybe he makes an impact, but I think Purcell sadly falls just short of making the 53-man roster.