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2017 Rams Roster Preview: RB Lenard Tillery, A Backup Back?

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Tillery managed to make the Rams’ list as a priority UDFA signing, but can he also make the list as a must-keep?

Los Angeles Rams RB Lenard Tillery
Los Angeles Rams RB Lenard Tillery
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams RB Lenard Tillery is an interesting player entering an interesting roster battle.

When discussing a starter, there is no player more important than that starters direct backup. Tillery is a small school rookie undrafted free agent, who comes to the Rams with some legit third down back potential. But, he is going to have to show that he has something that separates him from the pack trying to back up RB Todd Gurley.

That will be the challenge.

Roster Battle

Only the top spot of the running back depth chart is secured in Gurley, but after that it is wide open. Yet somehow, this is still a crowded backfield.

Tillery’s greatest competition will be himself. The fact that there is nothing that separates him from the pack stands out the most. His skill set and style of play is eerily similar to that of fellow running backs Lance Dunbar, Aaron Green and the Rams’ other UDFA pickup Justin Davis (roster preview). Tillery might be the most physical runner of the bunch, but Green has never shown a fear of contact himself. Besides, if the Rams are looking for a power back to hand on to in the backfield behind Gurley, they’re more likely to retain Malcolm Brown.

Essentially, the Rams have a good mix of everything that you want in a RB crop. Tillery is another piece of the pie.

Expectations

This is one of those situations where mistakes must come at a minimum for any of the backs, because, again, it’s crowded after Gurley. Reps will be scarce. Each back will have to make the most of his opportunity.

Something that might be working in Tillery’s favor here is he is rumored to have a high football IQ and can pick up an offense very quickly. He walked on in college and won the starting role. While a college playbook is considered miniscule compared to an NFL one, it has been said that McVay keeps his plays simple so that players can easily adapt. If this is the case, Tillery should pick things up quickly. However, this will probably not increase his reps unless another back falls flat on his face.

Preseason action should see each back get about 5-6 touches game.

Chances of Making Final Roster (5/10)

Tillery has about a 50% chance of making this 53-man roster.

The numbers are both working against him and in his favor. Because there is nothing separating anyone as none are high draft picks or being paid a high dollar amount, none of the backs behind Gurley are remotely close to having a stranglehold on any of the 2-3 available spots. However, if the season started today, Tillery would likely be an odd man out due to the numbers not allowing him many opportunities to show what he has.

He and Davis are the last two on the depth chart right now, but a lot can change between now and game four of the preseason.