It’s no easy feat for an undrafted free agent to crack an NFL roster, but that’s exactly what former Northwestern St. WR Shakeir Ryan will attempt to do with the Los Angeles Rams.
More often than not, the names of UDFAs are rarely uttered. The good news for Ryan however is that he garnered attention early on:
Granted these are somewhat minor moves, but WR Shakeir Ryan was someone who flashed during camp. Kept looking at my roster to see his name.— Myles Simmons (@MylesASimmons) May 15, 2017
One tryout guy who opened my eyes in the first session? Shakeir Ryan, a 5-8, 160 WR from Northwestern State. Quick in space. Flying around. pic.twitter.com/UThLSq211E— Joe Curley (@vcsjoecurley) May 12, 2017
Having coaches take notice is the first step to ultimately making the roster, but there’s a lot of work left to be done. Can the former Demon continue to turn heads as the offseason progresses to forge a path to making a living in the league?
As it stands, the Rams have 11 wide receivers with Shakeir Ryan being the only 2017 UDFA receiver on the roster as the team heads into training camp. They kept seven on the initial 2016 53-man roster, so Ryan finds himself in an uphill battle against numbers.
Tavon Austin, Robert Woods, and rookies Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds, barring the unforeseen, are locks to make the team. That leaves seven receivers competing, with only three (in all likelihood) receiver vacancies on the final 53-man roster.
If I had to guess, I’d say that Bradley Marquez makes the team as a result of his special teams prowess, and Mike Thomas - who Jared Goff says has “found a role for himself” - bounces back from a relatively forgettable rookie season, also earning a spot and potentially some looks as a starter.
That would mean, assuming I’ve pegged the correct receivers for roster spots, that Ryan would look to earn the lone remaining spot in a group that includes Pharoh Cooper, Nelson Spruce, Paul McRoberts and Brandon Shippen.
I expect to hear that Ryan is still turning heads as the summer wears on. But Shak, who did serve as a punt returner at Northwestern State, is going to have to show out on both offense and special teams if he hopes continue taking the field in LA.
It would not surprise me to see Ryan outlast McRoberts and Shippen, pre-McVay UDFAs from 2016. But if he’s going to outlast players like Cooper and Spruce, he’s going to need to put together a pretty spectacular offseason.
I won’t put it past him to continue impressing, but he’s still a long shot to make the final 53.
Chances of Making Final Roster (3/10)
He’d better be the best special teams player the Rams have, or else I just don’t see it happening. I wouldn’t mind being wrong here, because I’m not necessarily impressed with anything that Spruce or Cooper have done in their short time with the Rams...but I think both provide more on offense and special teams. Ryan certainly has plenty of time to further impress the coaches and prove me wrong, though.
At this point, it appears he’s a solid practice squad stash.