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2017 Rams Roster Preview: LB Cory Littleton’s Act II As Reigning Rookie Of The Year

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The Rams’ 2016 Rookie of the Year wasn’t the #1 overall pick in the draft. It was their undrafted linebacker out of Washington. With a new coaching staff in place, will Littleton be able to keep his spot on the roster?

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, LB Cory Littleton made the Los Angeles Rams53-man roster as an undrafted free agent. Not only that, but after 2016 NFL Draft sixth-round pick LB Josh Forrest was injured, Littleton replaced him as the rotational linebacker and would finish the season winning the Rams’ 2016 Rookie of the Year award.

It was a great story for Littleton to win the award over franchise QB Jared Goff, the #1 overall pick in last year’s draft. After closing out 2016 with a Hollywood ending, could the sequel end horribly in 2017?

Roster Battle

The Rams have their current starting outside linebackers in Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin, but the depth behind the two starters is murky at best. There are players such as Morgan Fox and Carlos Thompson that don’t have much experience. Also the Rams have their 2017 draft picks Samson Ebukam and Ejuan Price who could have a leg up on the competition since the Rams used capital to pick these players.

Expectations

Last season, Littleton was miscast playing in a 4-3 defense flashing some promise as a rotational player finishing the season with 20 tackles.

This season, it appears that Littleton will be returning to his college role as a 3-4 edge rusher. Consider this from last month:

“Outside linebacker is the thing I came in to this league to play,” said Littleton, a two-time winner of the Grossmont Valley League Defensive MVP Award at Mount Miguel. “It’s something that I know. I’m familiar with it. It’s something I feel very comfortable with. [New Rams Defensive Coordinator] Wade Phillips coming to this team and running his defense? That made he [sic] have a little enjoyment.”

Chances of Making The Roster (6/10)

It would be a mild surprise if Littleton didn’t make the roster. He was a key piece to special teams, and with the lack of depth on the roster at outside linebacker he should be safe as long as he doesn’t regress during the preseason.

Don’t get me wrong. Littleton isn’t a special talent. He might not even be a solid player, but he will have to play himself out of a roster spot.