Troy Hill falls into the rare category of player who played a significant amount last season, yet may not make this roster, or any roster in the NFL, this year.
The Los Angeles Rams claimed Hill, originally a UDFA rookie who spent most of 2015 with the Cincinnati Bengals, off of waivers after being released by the New England Patriots at the end of the season. Last year when the Coty Sensabaugh experiment reached “disaster” status, Hill was forced into a starting role. That role was eventually revoked from him, but he still found the field from time to time throughout the rest of the year. Hill played roughly one-third of the Rams’ total defensive and special teams snaps last season.
The Rams sought cornerback talent for new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips in free agency. In addition to former Buffalo Bills nickel cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, the Rams signed Kayvon Webster, who played under Phillips with the Denver Broncos. Webster will compete for a starting job, while Robey-Coleman should have the slot position locked down.
Trumaine Johnson and E.J. Gaines should bring the Rams’ cornerback count to four. Lamarcus Joyner, who might be playing some safety, and rookie John Johnson can both play cornerback too. They should give the Rams the flexibility to not carry too many cornerbacks.
That leaves Hill battling for a fifth cornerback spot that may not even be necessary. In the event that the Rams do carry five true cornerbacks, Hill still has to beat out Marqui Christian (roster preview) and a bevy of undrafted free agents from this year and last.
Hill’s starting experience and NFL play time should give him an upper hand over the group he is competing with. He is by far the most experienced of the group and, while he was not great when he had to play, that counts for something.
Phillips may be able to light a spark under Hill, but Hill’s had a number of chances around the league with a handful of talent coordinators before. It’s plausible that Hill’s Rams tenure is coming to an end.
Chance of Making the Final Roster (3.5/10)
Given his familiarity with the players and his live experience, Hill could be kept around. Hill was bad when he was given a chance, though, and this new coaching staff doesn’t have obligation or ties that would suggest he has to stay. The new staff may take it upon themselves to replace Hill with an undrafted free agent or late signing who better fits their vision.
Hill will also miss the first two games of the season, assuming he makes a roster, for violating the league’s drug abuse policy.