Remember EDGE Garrett Sickels? Not many NFL fans do.
At Penn St. in 2016, he broke onto the Big 10 scene as a raw, pass-rushing defensive end in his best game against Ohio State during primetime. He recorded 3.5 tackles-for-loss, nine total tackles, and 2.5 sacks. He was named to the All-Big 10 second team, which capped off a rather solid season for an up-and-coming junior.
Somewhat surprisingly, he declared for the 2017 NFL Draft. Against the judgement of his head coach, scouts, and anyone with a bit of common sense, Sickels left Penn State. Sure, he left as the team leader in sacks that year with 6.5 of them, but the pass rush had taken a huge dive in 2016 after Carl Nassib went to the NFL taking his 15.5 sacks from his final college season in 2015 with him.
Sickels ended up going undrafted. He was quickly scooped up as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts before hitting the practice squads of the Cleveland Browns and ultimately the Los Angeles Rams. He appeared in just one game, that final Week 17 preseasonesque season ender against the San Francisco 49ers in which the Rams rested their starters ahead of the playoff game.
Sickels is an outside linebacker now in the Rams’ 3-4 defense having moved from defensive end at PSU. His best strength in college was his motor. Like Rocky Balboa, the guy refused to quit and just outlasted offensive lineman if the play dragged on long enough.
Unfortunately for Sickels, he’s in a group of talented outside linebackers. Matt Longacre, Samson Ebukam, Ejuan Price and newcomers like Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Trevon Young are expected to compete for contributing roles.
As of today, Sickels will come into training camp facing an uphill battle to make the active roster. The outside linebacker group has some solid pass-rushers who not only have better technique and skill than Sickels, but they also have better strength.
Sickels cannot compensate much for his lack of strength, either. Based on the game against San Francisco, Sickels is likely to still have a slow step off the ball, making him an easy assignment to block.
Chances of making the final roster: (1/10)
The linebacker corps is not the strongest group right now, but, harsh though it may be, there is more potential and promise on the roster than Sickels.
He didn’t show much of either in the final game against San Francisco. It would have been another statement game for him if he came away with a sack or some pressures—especially against the likes of LT Joe Staley.
He will have to wait until training camp to make his statement. If he’s not an obvious standout among the linebackers, his best shot to stay in LA is on the practice squad.