Marquise Copeland began his career at the University of Cincinnati hoping to make his mark at defensive end or middle linebacker. He left after his senior year as a respected defensive tackle with a reputation for being stout against the run.
It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Rams’ run defense has been a liability and continues to be one of the primary weaknesses of the roster. That is likely the reason that the Rams signed Copeland as an undrafted free agent.
The Rams are have yet to figure how to best employ their personnel in a 3-4 base defense to stop the run. Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers play rotationally along the line for Rams Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips, but DL Ndamukong Suh is gone. John Franklin-Myers will be in the mix as well. That means Tanzel Smart and 2019 NFL Draft fourth-round pick Greg Gaines will likely fight for snaps at nose tackle.
That puts Copeland squarely in the mix for backup/reserve snaps. He’ll be looking to unseat incumbent Sebastian Joseph-Day (2018 NFL Draft, 6th round) while outperforming a bunch of newcomers around the line like Bryant Jones (roster preview) and Boogie Roberts (roster preview).
The Rams are clearly not averse to taking a chance on an undersized defensive lineman (see: Donald, Aaron). If Copeland can show that he can play with the big boys, he’ll be in good shape.
Chances of making the final roster (6/10)
Maybe I’m being a bit too optimistic here, but the Rams carried eight defensive lineman out of camp in 2018. I could see them taking a quantity over quality approach in 2019. If the Rams carry eight again this year, I like Copeland to come out on top of what is sure to be a closely watched position battle in training camp.