With only one preseason game remaining, NFL teams will soon face the tough decision of who stays and who goes as they whittle their rosters down to 53. If you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Rams, you’ve gotten a good long look at the rookies and undrafted free agents, as head coach Sean McVay has once again opted to protect his starters.
Several players have stepped up and made their case for surviving the cut. Over at Pro Football Focus they’ve identified the Top 25 rookies through preseason Week 3 and they’ve pegged a pair of Rams players as standouts.
25. DI GREG GAINES, LOS ANGELES RAMS – 79.5
While playing for the Washington Huskies in college, Greg Gaines was one of the top run defenders in all of college football. And through three weeks of preseason play, it’s easy to see that his stout play against the run is translating well to the NFL. Gaines has obliterated his opponent in run defense thus far, and when lined up at nose tackle, he has recorded an 82.1 run-defense grade and has also yet to lose to his blocker at that alignment.
Gaines, a 4th round selection, is vying for the starting spot at nose tackle; a vacancy left by Ndamukong Suh this offseason. The Rams oftentimes struggled against the run last year - allowing 122 yards per game on the ground (23rd) - so early returns from the young run-stuffer are promising.
9. WR NSIMBA WEBSTER, LOS ANGELES RAMS – 86.5
With Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, the Los Angeles Rams already have a top-three receiving unit, so the preseason success of undrafted free agent Nsimba Webster is just an added bonus. Webster has hauled in every single one of his eleven targets so far and has been incredibly productive on a per route basis, with an average of 2.73 yards per route run. His average depth of target thus far has been 5.2 yards downfield, and with three explosive plays and three broken tackles, Webster is showing to be a solid after-the-catch receiver at the NFL level.
It’s been hard not to be impressed with Webster (UDFA), who has consistently shown up each week this preseason. The issue, however, is the Rams are so deep at the position. 3k released his updated 53-man predictions this morning and, despite the strong showing, Webster still finds himself on the outside looking in.