There are many different kinds of LA Rams 53-man roster projections that I could do, as we sit about two months shy of those final cuts, but make no mistake that all of them would be wrong. A writer could sit down and struggle for hours, or days, thinking of all the “right” moves but ultimately, Sean McVay will throw some Stafford side-winders at us and there will be names nobody could have ever expected.
It could be an undrafted free agent rookie.
It could be a veteran free agent who is unsigned as of today.
It could be a player who seems buried behind a sure thing right now, only to see that “sure thing” move onto a new destination.
These would all fall into the category of “reasonable surprises” for me, because even if you can’t predict what will happen, we should be able to foresee that some unexpected things will happen.
The following is not some “final roster projection” meant to be 100-percent accurate. It is meant to be inaccurate, so that we can start to think about all of the possibilities that exist between now and the real final 53-man roster. A roster that nobody will be able to predict, but that everybody will be able to have some opinions on. Likely some strong opinions.
I decided to do a 53-man roster projection that had some surprises. I came away with eight surprises. I don’t expect all of these things to happen, but now I think we’re prepared for them to and discuss why LA should or should not go in these directions.
QB - Matthew Stafford, Bryce Perkins(1)
RB - Cam Akers, Devonta Smith(2), Xavier Jones, Jake Funk
WR - Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, DeSean Jackson, Tutu Atwell, Van Jefferson
TE - Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins, Johnny Mundt, Jacob Harris
OL - Andrew Whitworth, Rob Havenstein, David Edwards, Bobby Evans, Austin Corbett, Tremayne Anchrum, Joseph Noteboom, Chandler Brewer, Alaric Jackson(3), Austin Reiter(4)
1 - The motivation to try out a different backup other than John Wolford: a) Why not? and b) The Rams got a shot to see Wolford last season and while he was put in a difficult late-season situation, that opportunity still helped spark a trade for Matthew Stafford. And not a starting opportunity for Wolford.
2 - There’s nothing personal here, it’s just trying out different looks and in this case, what if the Rams have decided that after two seasons of Darrell Henderson, it’s time to move on? Henderson has missed some offseason work with an undisclosed injury. He had a chance to be Todd Gurley’s replacement and that didn’t come to pass. Perhaps a trade for a day three pick will allow Henderson a chance to start elsewhere. I chose the 29-year-old Freeman off the free agent market because a) He’s available and b) He knows Raheem Morris. I didn’t choose Le’Veon Bell because I wanted to avoid Le’Veon Bell comments.
3 - I’m not “high” on Alaric Jackson, I’m practically picking an UDFA at random but at a position of need. Don’t read into it more than that.
4 - The Rams finally decide that if nobody else is going to sign Reiter, they’ll take the opportunity to have an experienced backup waiting behind Corbett. And if a guard gets injured, Corbett can slide inside too. LA has some cap space left and I would not expect either of these offensive signings to cut into it deeply.
CB - Jalen Ramsey, Darious Williams, Terrell Burgess, Robert Rochell, David Long
S - Jordan Fuller, Taylor Rapp, Nick Scott, Malik Hooker(5)
OLB - Terrell Lewis, Leonard Floyd, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Chris Garrett
ILB - Micah Kiser, Travin Howard, Ernest Jones, Kenny Young, Christian Rozeboom(6)
DL - Aaron Donald, Sebastian Joseph-Day, A’Shawn Robinson, Bobby Brown, Earnest Brown, Greg Gaines, George Silvanic(7)
ST - Matt Gay, Corey Bojorquez(8), Steve Wirtel
Total - 28
CB - Last season, the Rams kept only four cornerbacks, but six safeties. However, the year before, they kept six cornerbacks and fewer safeties, so there’s no real method to the math in the secondary other than “best players get to stay”. Early word is that Burgess is in the lead to replace Troy Hill’s snaps at cornerback. If Burgess wins this job, that’s bad news for Long as he enters his third year after being a third round pick in 2019. If Burgess does win that job, and Rochell performs well in August, it could spell Long’s final days with the Rams. However, I think we’ve also heard positive things about Long from Sean McVay this year and there’s no need to rush to judgment.
5 - All that being said, I did some of you a favor by imagining the team signing Hooker, possibly the most intriguing free safety left on the market. Only 25, the former first round pick is still in recovery from a torn Achilles. However, the injury happened early in 2020 camp and he could be ready to go by Week 1. Hooker recently met with the Steelers and said he likely won’t sign with any team until camp, and that he wants to go a place that will fit his style so that he can have a positive one-year prove-it campaign. I think a healthy Hooker could help replace the valuable snaps that left with John Johnson.
6 - What if Rozeboom — or any unknown linebacker — comes in and has a dominant camp? Nothing is impossible with this unit and it would be a reasonable surprise to see someone like Rozeboom, Jones, Justin Lawler, or Justin Hollins as a starter. A corresponding surprise was cutting Hollins which, again, is not personal. I have no reason to believe Hollins is behind any of these other players, it’s just a 53-man roster projection with some different looks.
7 - Pick a random UDFA and add him to the roster. That’s the recipe! I like Silvanic’s story.
8 - Yeah, pretty understandable here and nobody is disputing that it is odd how the team signed Bojorquez. McVay says this is really not a possibility, and I have no reason to doubt him, but Bojorquez has to fall into the “reasonable surprises” category. Otherwise, what is he doing here? Hekker is the highest-paid punter in the NFL next season.
Total - 53