In 2018, the LA Rams kept four running backs on the roster: Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, Justin Davis, and John Kelly.
In 2019, that number went down to three: Gurley, Brown, and Darrell Henderson.
And for most of 2020, the Rams actually kept five running backs on the roster: Henderson, Brown, Cam Akers, Raymond Calais, and Xavier Jones.
So depending on which iteration of the roster you’re looking at, Sean McVay could potentially choose to keep three, four, or five running backs on LA’s 53-man. Circumstances dictated how many McVay felt he needed in the case of previous seasons and it helps when a team has an MVP candidate at the position with few injury concerns over the period of a few years.
When the Rams released Gurley in 2020 and replaced him with unproven second round pick Cam Akers, then they saw in training camp that there injuries mounting at the position, circumstances dictated that McVay wanted to keep five players at the position. Though Jones and Calais played in a combined zero offensive snaps, they stuck around all year as insurance.
Xavier Jones also played in 178 special teams snaps, while Raymond Calais played in 34 special teams snaps but contributed as a kick returner over the course of his four active games with the Rams.
How many running backs will McVay feel he needs to keep around in 2021?
The main difference appears to be that Akers enters year two and given the quality of his runs at the end of his rookie season, I think McVay can confidently enter training camp with a plan for him to be the featured number one option and without the necessity of a “committee” approach. However, Henderson has played well in the past and because of injury concerns at the position, appears to be a necessary handcuff option behind Akers.
What about after Akers and Henderson?
The team drafted Jake Funk out of Maryland in the seventh round and while he doesn’t have that much experience as a running back because of injuries and other circumstances, Funk may possess a great ceiling of value than Calais and Jones. Funk appeared to be a quality running back during what opportunities he did get over the last two years and at the very least has been described as an outstanding special teams player.
That was the biggest part of Jones’ rookie season so it could be that those two face off for the opportunity to play coverage on special teams. Calais, meanwhile, may need to prove himself as ‘undeniable’ as a returner — and there simply are not many players at that position who aren’t expendable. Does Calais have anything more to offer as an offensive weapon?
Keep in mind that Calais and Funk both posted elite times in the 10-yard split, for whatever that is worth.
How many running backs SHOULD the Rams keep on the roster next season?
This poll is closed