Who are the top-20 most important players on the current Los Angeles Rams roster?
That is a question that creates more questions for me the more that I have been thinking about it. What does it mean to be “most important”?
To me, the most important way to be the most important is that your presence is vital to the Rams repeating their Super Bowl championship run in 2022-23. So combining factors of individual talent, positional value (both in the general sense and specific to what Sean McVay tends to need for his offensive and defensive strategies), and depth, we end up with a top-20 list.
I will be driving the order of this list—However—I think that by the end the much better list will be the one that is created based on YOUR RESPONSES to my order. If we hold a vote after every entry and you tell me that my order is off, then we must make adjustments and post an updated and better top-20 list based on what the Turf Show Times Rams community says by the end of it.
As I said in the beginning, creating this list is not easy and it means leaving players out of the top-20 who I believe could be top-20, or even top-10, by the end of the season.
Names like Terrell Lewis, Chris Garrett, Terrell Burgess, Brycen Hopkins, and Tutu Atwell are among those who have not been productive or even active often enough on game days yet, haven’t been slated for starting roles (that we know of) in 2022 yet, but surely have the potential to prove that they are important parts of L.A.’s future. And they are not alone.
Creating a top-20 also means that no rookies are on my list, and that many positions will seem quite shallow but we have to keep in mind that there are only 22 official “starters” plus special teams. Someone even harsher than me could argue that there is only one secondary player on the Rams worthy of a top-20 ranking, and the offensive line may not have many more than that.
Is that concerning? Well, this is largely the same roster that won the Super Bowl so it is hard to imagine that many teams are better well off than McVay’s.
Before I get to the number 20 player on the list, let me lay out some of the notable names who did not make the cut. Maybe they didn’t make the cut for me, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t make the cut for you or for the TST community.
You just missed
OLB Chris Garrett
Last year during the preseason Chris Garrett had 7 pressures, 2 sacks, and won on 20% of his true pass sets (double any other Ram). Also had 3 batted pass which led NFL.— DOWNTOWN RAMS [DTR] (@DowntownRams) June 24, 2022
OLB Terrell Lewis
Never forget when Terrell Lewis laid his big ass out #RamsHouse https://t.co/Ei2D6zKdIE pic.twitter.com/TCT5bfmTWu— ™️ (@ThinkBlue47) June 21, 2022
OLB Justin Hollins
Still think the Rams need to consider trading for an edge rusher opposite Floyd, but also think that Justin Hollins deserves an opportunity.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakDTR) June 24, 2022
Hollins was solid last season before he got injured. Two sacks in opener against the Bears. Overall good against the run as well.
The only outside linebacker in my top-20 is Leonard Floyd. Lewis is entering his third season and frankly that means that if he’s not healthy throughout training camp, preseason, and going into the year, then the Rams have to consider whether or not he’s worth a spot on the 53-man roster again. Lewis’s injury concerns have followed him for the last five years and as a third round pick he has produced only 491 snaps over two seasons.
Von Miller’s L.A. career is like a faded memory that never happened and yet he has played more snaps for the Rams in his life than Terrell Lewis has.
But there’s a big, bright opportunity called “shine opposite of Floyd” and these are the among the players who can answer that door. They just haven’t yet and so they did not make the top-20.
CB David Long, Jr.
Former Michigan DB David Long with the Pick-6 for the Rams in the NFL Playoffs pic.twitter.com/hTkRyxti84— Blue By 90 (@bluebyninety) January 18, 2022
S Taylor Rapp
Following the #SuperBowl parade, 4 #Rams Joe Noteboom, Taylor Rapp, Nick Scott & Jake Gervase found themselves stranded and needing a ride to LAX. A random Rams fan spotted the players and gave them a ride.— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) February 19, 2022
The guys rewarded the fans with over $800 and a great memory ( - TMZ). pic.twitter.com/Rlv2yfq1xD
S Nick Scott
The last player in NFL history to sack Tom Brady? Leonard Floyd of the Los Angeles Rams.— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) January 29, 2022
The last player in NFL history to intercept a pass by Tom Brady? Nick Scott of the Los Angeles Rams.
S Terrell Burgess
TERRELL BURGESS!!!— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 10, 2022
HELD 'EM ON THIRD DOWN
It’s hard for me to not see the entire secondary as interchangeable, other than Jalen Ramsey, based on what we saw last season and postseason. The Rams had to turn to ERIC WEDDLE at safety and they were fine. They were maybe even better than they were before Weddle’s return.
L.A. was not concerned with re-signing Darious Williams and they have again turned back to a familiar face by bringing back Troy Hill as a reinforcement alongside Ramsey. You will see Jordan Fuller’s name on this list, but even his absence was not that noticeable in the playoffs, so to a degree I do think that Ramsey is the only name that has to be in the top-20.
That could change by midseason. The Rams drafted four secondary players: Decobie Durant, Derion Kendrick, Quentin Lake, and Russ Yeast. They have Fuller, Burgess, Scott, and Rapp at safety again. It is inevitable that Raheem Morris and McVay will have to cut some secondary players who either have experience or potential, and that could definitely shake up the order of the defensive backs on this list by the time training camp is over.
But these ones missed for me. Would they rank higher for you?
RB Darrell Henderson, Jr.
"It felt amazing. I was still shocked and the next day I woke up like wow, 'I'm a Super Bowl champion in my third year,' " Darrell Henderson said Saturday. https://t.co/i0ADL6u2RZ— Commercial Appeal (@memphisnews) June 21, 2022
Henderson has dealt with injuries throughout his career and even when healthy often seems to find a way to fall out of favor with McVay. I think a lot of the fandom around Henderson is created by fans who care more about fantasy football than reality football and they don’t watch the Rams games to see how different the running game is with Henderson than how it was (briefly) with Cam Akers in 2020. Sony Michel was a more effective back than Henderson last season and L.A. did not prioritize re-signing Michel, now with the Dolphins.
Put it another way: This is probably Darrell Henderson’s final season with the Rams.
K Matt Gay
I definitely considered Matt Gay just because we saw how ugly things got in between Greg Zuerlein and eventually signing Gay during the 2020 season. But it’s kicker. If a kicker reaches a team’s top-20, that in itself is a concern. I only hold Justin Tucker in that regard, if we’re looking at it leaguewide.
WR Tutu Atwell
If I had to show favoritism to anyone on this list, then I’ll reveal my cards to express a desire for Atwell to prove the skeptics wrong. I understand being upset if you wanted the Rams to draft somebody else in 2021, but knowing that the Rams did choose Atwell and add him to the roster... Why root against him at that point? Every fiber of my being is rooting for the NFL’s smallest player to also be one of the league’s most exciting players? You really going to schadenfreude yourself out of witnessing a player on your favorite team doing something awesome?
Looking forward to see what Tutu Atwell can bring to the offense. From what I’ve seen he’s been working hard this off-season to make an impact. A lot of people have written him off but this is nothing new for the Louisville kid. He seems eager to prove doubters wrong. @tutuatwell pic.twitter.com/0Z8LsH3iaz— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) March 24, 2022
Don’t root for yourself to be proven right over rooting for Tutu Atwell to prove you wrong.
This first name on my top-20 could be a surprise, but after a lot of internal debate here’s what drew me to this name over the ones in the secondary who did not make it:
Rapp and Scott have had three seasons and we should know where their ceiling sits at this point. Scott is also valuable on special teams, but could the Rams play out this season without him and be roughly the same? Long took on a big role in the playoffs, but still played in less than half the snaps against the Cardinals and 49ers, and those were both strong defensive efforts by the Rams.
Having a second cornerback with a high ceiling who could potentially lock down another area of the field beside Ramsey would be quite valuable to L.A.’s defense, so positionally, outside cornerback was something that I had to consider for the top-20. This first player was considered raw coming out of Central Arkansas last year but still managed to start by Week 5 against the Seattle Seahawks, then recorded his first interception the following week against the New York Giants.
Injuries set him back after that but I’m going to take a bit of a risk and start off my top-20 list with a player who could be more valuable than what he was able to show during his rookie campaign.
Update: There was a miscount that required an update to the list, meaning that Robert Rochell will now be moved to “First man out” and ranked #21.
#21 (Closest to the cut) - CB Robert Rochell
Second-year CB Robert Rochell will be among players competing for a starting role this spring and summer. Last year his development was delayed by a broken rib. “My first rib, by my collarbone…so rare. No treatment, just pain. A lot of mental stuff went into (recovery).” pic.twitter.com/1eP5pkFGcS— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) April 20, 2022
Rochell suffered an upper rib injury, something that should not be a concern moving forward now that it is healed and he is past the pain. He was limited in snaps in 2021, playing in more than 40-percent of the snaps only twice during his 11 appearances as a rookie, but with Darious Williams out of the picture now, Rochell has an opportunity to start in Week 1.
I believe he has what it takes to win that job over David Long, Jr. What may be more interesting to follow is the progress of rookies Durant and Kendrick and if they could possibly challenge for snaps there too.
At 6’2, 195 lbs, with a 4.41 40-yard dash, a 43” vertical, and a 6.84 three-cone time, Rochell is a unique athlete with a lot of promising progress to show for his first year in the league, even if he did miss basically three-quarters of the year plus the playoffs.
I wanted to start off the list strong and choose a player who I believe all Rams fans can get excited about, one who has shown us flashes of greatness on the field, and who plays a position of great importance. That’s how Robert Rochell beat out some of his teammates to crack the top-20 and I think it is safe to say that if he stays healthy, #20 could be the floor for Rochell moving forward in his career.
Next: #20 QB John Wolford
#19 CB Troy Hill
Show me in the vote though, did I screw up by putting Robert Rochell in over some other options?
Of THESE choices, who should be #20 on the list?
This poll is closed
CB Robert Rochell
S Nick Scott
S Taylor Rapp
OLB Terrell Lewis
OLB Chris Garrett
TE Brycen Hopkins
TE Kendall Blanton
K Matt Gay
RB Darrell Henderson
LB Justin Hollins
CB David Long
WR Tutu Atwell
DB Terrell Burgess
OTHER (but remember, your "other" might be on the list already!)