It happens every year on nearly every team across the NFL - undrafted rookies find a way, despite all odds, to earn their place on a regular season roster. For some it requires beating out players the team drafted just four or five months ago, and others have capitalized on openings created by injury or the business-side of the NFL.
There are three rookie UDFA’s that are in a prime position to make the initial 53-man roster for the Los Angeles Rams, and we will find out over the course of the next week if they can cross the finish line:
Lance McCutcheon, WR
McCutcheon watched his Montana State teammate, Daniel Hardy, get drafted by Los Angeles during the seventh round this past April, but his name was never called on draft day.
Despite the Rams’ talented receiver room, which was already five to six players deep, McCutcheon has shown that he’s too good for the team not to keep him. Through two preseason games the rookie has been the best player on the field, and he’s already accumulated 10 receptions for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns.
He catches everything that comes his way, which leaves only one question in regards to his candidacy for the regular season roster: can he contribute on special teams?
Ben Skowronek and Jacob Harris are two of the best special teams players on LA’s roster, so if McCutcheon is going to make the regular season roster or be active on gameday there’s a high bar for him to clear.
“It wasn’t nothing. It was just a play.”- Derek Stingley on this 22 yard reception by Lance McCutcheon pic.twitter.com/NHMlhtM7TO— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) August 20, 2022
Roger Carter, TE
In a somewhat surprising move this weekend, the Rams waived veteran tight end Kendall Blanton who was claimed by the Washington Commanders.
It was probably a combination of multiple factors that led to the demise of Blanton in LA, but perhaps one of those factors was the emergence of rookie Roger Carter.
Carter can align in the backfield as a fullback in addition to his role as a traditional tight end, and this position flexibility could have given him a leg up over the veteran. We haven’t seen the production carry over to the preseason yet, but perhaps he showed the Rams everything they need to see in training camp practices.
Or maybe Carter is more of a practice squad candidate, and LA will look to acquire a veteran as teams trim their rosters from 80 to 53 players by Tuesday, August 30th. Time will tell.
RAMS SPECIAL TEAMS TOUCHDOWN‼— LA Rams Nation (@RamsNationCP) August 20, 2022
Texans coughed up the ball and Roger Carter Jr. recovers it for the TD pic.twitter.com/eV10HiZjK0
Jake Hummel, ILB
The stars have aligned for Hummel to make the Rams’ roster, but it’s up to him to convert the opportunity over the next week.
First there was an injury to veteran linebacker and special teams player Travin Howard, who seems likely at this point to miss the start of the regular season. It was reported fairly early on in training camp that Hummel was running with the first team special teams unit, which is usually the first way a UDFA can make an impression.
But Hummel also needs to prove that he can also fill a role on defense should injuries force him into action. He’s competed with Jake Gervase in that regard, and both have been impressive in the middle of the defense this preseason.
Gervase is a veteran and converted safety. He’s been on and off the Rams’ roster since 2019, and he’s not going to give his spot up easily. Perhaps the rookie can show that he’s a reliable special teams contributor in the short-term, and that the long-term outlook for his defensive skills surpasses that of the veteran.
Former @CycloneFB LB Jake Hummel leads the #Rams in tackles during the preseason with 16. The next closest players are Grant Haley and Jake Gervase with 11. Hummel has been the Rams leading tackler in back to back weeks.— HoldenCantor (@HoldenCantor) August 22, 2022