Los Angeles kicks off the NFL regular season on September 8th versus the Buffalo Bills, but first they’ll need to trim their roster from 80 players to 53 by Tuesday afternoon. A number of individuals made the most of their preseason opportunities - here’s who stood out in the third game according to Pro Football Focus (PFF):
Top 5 offensive grades:
1 - Austin Trammell, WR: 83.6
Trammell actually graded out higher than preseason star McCutcheon; however, he was only on the field for two snaps. During his limited playing time he grabbed a 10-yard pass from Bryce Perkins.
It’s not clear why Trammell was only on the field for a short time, but he’s played well enough this season to be on some team’s practice squad - whether he stays with the Rams remains to be seen.
2 - Lance McCutcheon, WR: 76.1
McCutcheon recorded at least 75 receiving yards in all three exhibition games. He seems to have safely landed on the initial 53-man roster - perhaps it’s more relevant at this point to wonder when we will see him play in games that actually count.
3 - AJ Arcuri, OT: 72.7
4 - Max Pircher, OT: 70.2
The reserve offensive line struggled mightily throughout the preseason, but it’s encouraging to see Arcuri and Pircher standout. Arcuri, after a strong outing against the Bengals, is in a good position to make the regular season roster - especially after the season-ending injury to fellow-rookie Logan Bruss.
The equation is a bit more complicated for Pircher, who made his NFL debut and played eight snaps. As a participant in the NFL International Player Pathway program, the Rams would receiver a practice squad exemption for Pircher, but he must first clear waivers with out getting claimed by another team.
5 - Trey Ragas, RB: 68.4
Ragas ground out physical yards in the running game, and his performance was probably the most productive of any Rams running back this preseason. It’s difficult to judge the RB’s with the offensive line struggles, and the team probably has Jake Funk penciled in ahead of Ragas at this point. It’s possible he put enough on film to catch the attention of other teams.
Other notes on offense -
The lowest-graded player on offense was Funk - who recorded a PFF grade of 42.6. His best attribute is his straight-line speed, but the defensive routinely made first contact in the backfield on his rushing attempts. A silver lining from Funk’s performance - he earned a pass blocking grade of of 74.6, which is usually an area where young backs struggle.
Another terrific performance from #82 in the final preseason game. With that said your leading receiver of the preseason LANCE McCUTCHEON. An undrafted rookie free agent out of Montana State who is poised to make the team, and one day make an impact on offense! pic.twitter.com/H9iXoh7OEM— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) August 28, 2022
Top 5 defensive grades:
1 - Keir Thomas, EDGE: 76.6
While most of the attention was on seventh-round draft selection Daniel hardy heading into the preseason, Keir Thomas has hands down been the team’s best edge defender. It’ll be tough for him to make it through the numbers crunch at OLB, but he’s certainly a prime practice squad candidate.
2 - Michael Hoecht, IDL: 74.9
Hoecht has consistently been a top performer on the defensive side of the ball during the three exhibition games. He’ll also be an important special teams contributors once the regular season starts.
3 - Duron Lowe, CB: 72.1
4 - Chris Garrett, EDGE: 70.1
Garrett dominated the preseason as a rookie a year ago, but an injury kept him from participating this season until the final game. He flashed at times both rushing the passer and in the run game, though he seemed a bit out of place at times when he was asked to drop into coverage. This might just be the team testing his limits - and if he plays during the regular season he will be utilized as a pass rush specialist.
5 - Brayden Thomas, DE: 69.5
Other notes on defense -
Rookie corner Decobie Durant has struggled with tacking at times this preseason, and he missed two tackles in Saturday afternoon’s game alone which puts him at three total in as many games. With his lack of size it’s at least something worth monitoring if not already a concern. How will he fare against bigger receivers in the NFC West, such as Deebo Samuel, Deandre Hopkins, and DK Metcalf?