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Which ‘surprise’ player on Rams’ 53-man roster will have biggest impact this year?

From Lance McCutcheon to Keir Thomas, who will make their way into the rotation this season?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals Albert Cesare-USA TODAY Sports

Now that Sean McVay has decided on the 53 players who will be protected entering the season, and the 17 players who comprise the practice squad, the head coach must now decide each week who will be on the active gameday roster. Even if Lance McCutcheon is on the roster today, will he be available when the Rams face the Buffalo Bills next Thursday?

(Holy moly, the Rams play the Bills NEXT THURSDAY!)

Let’s talk briefly about some of the “surprises” on the Rams roster, whether that be players who we knew would make the team, but didn’t know were so safe, and to the ones who maybe snuck in over the last couple of weeks. Which of these L.A. Rams can have the biggest impact on the team during their attempt to repeat as Super Bowl champions?

WR Lance McCutcheon

The star of preseason, McCutcheon is blocked by multiple other receivers on the roster and even if he’s been hustling to participate on special teams as a way to make the team, will he be targeted by Matthew Stafford at all this season? I legitimately believe that if he played on several other teams, McCutcheon could be a viable weapon on an offense today. The player I keep coming back to is Robby Anderson; undrafted out of Temple in 2016, Anderson caught 42 passes for 587 yards with the Jets as a rookie.

But McCutcheon isn’t on the 2016 Jets. Or the 2021 Jets. Opportunities are not there because he’s not only blocked by starters, but by the backups. Speaking of which...

WR Ben Skowronek

The forgotten one. Skowronek has used his special teams ability to turn himself from a seventh rounder into a lock by his second year. That surprises some people, especially given Skowronek’s inconsistency as a receiver last season. Benny Benny Skow Skow caught 11 of 20 targets in the regular season, then only two of six for 12 yards in the playoffs. Most of that was in the Super Bowl.

Skowronek won’t see many targets unless there’s an injury. Could he develop into a weapon for Stafford?

TE Brycen Hopkins

While Hopkins is also not a “surprise” at this point, it is surprising that McVay saw him as a lock for TE2, but he cut Kendall Blanton before it was even time for final cuts. Do you see Hopkins as a tight end who will be utilized as often as Gerald Everett or more of the case as it was in 2021, when he and Blanton were rarely used until finally a Tyler Higbee injury forced that to be the case?

RB Jake Funk

Kyren Williams was practically guaranteed a spot from day one and he’s even worked his way over Funk to be the third option next to the top two running backs. Will Funk see any carries this season or is he strictly going to play special teams?

DL Marquise Copeland

He’s another case of a player who we didn’t realize was a lock to make the roster until it became apparent through a lack of preseason appearances. Copeland is now a part of this roster, as are Jonah Williams and Michael Hoecht, and he’s on the fringes of getting into the game and a part of a dangerous rotation. Those three players are in the same spot that Greg Gaines was in a year ago. Which of these three do you think has the greatest odds of being a starting defensive lineman for the Rams (or another NFL team)?

OLB Keir Thomas

At a certain point by the third preseason game, Thomas became the “Lance McCutcheon of defense.” Now he and Daniel Hardy, a seventh round pick, are on the precipice of stepping into the game if anything happens to one of the starters/rotational pieces. We just don’t know what to expect from Terrell Lewis and Justin Hollins, so maybe Thomas isn’t that far away. Will he be active in Week 1 against Buffalo?

ILB Christian Rozeboom / ILB Jake Hummel

L.A. kept these two as inside linebacker depth behind two very important starters in Bobby Wagner and Ernest Jones. Rozeboom nearly got away but he’s now back on the team and has solidified his place on the roster after a short stint in Carolina. Hummel is an undrafted free agent who shot up the depth chart and assured himself a spot by the preseason finale.

DB Russ Yeast

Another seventh rounder, Yeast didn’t get as much mention as fellow rookie defensive backs Derion Kendrick and Cobie Durant, but it is yet to be seen who will have the most productive career. A fourth player, Quentin Lake, will throw his name into the hat soon.

Which of these players will have the biggest impact in 2022? Setting aside Hopkins for being way too obvious, I would say that Marquise Copeland has his shot this year to become a very rich man in the near future. As he put it himself, “I was born poor but I’m die rich.” You just might!

If preseason playing time says anything, his lack of reps suggests that he is number four on the defensive line and that means he could get a heck of a lot of snaps this year. Playing next to who he will be playing next to, that’s an amazing opportunity.

What say you?