If we’re being technical about it, the 2023 undrafted free agent signing who has the best odds to make the final 53-man roster is probably longsnapper Alex Ward. Without any competition and playing a position that usually goes to an undrafted free agent, whether he’s a rookie or a 10-year veteran, Ward really has to “mishandle” this opportunity to not finish training camp as a part of L.A.’s 2023 roster.
There’s also a kicking competition between two undrafted free agents, for now, and those two being Christopher Dunn and Tanner Brown. As they did in 2021, the Rams could still bring in a veteran or two or three, but if either of Dunn or Brown performs well this summer and into camp, then L.A. could have two undrafted free agents playing key roles on special teams.
That number likely goes even higher when talking about returners and coverage units, as undrafted free agents will be competing for spots all over the roster.
Receivers Xavier Smith and Sam Jones could compete with seventh round safety Jason Taylor II to be the next kick and/or punt returner for the L.A. Rams. And the Rams have open openings all over the roster, but especially on defense, as names like DeAndre Square, Kelechi Anyalebechi, Timarcus Davis, and Tyon Davis are just a few of the undrafted rookies hoping to impress coaches this summer.
However, when I am looking for clues that signal the player who the team already likes, there’s nothing more telling than a signing bonus. It may seem like a small amount relative to their peers in the NFL as a whole, but the undrafted free agent to get the biggest signing bonus is often the one who had the most teams competing for his services after the draft.
It’s not the same as being a first round pick. The odds are still low. But relative to his peers, signing bonus is a very telling indicator.
And the undrafted free agent who got the biggest signing bonus from the Rams in 2023 was safety Quindell Johnson. His $30,000 signing bonus is not a lot compared to the top UDFA signing bonuses in the NFL, but out of the $116,500 total in full guarantees that L.A. gave out to undrafted free agents, it’s a big piece of the pie.
Highest top guaranteed money given to an individual 2023 UDFA:— Nick Korte (@nickkorte) May 16, 2023
Only six NFL teams handed out less in full guarantees to undrafted free agents than the L.A. Rams did this year. Only four teams had a smaller “biggest” guarantee than L.A.’s $30,000 signing bonus to Johnson.
That would mean that more than 25% of the Rams undrafted free agent budget for signing bonuses went to only one player: Quindell Johnson.
The L.A. Rams drafted 14 players, which is a huge number already, but they didn’t pick Johnson. It seems very evident though that if they had 15 picks, Johnson would have been the next guy up and it could be that he may have gone earlier than some of the prospects who L.A. actually drafted. Why not draft him then? The Rams may have felt that they had a better chance to lure Johnson in with a signing bonus than some of the names who were drafted.
One of Quindell Johnson’s key advantages over other safeties is his length, with 33” arms and a 77” wingspan. At 6’ and 201 lbs, his 4.53 40-yard dash is right there with the top safeties in the NFL Draft at similar sizes, such as Ji’Ayir Brown, JL Skinner, and Chamarri Conner.
Quindell Johnson is a FS prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 7.31 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 264 out of 976 FS from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/bLIaOzKMSk #Rams pic.twitter.com/C2bqFIq6w6— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 30, 2023
Spending his career at Memphis with twin brother Kendall, Johnson racked up 320 tackles, 15.5 TFL, 10 interceptions, and 34 deflected passes in four years as a starter at safety. He could, at worst, make the Rams as a rookie because of his effort on special teams. At best, he could be a value at safety similar to Jordan Fuller and Nick Scott, sixth and seventh round picks, respectively.