For the Los Angeles Rams, 2023 OTAs are well under way and reports are already coming out on which rookies are turning heads in workouts. It will be a summer of change in L.A. and expectations are that the Rams will have one of the biggest roster turnovers in the NFL after having the least in 2022. To fill that turnover abyss, L.A. drafted 14 rookies and signed another 27 from the undrafted pool as free agents.
Today will finish the introductory capsule reviews of that undrafted rookie class. Do we need to get to know them? Are they really important? It’s a simple yes to both. Of the Rams current 86 man roster, 42 come from the non-conscripted ranks. That means a lot of these non-pedigree players are going to make the roster.
If reviewing the past positional groupings interests you:
This final group is a bit of of mish-mash, three offensive linemen, one tight end, and one defensive lineman.
Guard Sean Maginn, Wake Forest
24 year-old sixth-year senior who played in 53 college games with 47 starts primarily at left guard. He does offer a little bit of versatility with two starts and some early career mop up work at center. In an interview, Maginn said he was regularly cross-trained in the pivot. Since his final college game, he has worked hard on his strength, conditioning, and line skills at a nationally-known private training facility.
Maginn is not an elite athlete, but does have the requisite athleticism that comes with being from a Power 5 conference. At the Demon Deacon Pro Day, he was taped at 6’ 3” and 298 lbs. with 9 1/4” hands and 31 1/8” arms. His speed, 5.25 forty, short area quickness, 7.57 3Cone, and lateral agility, 4.62 are all adequate numbers. His 27 reps on the bench is good and in the explosion drills, he logged a 29” vertical and 8’ 11” broad.
Against the run, the Wake Forest scheme doesn't use a lot of movement or linear power. They appear to delay the strike and manipulate the defenders charge, locking them up and sealing to allow the running backs to slither through the traffic. Maginn will need work on on transitioning to pro schemes. He shows the strength to latch on and torque defenders
In pass protection he plays with a catch/absorb technique on the rusher and in doing so doesn’t get his hands ready. It culminates in a bear hug situation and his hands getting outside the defenders frame, causing trouble consistently setting an anchor and setting him up for holding penalties. He plays hard and is willing to mix it up, but ofttimes, his awareness on loops/twists/stunts is lacking.
Can’t really say if his technique is from the coaching or just his play style, but unless he gets freakishly strong, it is hard to project him and that style as an NFL player. While he does have some traits and played against high-level competition, he needs a lot of technique work. Just making the practice squad would be his 2023 ceiling.
Center Mike McAllister, Youngstown State
Started his last 28 straight games at center, played in 41 overall. Snapped to six different quarterbacks as a starter and was a top blocker for All-American running back Jaleel McLaughlin.
Like most FCS players, particularly those in the trench, McAllister could use a pro strength/conditioning program. At his Pro Day, he was measured at a blocky 6’ 3”, 305 lbs., 9 5/8” hands, and 31 1/2” arms. Good 5.06 forty time and solid 24 rep bench. He tested adequately with a 7.64 3Cone and 4.63 shuttle. Leapt a good 29.5 vertical, and 8’ 11” broad.
Fluidly gets to second level and shows good speed when getting downfield on screen passes. Does a nice job of positioning himself to turn and seal off. Didn’t do a lot of straight ahead drive blocking, but on short yardage sneaks and around the goal line, stays low and gets push. Sets a good anchor in pass pro, gets his hands into position early, and patiently waits to to shoot them out low. Would like to see his head on a swivel when not faced up by a pass rusher, he often just backs up and doesn’t aggressively look to help out his mates.
Played in an inside/mid zone blocking scheme, similar to what the Rams used last season. Looks bigger on film than his measurements. When he stayed low and leveraged, he was quite effective, at least against inferior FCS competition. On film, he appears to have the physicality and moldable traits. Good chance at a practice squad slot.
Guard/center Grant Miller, Baylor
Son of former-Ram Fred Miller, tackle on the 2000 Super Bowl winning team. The younger Miller spent his first three seasons (2017-2020) at Vanderbilt, primarily at center and transferred to his father’s alma mater, Baylor. Between the two schools, he played in 58 college games, starting 43 of them. Won academic honors in both the SEC and Big 12.
Miller has the size at 6’ 3” 306 lbs. with big hands, 10 1/2” and good length, 33”. Not particularly athletic. At the Baylor Pro Day, he was clocked at 5.48 in the forty, 7.97 in the 3Cone drill, and a 4.79 shuttle. His 19 reps on the bench are a little light, while a 24” vertical and 8’ 6” broad don’t really jump out.
Knows how to use his length to lock up defenders, but is not a strong drive blocker. Gets much better movement when pushing laterally rather than driving straight ahead. He’s not particularly athletic, but can get to the second level from working off a double team or direct route seal blocks. Not a great puller, gets to the hole little high and doesn’t achieve much leverage or push. As a senior, Pro Football Focus graded him as the fourth-best guard in the Big 12 and rated him at 73.9 in run blocking.
Hard to argue for Miller having a huge upside. He is very experienced in zone blocking and isn’t bad at it, but didn’t knock college competition off the ball. He shows good guard/center versatility having 14 starts at center to go long with his work as a right guard. It’s just that, because of injuries, L.A. has seven linemen with NFL experience, along draftees Bruss, Avila, and McClendon. Miller’s film doesn’t stand out as being better than the incumbents.
Tight end Christian Sims, Bowling Green
Projects best as slot “big wide out” tight end, as he lacks pro blocking skills. Started 23 of 42 college games and grabbed 94 passes for 948 yards and five touchdowns. He also had three rushes for 11 yards and a touchdown. His college coach thinks he would make a “solid west-coast fullback”.
Overall, Sims has good athleticism. While his Pro Day times of 4.76 forty, 7.25 3Cone and 4.57 shuttle are not particularly impressive. His explosion testing, 22 reps on the bench, a 36.5 vertical, and 10’ 5” long jump were outstanding. His size is more like a wide receiver, he looks lean although he carries a solid 243 lbs. on a 6’ 2” frame. He has 8 1/4” hands and above average length with 32 1/2” arms.
On film he looks like a good runner with the ball in his hands, very fluid with good vision. It was hard to find full/condensed Bowling Green games, but Sims was their go-to guy and played primarily from the slot. Doesn’t look like a varied route tree, lot of underneath stuff. His hands look good, sometimes he takes off running before securing the ball. He is not afraid of the middle. Will need a lot of blocking work for the NFL and although he showed good upper body strength testing, his lower half will have to improve.
Long uphill battle for Sims. He does offer a glimpse of an athletic upside, his play on film looks faster than he tested and is willing and able to go after contested catches. But the Rams have three veterans ahead of him and drafted a more polished candidate in Davis Allen.
Defensive lineman Taron Vincent - Ohio State
Former five star recruit was rated the nations #1 defensive tackle, but was never was able to live up to the billing. At 6’ 305 lbs., Vincent is cut stocky with a low center of gravity and has big lower half. His hands are 8 7/8” with relatively short 31 3/8” arms. His testing at the Ohio State Pro Day was a 5.15 forty, 8 flat in the 3Cone, and a 4.80 shuttle. He pressed 26 reps on the bench, had a 26.5 vertical, and leapt 8’ in the broad.
Played five seasons and started 20 of 40 games for the Buckeyes. Vincent ended up with 60 tackles, nine of those for loss, and added 2.5 sacks. Had some injury problems early in his college days with knee and labrum woes. He was a three-time Academic All Big 10.
Lacks athleticism, but has the grit to do the defensive line dirty work. Vincent doesn’t create a lot of penetration, his first step and overall burst are not impressive. He does get his hands working early and moves well laterally. A big part of his college role was taking on double teams to allow others space. His footwork looks good too, staying leveraged and balanced when moving while engaged.
Vincent was not much of a college pass rusher and doesn’t appear to have the traits to be able to add much pressure in L.A. With a lot of hard work and added play strength, it seems that early-down run stopper is his NFL ceiling. He’s another late-round, high-effort, smart addition. With all the Rams defensive line depth and competition, if Vincent can garner a practice squad berth, he would surpass expectations.
Anyone with a shot at the roster?
Can’t realistically step out on any of this group, they all need substantial work. I would though, keep an eye on Mike McAllister and how he transitions to the pro game. Like so many prospects who have toiled against lesser competition, unless they were just totally dominant in school, it remains to be seen on the practice field how McAllister’s natural skills translates against NFL players. In his favor, he plays with an edge, is nimble enough with his footwork, and has experience in the Rams scheme.
The others, not so much. Sean Maginn appears serviceable against top college competition and is certainly durable with 3800+ career snaps. The problem is that not one thing stands erout about his game. Grant Miller played against good competition, as well, and is well versed in outside zone blocking, but just doesn’t appear to get enough push at the Big 12 level, let alone the NFL. Although Christian Sims has good athleticism for a tight end, he was used like a wide receiver and needs to bolster his blocking ability. Kind of a tweener, not really physical enough to play inline and when compared to other NFL “move” tight ends, his athleticism upside fades. Taron Vincent doesn’t really have a natural spot either. He’s a bit small for run stopping nose player and doesn’t offer much giddy up as a pass rusher. The Rams already have a handful of smaller defensive linemen who have shown they can handle rotational snaps.
Do fans think any of these candidates have more potential than I am giving them credit for?