There was a time not long ago in which fans of the Los Angeles Rams were hoping that Paris Ford would make plays for that defense. Those hopes for the 2021 undrafted free agent never came to fruition, but not long ago Ford did make a big play on defense by making his first interception...
As a member of the New Jersey Generals in the USFL.
Ford is one of several former Rams currently playing in the USFL. But there are others who came through L.A. during the Sean McVay era who still have their NFL dreams alive. We all know about he big names, but what about some of the fringe players?
Some of these names are still in the NFL and you probably didn’t even realize it.
This is not a comprehensive list, just a few of the lesser known players from beginning in Sean McVay’s first offseason with the team, so feel free to add more in the comments if you are inclined.
WR Nsimba Webster, Bears
The Rams waived Webster in July, 2021, after two years with the team. He was L.A.’s primary returner in 2020 and then had a short stint on the 49ers. Webster spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Bears and remains there now, fighting for a spot on special teams. He has played in 19 total offensive snaps through four years in the NFL and appeared in two games total last season.
Chicago also added for Rams linebacker Terrell Lewis this offseason, in case you forgot.
TE Johnny Mundt, Vikings
Not only are Mundt’s dreams being kept alive by former Rams OC Kevin O’Connell, but Minnesota threw at him 21 times last season. Mundt caught 19 of those throws for 140 yards and a touchdown. That’s more than he had in five seasons with the Rams, as he finished his L.A. career with 10 catches for 93 yards and no touchdowns. It seems Mundt could even see his role expand next season.
DT Tanzel Smart, Jets
Smart, a sixth rounder in 2017 out of Tulane, played 306 snaps during his rookie season, but only made it to two games in 2018. He played 171 snaps in 2019 and then was released in May, 2020. Smart spent a little time with the Bills and Browns before being added to the Jets practice squad in October of that year. He has played in 75 snaps with the Jets—next to former Rams teammate John Franklin-Myers—in the past two years.
WR Mike Thomas, Ravens
You knew that Baltimore signed Odell Beckham, Jr., but did you know Thomas is fighting for the right to join him on the Ravens receiving corps this year? It’ll be a tough battle for Thomas, who spent the last three years with the Bengals, as Baltimore has a deep competition at that spot: OBJ, plus first rounders Rashod Bateman and Zay Flowers, then Devin Duvernay, Nelson Agholor, Andy Isabella, James Proche, Laquon Treadwell, Tylan Wallace, Thomas, and four others.
Thomas actually had 198 offensive snaps in Cincinnati last year, but is primarily run blocking, as he only caught two passes.
OT Cornelius Lucas, Commanders
You may not remember his time with the Rams, but Sean McVay played in for one game in 2017. He’s been with the Saints, Bears, and now Commanders since then and he’s currently backing up right tackle Andrew Wylie.
S Cody Davis, Patriots
A special teams ace who also played in over 500 defensive snaps from 2016-2017, Davis then spent two years on the Jaguars and the last three on the Patriots. He has only played one defensive snap for Bill Belichick, but he’s one of New England’s most important role players on special teams. Which is saying something for the franchise that has a potential Hall of Fame coverage specialist in Matthew Slater.
Cory Harkey, Bills (COACH)
Harkey’s playing days ended after his Rams stint ended with McVay’s arrival in 2017, but he was still on the team that year in training camp. He started coaching at the college level in 2019 and he’s a special teams assistant coach on the Bills right now.
LB Cory Littleton, Texans
After signing a big free agent contract with the Raiders in 2020, Littleton was cut in 2022 and spent last season with the Panthers. He’s fighting to stay in the NFL this year with the Houston Texans, where he will compete for former Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans, the new head coach there.
LS Jake McQuaide, Lions
McQuaide is now with the Lions after spending the past two seasons with the Cowboys.
DT Mike Purcell, Broncos
You may have forgotten that Purcell, a very important nose tackle for the Broncos these last four years, failed to make the Rams roster in 2017. He started his career with the 49ers and was with five different teams until emerging with Denver in 2019.
LB Samson Ebukam, Colts
After two years with the 49ers, Ebukam starts his career in Indy this season. Conversely, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo left Houston for Cleveland this offseason. Speaking of which...
RB John Kelly, Browns
You can’t keep him down. Kelly remains on Cleveland’s roster despite not playing very much on offense or special teams. He’s in his fourth year as a member of practice squad or 53-man roster.
WR KhaDarel Hodge, Falcons
Hodge caught a career-high 13 passes for 202 yards and his first career touchdown in 2022. He definitely has an opportunity this year to earn a role in the offense again, as Atlanta lacks clear talent at the position after Drake London and Mack Hollins.
QB Brandon Allen, 49ers
Of all the quarterbacks on San Francisco’s roster, the one nobody talks about is Brandon Allen.
WR Greg Dortch, Cardinals
One of the unlikeliest stories of all, Dortch caught 52 passes for 467 yards last season. That’s more than most Rams! He could be a significant player on the team this year and he’s only 25.
WR Trishton Jackson, Vikings
Ask and a former coach who has gone to a new team shall deliver. O’Connell has also given Jackson a shot at the NFL again, signing him to a futures contract in January.
S Juju Hughes, Cardinals
Hughes made 18 tackles for the Lions last season and he’s battling for a roster spot on the Cardinals this year.