clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sony Michel isn’t guaranteed a spot on Rams roster

Kyren Williams, Zach Evans are better options for LA’s youth movement, but are they ready to contribute?

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Sony Michel is a welcome addition to the young running back group of the Los Angeles Rams, though a spot on the 53-man roster is no guarantee for the veteran back.

While Michel played an important role over stretches of LA’s 2021 Super Bowl campaign, he’s found it tough to stick on a roster and contribute in a meaningful way since. The RB signed with the Miami Dolphins in free agency after his time with the Rams, only to get cut before the start of the regular season—he then signed with the Los Angeles Chargers but managed just 36 carries over 10 games.

In some ways the signing of Michel comes a year too late for Los Angeles, as he would have brought a stability to a running back corps in great flux last season: starter Cam Akers had a disagreement with head coach Sean McVay and spent several weeks away from the team, key reserve Darrell Henderson fell out of favor and was released from the roster mid-season, rookie Kyren Williams battled a number of injuries before finding his footing late, and even Ronnie Rivers made a start while Akers was away.

Michel now finds himself not only fighting for a contributing role on offense, but batting for a roster spot in 2023.

The competition in the Rams running back room should be as fierce as it’s been under McVay, and LA would likely prefer for the younger backs to prove themselves as capable—making the veteran presence of Michel expendable:

RB#1 - Cam Akers (4th season)

The range of outcomes for Akers ahead of next season is vast. He’s been inconsistent for the Rams despite earning a starting role as a rookie, though an Achilles tear before his second year derailed his development.

Through the team’s final six games, Akers accumulated 512 yards at a 4.9 yards per carry clip with six touchdowns. He also added another 11 receptions for 99 yards to finish the season on a strong note. He seemingly impressed the coaching staff in minicamp and hopes to maintain the momentum he built late last year.

RB#2 - Kyren Williams (2nd season)

In my view—and possibly the view of the Rams—Williams isn’t the true backup to Akers, though he might finish second out of the group in terms of total touches/snaps. The expectation is that the second year back will develop into a true third down threat and be able to contribute out of the backfield in obvious passing situations, and he found some success in this role last season before Akers started his hot streak.

The quick passing game is something McVay and Matthew Stafford have struggled with over the last two seasons, and Williams might be able to help them improve in that facet.

RB#3 - Sony Michel (6th season)

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Michel will bring a stable presence to LA’s young RB room and comes in as the best of the bunch in pass protection. He’ll fight to churn extra yardage after contact, but adds little as a receiver or explosive runner—both are increasingly important in today’s NFL.

RB#4 - Zach Evans (1st season)

In terms of on-field talent, just a year ago Evans was considered as a borderline first round pick with more athletic promise than any others amongst this group, save for Akers.

Evans’ struggles are off the field, and these concerns are significant enough that he fell to the Rams in the sixth round. He’ll benefit from Michel’s presence, though if the rookie keeps his head on straight he might run the veteran out of town.

RB#5 - Ronnie Rivers (2nd season)

As a rookie Rivers was billed as a fluid runner who is also adept as a pass catcher. In his lone start last season he managed 21 yards on eight carries (2.6 average) along with four receptions for 15 yards. It’s worth mentioning that he probably didn’t have a fair chance behind the Rams injury-riddled offensive line against a formidable San Francisco 49ers defensive front.