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Can this second-year Rams safety earn a starting role in 2023?

Quentin Lake is healthy in camp this time, can he win the job at safety?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Minicamp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams have a lot of opportunity and unproven talent when it comes to their secondary heading into 2023. After letting Nick Scott and Taylor Rapp walk in free agency, the Rams will be looking for their starting safety opposite of Jordan Fuller in training camp.

However, the good news here is that the Rams have done a very good job when it comes to developing safeties over recent years. John Johnson III, Jordan Fuller, and Nick Scott are three names that immediately come to mind. The Rams will be hoping the next in line in that conversation is 2022 sixth-round pick, Quentin Lake.

Between now and the Rams’ first preseason game, I’m going to preview approximately 45 players on the roster. The goal here will be to highlight players looking to take that next step in 2023 as well as players who will serve as key depth on the roster. I may expand into the occasional star or roster-bubble player, but for the most part we’ll be looking at the players who will truly make or break the Rams season.

Today, let’s look at Quentin Lake.

2022 Season in Review

Lake didn't play a lot in the 2022 season due to an undisclosed knee injury. He began the year on the PUP list and wasn’t activated until mid-November. Lake only played 63 defensive snaps as a rookie, 52 of those coming in Week 18 against the Seattle Seahawks. In that game, Lake had five tackles, including a sack. He also played 138 snaps on special teams where he had two tackles.

The Good/Best Case Scenario

It’s hard to be overly positive when it comes to Lake other than this was a player that the Rams were excited about after drafting in the sixth-round. He drew some comparisons to Fuller as a rookie, but unfortunately, he rookie year was derailed with an early injury.

The best case scenario for Lake heading into this season is that he does earn the starting role and develops into that player that had so many excited about him coming out of UCLA. If Lake stays healthy and looks comfortable in the starting role next to Fuller, that would be a big win for the Rams.

The Bad/Worst Case Scenario

As is the case with most players in the Rams secondary, Lake is a complete unknown. He began his rookie season injured which didn’t help his development. Then, 82 percent of his snaps came in one game which was Week 18. It's nice that Lake got some live-game experience, but without the injury, that could have been more.

Heading into the season, the Rams have a lot of young safeties competing for roster spots. The worst case scenario is that Lake gets surpassed on the depth chart by these players and ends up getting cut.

Biggest Question: Can Quentin Lake earn a starting role?

With how much opportunity that there is at the safety position, Lake certainly can earn a starting role on the 2023 Rams defense. For him to do so, he’ll need to impress in training camp and the preseason.

The issue here is that Lake doesn’t have a lot of experience even when you compare him to another second-year safety like Russ Yeast. Lake was a smart player coming out of UCLA with some positional versatility. This will be a very big training camp for him to prove himself.

Roster Battle

Lake is most certainly battling for a roster spot even though he was just drafted last season. Yeast will be his primary competition, but the Rams also drafted Jason Taylor II and then signed players like Quindell Johnson, Rashad Torrence III, and Tanner Ingle. All of those players will be hungry for roster spots. Outside of Fuller, absolutely nothing is guaranteed at safety.

2023 Outlook and What to Expect

The expectations for Lake heading into year two should be for him to find a role on defense whether that is as a starter or a third safety. For a sixth-round pick coming off of an injury, it seems unfair to expect him to jump right into a starting role. If Lake can find a role on defense through and look comfortable doing that, it would be a good starting point for the second-year player.

Chances of Making Final Roster

As much as I liked Lake coming out of UCLA, his roster spot is far from guaranteed. Taylor, Torrence, Johnson, and Ingle aren’t going to make it easy for him. He is probably still the favorite, but it wouldn’t be a shock if he were to get cut and end up on another team or the practice squad.

Final Roster Confidence: 4.3/10