The Los Angeles Rams have trimmed their roster from 90 players down to the final 53. The team can now turn their focus towards the regular season opener against the Seattle Seahawks on September 10th.
Los Angeles brought in an army of rookies this season after selecting 14 prospects in the NFL Draft and signing a large crop of undrafted free agents. The result was a churn of the lower rungs of the roster, and there are several names on the final 53 that even some die-hard fans might not recognize—especially on defense.
These are a few things I think now that the dust is starting to settle on the initial 53, though some tweaking remains on the horizon.
1 - Let’s call it the “initial” 53 instead of “final”
As it sits at this moment, the Rams are kicker-less after releasing rookie UDFA Tanner Brown. A number of kickers have changed teams over the last few days as trades and surprise cuts took place around the league—the musical chairs will leave capable players without a seat and that is where the Rams will likely look in the short term.
Sean McVay said rookie OLB Ochaun Mathis (knee) will go on Injured Reserve.— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) August 29, 2023
Note that in order for a player to receive an IR return designation, they must be on the 53-man roster beyond the cut deadline, which likely explains why Mathis was on the initial 53.
Another transaction that can be expected is the placement of rookie edge rusher Ochaun Mathis on injured reserve, which would allow him to return at some point this season. Mathis had to make the initial 53 before the team could place him on the reserve list, but this effectively opens up space for another transaction (kicker or something else).
I also wouldn’t rule out the Rams making a claim given their high priority after a 5-12 record in 2022. They should make the most of the opportunity while they have it. Edge rusher, quarterback, offensive line, and interior defensive line make a lot of sense for them if there’s someone they like available.
2 - Logan Bruss did not deserve to make this roster
The Rams could not have been more wrong in their evaluation of Bruss. After drafting him 104 overall in 2022—a need pick as LA was looking to replace Austin Corbett who they lost in free agency—Les Snead and Sean McVay anointed Bruss as a day one starter at right guard. The former Wisconsin Badger struggled mightily during the preseason before his rookie campaign was cut short due to injury. Bruss didn’t show much improvement this preseason, and not only did he give up pressure but he was often beat badly, quickly.
You can try to make the argument that the Rams failed Bruss by moving him from right guard to right tackle this offseason and then playing him on the left side to establish himself as a swing tackle. Sure, the team probably deserves some blame for the lack of stability; however, the results on the field speak louder than anything else and Bruss simply fell short at every opportunity.
It’s encouraging that the Rams decided to move on instead of holding on to Bruss given his draft status. Same goes to Robert Rochell who was a former fourth round pick and a corner that just never developed. Let the best players play.
Rams GM Les Snead said G Logan Bruss “was definitely one of the players we asterisked” that if we was still on the board at 104, they were going to stand pat there. pic.twitter.com/zRuHd6Ml5r— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) April 30, 2022
3 - The Rams have learned some roster lessons in recent years
Two recent examples of wasted roster spots in hopes of “stashing” players for future development stand out to me: (1) keeping Bryce Perkins on the 53-man roster for two seasons who wasn’t even in training camp for a team this offseason and (2) holding on to Lance McCutcheon last year when it was clear there was no path to the field for him.
The “redshirt” year approach that LA has used in recent years simply hasn’t worked out, and there is example after example. The good players will separate themselves early, and that’s the case with WR Puka Nacua or CB Tre Tomlinson this year—already those two individuals seem to be outplaying their draft status of fifth and sixth round picks, respectively.
Ochaun Mathis is the closest thing the Rams had to a “stash” this year, and his roster spot will soon be open for someone else. We often make too much of players being poached from the practice squad, and the Rams likely won’t have to worry about that much this season given the state of their roster.