At some point in the very near future, the St. Louis Rams will released their official list of roster cuts, being mandated to trim down from 90 to 75 players. By the start of the regular season, there will be even more casualties, dropping from a 75-man squad to the final, 53-man roster. At this point, we have had three preseason games and a couple of dozen practices to see the entire Rams’ roster, including the fringe players. While the “final” roster might look a little different, with St. Louis’ likely to make some minor modification with free agents being dropped from around the league, this is how we predict the 53-man roster will look at the end of August.
Quarterback: Sam Bradford, Austin Davis, Kellen Clemens (3)
Sam Bradford is obviously not going anywhere, but it is highly unlikely that either of the two backups will be leaving the St. Louis Rams either. Had Clemens or Davis stepped up this offseason, the other would likely be getting his “walking papers” some point in the next couple of week. Since neither has, to this point, it is likely the St. Louis Rams will keep all three players on board.
Running Back: Daryl Richardson, Zac Stacy, Isaiah Pead, Benny Cunningham (4)
The top three spots on the running back depth chart are essentially locks for the final roster, with all three being either rookie or second year draftees. The last spot at running back appeared to be a battle between Terrance Ganaway and Benny Cunningham. For the last couple of weeks, it appeared as though Cunningham had pulled ahead of Ganaway on the depth chart, with Ganaway being a “surprise” scratch against the Cleveland Browns, and the rookie getting a fair chuck of the touches with the 3rd-team unit. With Ganaway’s “retirement,” the Cunningham decision is nearly a foregone conclusion.
Wide Receiver: Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey, Austin Pettis, Justin Veltung (6)
Surprisingly, the wide receiver corps for the St. Louis Rams is one of the most solidified positions on the roster. Typically, at this point in the offseason, there would be a massive divide as to who should make the roster and who should not. Instead, there is only one “opening” in the corps, likely to be filled by the biggest special teams contributor. With the announcement that fan favorite, Andrew Helmick, would be released, the battle for the sixth receiver is down to: Justin Veltung, Raymond Radway, and Nick Johnson. The “upper hand” likely goes to Veltung, who has received the most looks on special teams, and could be valuable in game planning against the Seattle Seahawks, having been in their system for a portion of the offseason.
Fullback/Tight End: Lance Kendricks, Mike McNeill, Jared Cook, Cory Harkey (4)
Much like the running backs, the top tight ends on the roster are in no danger of losing their roster spot. However, with Cory Harkey coming out of the Denver Broncos‘ game with an injury, that final slot of the tight end depth chart might be up for grabs. Philip Lutzenkirchen will likely be waived as some point in the next week, but Zach Potter will undoubtedly make the 75-man cut, and, assuming Harkey misses time with injury, could certainly earn his spot with a solid week of practice and a decent game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Update: According to Jim Thomas, of the St. Louis Dispatch-Post, Cory Harkey has a “slight fracture in his lower leg and could miss about a month of action.”
Offensive Line: Rodger Saffold, Harvey Dahl, Scott Wells, Chris Williams, Jake Long, Joe Barksdale, Shelley Smith, Barrett Jones (8)
Even with injuries being a concern for the St. Louis Rams’ offensive line, there is no fringe lineman that will earn a spot on the 53-man roster this season. That point was made clear when Jeff Fisher proclaimed that Sam Bradford was “tied to Rodger Saffold” during the Denver Broncos game, insinuating that he did not trust any of the other offensive tackle on the current roster (aside from Joe Barksdale, who did not make the trip due to a hand infection). Chris Williams is likely to be announced as the Week 1 starter at left guard sometime this week, which means that Shelley Smith will be the backup guard, with the ability to play on both the right and left side of the center. Barrett Jones has played almost exclusively at center in his limited time this offseason, but could competently maintain any spot on the interior of the offensive line. The Rams seem content with keeping one “utility” depth player at each position on the offensive line. Let’s hope that works out!
Defensive Line: Chris Long, Kendall Langford, Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn, William Hayes, Matt Conrath, Jermelle Cudjo, Eugene Sims, Gerald Rivers (9)
Last season, the St. Louis Rams kept nine defensive lineman on their 53-man roster at the start of September. However, Michael Brocker was out for the opening quarter of the season with an ankle injury, and the Rams needed some depth on the interior of the defensive line. This year, Jeff Fisher will keep nine lineman as a luxury, helped by quality depth on the offense and in the linebacker corps. Fisher has made it a point to mention Gerald Rivers in nearly every press conference since the Week 2 matchup against the Green Bay Packers. With his devotion to maintaining a “fresh” defensive line rotation, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rams give Rivers a shot on the 53-man roster. Mason Brodine might also make a push for that “luxury” spot, but it seems more likely that he will get waived and, hopefully, retained on the practice squad.
Linebackers: Alec Ogletree, James Laurinaitis, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Will Witherspoon, Josh Hull, Ray Ray Armstrong (6)
On the defensive side of the football, this might be the most “set in stone” position on the St. Louis Rams roster. Witherspoon is a beloved veteran, all-purpose linebacker, Josh Hull is a special teams ace, and there is no way that Jeff Fisher will risk losing Ray Ray Armstrong in hopes that he clears waivers. For once, the Rams appear to have a very solid group of players in the linebacker corps. Jabara Williams and Jonathan Stewart are the Wild Cards, but with Williams “out” with injury, and Stewart not leaving any definitive mark this preseason, it is likely the end of the road for both players.
Cornerback: Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Brandon McGee, Quinton Pointer (5)
Basically, any player that was drafted in the last two season, or that makes over $9 million per season, will make the final roster. The lone exception to that rule will be Quinton Pointer, who bounced between the practice squad and the active roster last season. Pointer has proven to be a valuable special teams player, and has some on-field, NFL experience in the secondary. Undrafted rookie, Robert Steeples, has already been release from the team. Sadly, there are a handful of others who will see their chance with the St. Louis Rams vanish over the next week.
Safety: T.J. McDonald, Darian Stewart, Rodney McLeod, Matt Daniels, Cody Davis (5)
The top four safeties on the list are undisputable, with McLeod and Stewart still battling for the other starting safety spot, and Daniels being held in high regards by the Rams’ coaching staff. Of all of the positions on the roster, safety might be the most volatile, with veteran addition, Matt Giordano, seeing minimal reps as a result of a nagging lower-body soft tissue injury. Even undrafted rookie, Rashard Hall, has had a couple of bright moments this preseason, and would undoubtedly find himself as a prime contributor on special teams. However, Cody Davis has been a “regular” mention in the broadcasting booth in all three preseason games, and has seen most of the second-team snaps since Stewart suffered the hamstring injury. The roster cutting process is a game of numbers, and with uncertainty and supreme talent elsewhere on the roster, the Rams will have to make some tough decisions.
Special Teams: Johnny Hekker, Greg Zuerlein, Jake McQuaide (3)
No need to justify any of these three players…
Note: Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), players with suspensions or PUP designations to not count against the roster until their suspension has been completed or Week 6 of the regular season, respectively. So, both Isaiah Pead (1-game suspension) and Jo-Lonn Dunbar (4-game suspension) technically will not count against the 53-man roster, and the St. Louis Rams would be able to maintain players in their place while their suspensions are being served. However, to simplify the predictions, we’ll stick with the basics.
Here is Ramblin’ Fan’s full, 53-man depth chart:
|Position||No. 1||No. 2||No. 3||No. 4|
|QB||Sam Bradford||Austin Davis||Kellen Clemens|
|RB||Daryl Richardson||Zac Stacy||Isaiah Pead||Benny Cunningham|
|WR1||Chris Givens||Brian Quick||Stedman Bailey|
|WR2||Tavon Austin||Austin Pettis||Justin Veltung|
|FB/TE||Lance Kendricks||Mike McNeill|
|TE||Jared Cook||Cory Harvey|
|LG||Chris Williams||Shelley Smith|
|C||Scott Wells||Barrett Jones|
|RT||Rodger Saffold||Joe Barksdale|
|DE1||Chris Long||Williams Hayes|
|DE2||Robert Quinn||Eugene Sims||Gerald Rivers|
|DT1||Kendall Langford||Matt Conrath|
|DT2||Michael Brockers||Jermelle Cudjo|
|ROLB||Jo-Lonn Dunbar||Will Witherspoon|
|MLB||James Laurinaitis||Josh Hull|
|LOLB||Alec Ogletree||Ray Ray Armstrong|
|CB1||Cortland Finnegan||Trumaine Johnson||Quinton Pointer|
|CB2||Janoris Jenkins||Brandon McGee|
|FS||Rodney McLeod||Darian Stewart||Cody Davis|
|SS||T.J. McDonald||Matt Daniels|
Anyone missing from our projected roster? Something wrong in the depth chart? Let your voice be heard by dropping a comment below!