Factor II: Don’t expect them to succeed until they prove that they can
The LA Rams have no problem redshirting a younger player for one, two, or even three seasons. This is a team that plays an incredibly effective strategy. How so? Let’s examine the dynamics of a young player who was added to the Rams roster as an undrafted rookie, like defensive lineman Michael Hoecht?
He was undrafted in 2020, and due to the rigors of a highly regulated COVID-19 protocol, had a crash course training camp to compete for a roster spot. Rather than cut the guy, or force him to play unprepared, the Rams signed him to the practice squad (as they have done with many defensive rookies in the past). Last season, he benefited from a more traditional training camp and earned a spot on the 53-man active LA Rams roster. Despite his familiarity, he only played 110 defensive snaps.
This season, he has been listed at Aaron Donald’s primary backup. That is huge, particularly for a player who arrived to the team undrafted just two years earlier. But his story is not unique. Of the LA Rams unofficial defensive depth chart, five of the team’s primary backups were undrafted. On offense, four of the 11 primary backs were undrafted.
If the Rams can convert nine players into NFL worth backups in just two years time, is it all worth it? You decide. Clearly, the LA Rams love the results of their strategy. And why not? Not only do the Rams end up with successful NFL players, but they are certain after two seasons of coaching and experience, that they have the type of player that they need for their team philosophy and culture.
The LA Rams have bisected their offseason program. For returning veterans, the offseason is a refresher course. A ‘here’s what’s new’ coupled with a cardio exercise program to get the guys back into NFL playing shape. But for the newer players fighting for roster spots and playing time, the offseason is focused upon bring them up to speed. The team features only bubble players in preseason games.
Ask yourselves this: Why are other teams rapidly adopting the LA Rams process this year?