Perhaps there has been tighter roster competition in the recent past for the LA Rams, but for the life of me, I cannot recall a more competitive Rams roster situation under head coach Sean McVay. You may have expected, as I had, that the LA Rams 2022 rookie class would arrive and be a bit lagging, relegated to the team’s practice squad. Had that happened, all of the numerous young players who were stockpiled and/or injured from the 2021 rookie class would have almost no trouble claiming their roster spots this year.
But the Rams rookie class of 2022 didn’t get the memo and has proceeded to put up a very competitive effort of their own to claim roster spots. And for the life of me, I have to say that some appear to be winning.
To the LA Rams organization, better competition results in a better overall team. And while we may be seeing the best of their players competing for playing time this year, the fact is that 53 players of the Rams’ remaining 85 will stay with the team to open the season, while 16 will be signed to the team’s practice squad, and another 16 will return to their home, hopeful that they will hear their phone ring and be invited to compete for playing time on another NFL team’s roster.
Did we overestimate the competitiveness of the Rams’ 2021 rookie class, presuming that for the most part, any roster vacancy would automatically fall to returning players who had a year to familiarize themselves with the city of Los Angeles, and learn all of the ins and outs of the LA Rams organization?
Rams roster: Class of 2021 versus class of 2022?
Or did we underestimate just how competitive the rookie class of 2022 would be right out of the gates? The class of 2021 was thick with wide receivers, and yet most of the preseason chatter so far this year has been about an undrafted rookie receiver who appears to be exactly what the Rams offense has been looking for in Montana State’s Lance McCutcheon. The Rams need a young outside linebacker to step up and absorb defensive snaps, but this year’s buzz is more about rookie Daniel Hardy than last year’s wunderkind Chris Garrett.
The Rams will certainly enjoy the surplus. After all, they have been one of the most effective NFL organizations at finding NFL starters on Day 3 of the NFL or even after the draft has concluded.
Case in point: for the Rams’ second preseason game against the Houston Texans, the team is reportedly dressing just four wide receivers: Jacob Harris, Lance McCutcheon, Landen Akers, and Austin Tramell.
Of the group, only Lance McCutcheon is a rookie. But all four players are fighting for their lives for a chance to remain with the Rams this year. Ultimately, the NFL it’s competition-driven, a meritocracy where you compete for your own rewards. To the victor goes the spoils.
But to the players who must compete with teammates for those spoils, it’s a bittersweet finale. After the LA Rams compete against the Houston Texans, five more players will be released. The Rams will face an ever-increasing difficulty as the team’s roster gets leaner. Some will stay. Others will move on. But they have all shared time together. Hopefully, their paths will all lead them to a happy and successful NFL career.