Which players are guaranteed and what are the important position battles left at the moment?
How do you cut down a roster from 80 names to 53? Well, this morning I attempted to do that by first starting with the players who are on the roster that we know are going to still be there in Week 1. Then I went with the players who we believe will be there; but I ask you to not over-analyze those two lists and wonder “Well, why isn’t the guy on the believe list on the know list?!”
Because I had to make some decisions.
And my decisions will not line up with the decisions of every single reader because that would be impossible. But overall, I was being OVERLY cautious with the names who we “believe” will make it; the entire point is that I believe all 41 of those names are going to be on the LA Rams final roster, but mostly the names on the second list remind me of past examples of surprise cuts or transactions.
I also believe that some players who aren’t among those 41 names are also all-but-guaranteed to make the final roster, but again, I wanted to be too careful.
This is how I ended up getting from 80 names down to 53.
We know it (23)
Matthew Stafford, Darrell Henderson, Sony Michel, Tyler Higbee, Andrew Whitworth, David Edwards, Austin Corbett, Rob Havenstein, Joseph Noteboom, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Leonard Floyd, Kenny Young, Darious Williams, Jalen Ramsey, Jordan Fuller, Tutu Atwell, Ernest Jones, Justin Hollins, Troy Reeder, Johnny Mundt
We believe it (18)
Brian Allen, Van Jefferson, Xavier Jones, John Wolford, DeSean Jackson, A’Shawn Robinson, Matt Gay, Matt Orzech, Taylor Rapp, Greg Gaines, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Justin Lawler, Bobby Brown III, David Long, Jake Funk, Terrell Burgess, Robert Rochell, Jacob Harris
Offensive Line depth (3)
Coleman Shelton, Bobby Evans, Tremayne Anchrum
Punter competition (1)
Johnny Hekker OR Corey Bojorquez
At this point, I have eight roster spots remaining and I’m sure there are a few names left that you’re screaming to keep. But you could be screaming different names. What are LA’s needs remaining?
TE3 competition (1)
Brycen Hopkins OR Kendall Blanton
Seven spots remaining, and I could probably keep at least two more linebackers for the Rams. LA has essentially set its starting four, with Young and Reeder apparently set to start inside, leaving some doubts about the futures of Micah Kiser and Travin Howard after they started the most recent preseason game. Let’s see what happens if we make it about competition right now.
Veteran linebacker competition (1)
Micah Kiser OR Travin Howard
Young linebacker competition (1)
Terrell Lewis OR Chris Garrett
That leaves five more roster spots. I might want to identity one safety and one cornerback.
Safety/Special teams competition (1)
Veteran Nick Scott or upstart J.R. Reed
Cornerback depth/Special teams competition (1)
Veteran Dont’e Deayon OR upstart Kareem Orr
That’s three more roster spots remaining. Who are my “best available” without a roster spot yet? QB Bryce Perkins, DL Earnest Brown IV, WR J.J. Koski, OL Chandler Brewer, OL Jeremiah Kolone, WR Trishton Jackson, DL Eric Banks, DL Marquise Copeland, S Juju Hughes, CB Brontae Harris, PLUS whoever did not make it out of the competitions at vet linebacker, young linebacker, safety, cornerback, and tight end.
We see how difficult these cuts are going to be now?
For the purposes of making my choices here, I’ll select Hekker, Hopkins, Howard, Lewis, Scott, and Deayon as the winners of those six competitions. Now it’s more of a matter of just making sure that the Rams are protecting their best projects, while not feeling too light at any need, which oftentimes could mean that you’re overlooking special teams.
I’m going to protect/keep Chris Garrett, leaving two roster spots.
I’m going to protect/keep J.R. Reed, leaving one roster spot.
And every single year teams end up protecting players so well that when final 53-man rosters are set, at least one name that we didn’t talk about all month long ends up being “Oh the Rams are suuuuuper high on this guy” when the announcements are made. I’m going to protect Mr. Lawncare himself, Eric Banks for the final spot. Banks was one of those surprises a year ago and the former high school quarterback is someone who has stuck with me ever since.
It could be someone else for you. It could definitely be someone else for Sean McVay.