St. Louis Rams 2013 Team Roster: Report Card Grades for Every Position
Opening day is only one week away and NFL teams are trimming rosters to meet the 53-player requirement.
The St. Louis Rams, like every NFL team, have dealt with difficult personnel decisions this preseason, but in the end, they'll stick with the best 53 players and attempt to field the most competitive squad possible.
Some positions are loaded with talent, making the choices very difficult, while other positions are paper thin and easy to predict.
This piece will cover each position and give an appropriate letter grade. The grades will be determined by overall talent, depth and potential.
Read through my explanations and use the comment section to assign your own grades to the final roster.
Depth: Sam Bradford (Starter), Kellen Clemens
Sam Bradford is an up-and-coming quarterback who will have a career year in 2013. He's not mentioned in the same breath as elite pocket passers, but he's reliable and will help the Rams win games.
Kellen Clemens has greatly struggled throughout his career and was a mess this preseason. Surely, the Rams will be looking for another backup on the waiver wire.
If the Rams had a somewhat exciting backup, this grade would be higher, but backup quarterback is a major concern.
Running Back: D
Depth: Daryl Richardson (Starter), Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy, Benny Cunningham, Chase Reynolds
Daryl Richardson has incredible speed and great vision. He has solid hands and can break away for a big play at any moment, but his pass protection leaves a lot to be desired.
Isaiah Pead has issues hanging on to the ball and has poor vision, but he surpasses the other backs in pass protection.
Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham are both intriguing rookie talents, but they have a lot to prove before Rams fans can fully depend on them.
Wide Receiver: B
Depth: Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, Austin Pettis, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey
Chris Givens is a dangerous deep-ball weapon and has greatly improved his intermediate route-running. If he continues on his current path, he'll be considered the best receiver to wear a Rams uniform since Torry Holt.
Tavon Austin is electric out of the slot and can take it to the house at any time. He will not only successfully replace Danny Amendola, but he'll surpass him in nearly every aspect as a player.
Austin Pettis and Brian Quick are big receivers and frightening red-zone targets, while Stedman Bailey is a hard worker with solid hands and promising route-running skills.
Tight End: A
Depth: Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, Cory Harkey, Mike McNeill
Jared Cook is a big, physical target and a mismatch nightmare. As a receiver, he's the most talented tight end in St. Louis Rams history.
Lance Kendricks was the second-most productive tight end in the NFC West last season behind only San Francisco's Vernon Davis. The presence of Cook will lower his total number of targets, but Kendricks still has incredible value as a run-blocker.
Cory Harkey is a a decent receiver and is more than capable of filling in if an injury occurs.
Offense Line: B-
Depth: Jake Long (Left Tackle), Chris Williams (Left Guard), Scott Wells (Center), Harvey Dahl (Right Guard), Rodger Saffold (Right Tackle), Joe Barksdale, Shelley Smith, Tim Barnes, Barrett Jones, Brandon Washington
Jake Long will lock down the blind side and keep Bradford upright for the majority of the season, while Harvey Dahl is an intense player who provides attitude up front.
Scott Wells is declining at the age of 32, but the former Pro Bowler can hold his own. Rodger Saffold struggles to stay healthy, but he's very effective when on the field.
The starting line is very talented, but the group has a well-documented history of injuries. If health is not an issue, the offensive line will excel.
Defensive End: A+
Depth: Chris Long (Left End), Robert Quinn (Right End), William Hayes, Eugene Sims, Gerald Rivers
Chris Long and Robert Quinn are both Pro Bowl talents and will reach double-digit sack totals in 2013, while William Hayes also has a nose for the quarterback and can jump in at any time.
Eugene Sims and Gerald Rivers will play a handful of snaps each game and produce on special teams.
When it comes to 4-3 defensive ends, it doesn't get much better than Long and Quinn.
Defensive Tackle: A-
Depth: Michael Brockers (Starter), Kendall Langford (Starter), Matt Conrath, Jermelle Cudjo
Brockers is a rising star and a dark horse candidate for the Pro Bowl, while veteran Langford is a reliable starter up front.
Backups Matt Conrath and Jermelle Cudjo have struggled to stay healthy, which lowers the overall grade.
Depth: James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Will Witherspoon, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Daren Bates, Jonathan Stewart
The St. Louis linebackers are frequently overshadowed by the Rams' top-notch defensive line, but the team is entering the 2013 season with a phenomenal group of linebackers.
James Laurinaitis is a veteran leader and the quarterback of the defense. Jo-Lonn Dunbar provides the attitude and grit, while rookie Alec Ogletree is a playmaker with exceptional mobility.
The starters are rock solid, but it gets even better...
Will Witherspoon is a 33-year-old veteran who can jump in at any position, while Ray-Ray Armstrong is an up-and-coming rookie with unbelievable potential.
Not only are the starters solid, but they have backups who can sub in at any time and play at a high level.
Depth: Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Brandon McGee
With a former Pro Bowler in Cortland Finnegan and an ascending talent in Janoris Jenkins as their starters, the Rams have one of the better corner duos in the NFL.
Trumaine Johnson and Brandon McGee are young, mid-round draft picks with potential. If they had more experience, the grade for this position would be higher.
The Rams are set at cornerback, but an injury to a starter would be a difficult thing for the defense to overcome.
Depth: T.J. McDonald (Starter), Rodney McLeod (Starter), Darian Stewart, Matt Daniels
Youngsters T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod have talent, but with zero combined career starts, the Rams' starting safety duo has a lot to prove.
Backups Darian Stewart and Matt Daniels struggled to stay healthy in 2012, and both players are also lacking experience. Stewart is the only safety on the roster with a single NFL start on his resume—he has 13 starts in three NFL seasons.
The safety position could be a problem for St. Louis moving forward.
Special Teams: A-
Depth: Greg Zuerlein (Kicker), Johnny Hekker (Punter), Jake McQuaide (Long Snapper)
Placekicker Greg Zuerlein has the strongest leg in the NFL, but his accuracy can be questionable. Johnny Hekker is an accurate punter and has a decent throwing arm, making him valuable on trick plays.
Throw in a dynamite punt returner in Austin, and the Rams' special teams unit can really change the outcome of a game. If they had a decent kick returner, this grade would be an A+.
Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams game day correspondent. You can find more work by Gerwel by visiting his writer's profile or by following him on Twitter.