Predicting the Last 5 In, First 5 Out for St. Louis Rams' Final 53-Man Roster
The St. Louis Rams are an improved team and were able to add a considerable amount of offseason talent, so the final cuts will certainly be harder to stomach in 2014 than in previous years.
Richardson was the first, but there'll inevitably be more talented team members ushered to the guillotine. And while it's tough watching talented players walk out the door, it certainly says a lot about the team's overall level of talent when it's forced to part with good football players.
This article will highlight 10 players who are standing right on the fence and will predict which five make the team and which five fall short.
Out: Brandon McGee, CB
Brandon McGee—a fifth-round draft pick from last year—spent the majority of the 2013 campaign watching from the sidelines. The few times he saw action on defense, it was far from pretty.
Of course, it's perfectly possible that McGee will take a giant step forward and become one of the surprise players of training camp. You can never predict these things. That said...don't count on it.
Unlike last year, the Rams have decent competition at backup cornerback (E.J. Gaines, Greg Reid), so McGee won't be able to cruise onto the roster as he did a year ago.
McGee is the forgotten man in the secondary, but he's been forgotten for a reason. When it comes to his future with the team, there's not a lot to be excited about.
In: Marcus Roberson, CB
Marcus Roberson went undrafted during the 2014 draft thanks to injuries and off-the-field concerns, but the overlooked cornerback possesses the raw talent of a Day 2 pick.
With Gaines, Reid and McGee competing for roster spots, nothing will be handed to Roberson. However, when it's all said and done, I feel his talent will be too intriguing to just toss away for nothing.
Expect Roberson to make the team, and don't be surprised if he's the team's top undrafted rookie—the Ray-Ray Armstrong of 2014.
Out: Austin Davis, QB
Austin Davis' failure to win the No. 2 job last season, combined with the drafting of Garrett Gilbert in the sixth round of the draft, pretty much spells the end for Davis' career in St. Louis.
Davis showed some preseason potential during his rookie year in 2012, but he has since failed to take the next step.
With Shaun Hill locking down the No. 2 job, Davis will compete for the No. 3 job, which will surely be an uphill battle.
In: Garrett Gilbert, QB
It took Garrett Gilbert five collegiate seasons to finally start producing. He's a late bloomer, and the St. Louis coaching staff knew that when it drafted him.
Even if Gilbert is incapable of immediately outplaying Davis in training camp, it's possible that the coaching staff will still opt for Gilbert based on his more alluring upside. At 6'4" and 221 pounds, Gilbert has the body and arm of a true NFL pocket passer, so he may be worth hanging on to.
The battle for the No. 3 quarterback job will be interesting to follow, but expect Gilbert to come out on top.
One thing we've learned about the current regime over the last two drafts is that it fully expects mid- to late-round selections to contribute. So if the team had faith in Davis, it would have gone another route in Round 6 of the draft.
Out: Matt Daniels, S
For several years now, safety Matt Daniels has been talked up as a potential diamond in the rough, but injuries and inconsistent play have prevented him from breaking out.
The Rams added Mo Alexander in the fourth round of the draft, so the team has certainly added help at safety. This makes Daniels a bit more expendable.
Daniels is a solid special teams asset, but the Rams won't tolerate an injury-prone safety when there are other more attractive options on the roster such as Alexander and Cody Davis, who are both presumably capable of staying healthy.
In: Austin Pettis, WR
Austin Pettis has been very quiet since being selected in the third round in 2011, but he has managed to make the roster for three consecutive years despite underwhelming production.
Whether fans like it or not, it looks like Pettis has a real shot at making the roster yet again, at least for the beginning of the season.
If Brian Quick and Kenny Britt impress in camp and ultimately make the roster, the Rams have no reason to retain Pettis, as both players possess similar skill sets to him.
However, with Stedman Bailey facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, it's likely Pettis will be the fill-in for Bailey during the first quarter of the season.
It's hard to say whether or not Pettis is capable of maintaining a roster spot for 16 games, but he should be safe for at least the first quarter of the season.
Out: Mitchell Van Dyk, T
Mitchell Van Dyk is St. Louis' rookie seventh-round offensive tackle out of Portland State, but he has a tough hill to climb before cracking the final roster.
Van Dyk will have to unseat players with much more experience, such as tackles Sean Hooey and Mike Person, before he has a shot at making the team. That's a lot easier said than done.
Expect Van Dyk to fight for a spot on the practice squad, but as of now, making the final roster seems a bit unrealistic.
In: Cody Davis, S
Alexander and second-year pro T.J. McDonald will likely hold down the starting safety gigs, while 2013 starter Rodney McLeod will be the No. 3 backup safety.
As for the team's fourth safety, it's hard to tell. It's possible the Rams will rely on cornerbacks Gaines and Lamarcus Joyner to handle the additional safety depth, but don't be surprised if the team retains one more true safety.
If that happens, look no further than Cody Davis. He has the measurables, the special teams production and the work ethic. Also, unlike Daniels, he doesn't have an extensive injury history.
Expect Davis to secure the No. 4 safety job. His duties will primarily be limited to special teams, but he should make the team nonetheless.
Out: Chase Reynolds, RB
Chase Reynolds has been able to survive in the NFL as a practice-squad project as well as a special teams guru, but his time as a pro is surely nearing an end.
He's a great special teams asset, but at some point, he needs to show at least some potential on offense before the Rams can justify handing him a roster spot.
Reynolds is pretty much limited only to special teams, which makes him a dangerous option as the team's No. 4 running back.
In: Isaiah Pead, RB
Whether you choose Isaiah Pead or Reynolds for St. Louis' No. 4 running back job is simply a matter of personal preference, and my preference is leaning toward Pead at the moment.
Like the majority of Rams fans, I've been beyond frustrated with Pead's embarrassing lack of production and poor attitude on and off the field. However, he did establish himself as a competent special teams asset last season, so that's a start.
The major difference between Pead and Reynolds is that Pead actually has a slither of potential as an offense weapon. That, in my opinion, puts him ahead of Reynolds when the Rams make final cuts.
Of course, things could quickly change if we see typical Pead-like production during the preseason.