St. Louis Rams: Immediate 53-Man Roster Cut Predictions Post Dolphins Game
The preseason is finally complete for the St. Louis Rams, and the regular season is just around the corner.
For you and me, the end of the preseason is a happy time, as it signals the start of real football. For NFL hopefuls who are the fence, however, it's a fearful time that could mean the end of a dream.
The Rams will trim the remaining excess from the roster in order to reach the 53-man limit, and not every move will be favorable.
This article will take what we saw this preseason and use that information to predict the official 2014 roster.
Garrett Gilbert (Practice Squad)
With Sam Bradford out, the Rams will depend on Shaun Hill to carry the team through the 2014 season, while young gunslinger Austin Davis will be the No. 2.
Regardless of St. Louis' desperate quarterback situation, there's no need to keep Garrett Gilbert on the roster, as he'll simply eat up roster space. Even if the Rams drop two more quarterbacks, Gilbert is not ready to play (they'd likely call in outside help in that scenario).
Hill is a serviceable quarterback and will fit in nicely as the starter. This isn't the New Orleans Saints or the Denver Broncos. Instead, the Rams better fit the 2006 Chicago Bears and 2000 Ravens models—neither depend on a top-notch quarterback.
As long as the Rams can run the ball and play defense, all Hill will have to do is manage games.
Running Back (4)
Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham will take the bulk of the carries, while the remaining backs will fight for the remaining reps.
Chase Reynolds is a valuable special teams asset, but Trey Watts has way more upside as an offensive asset and is simply the better player.
Now, the only question is who will win the No. 3 job. Tre Mason has more name recognition, but Trey Watts has taken advantage of his few opportunities.
Wide Receiver/Tight End (9)
Jared Cook (Tight End)
Lance Kendricks (Tight End)
Cory Harkey (Tight End)
Justice Cunningham (Tight End)
Stedman Bailey (Suspended)
Austin Franklin (Practice Squad)
Alex Bayer (Tight End, Practice Squad)
The wide receiver position is fairly predictable. The Rams will likely stick with the five receivers mentioned above, and Stedman Bailey will rejoin the group after serving his suspension.
At tight end, there's an interesting battle brewing between rookies Justice Cunningham and Alex Bayer. Cunningham is an excellent blocker but a sloppy receiver, while Bayer is the exact opposite.
In the end, the Rams already have three solid receiving tight ends on the roster, making Cunningham the more valuable addition. Expect the Rams to keep Bayer on the practice squad, but Cunningham's skills better suit St. Louis' run-first mentality.
Offensive Line (10)
Mitchell Van Dyk
The offensive line is basically set, and this scenario does not feature any major snubs.
Brandon Washington is a promising talent, but the Rams will likely be more comfortable with a veteran in Davin Joseph. It's possible Washington will make the team over Mike Person, but Person has the ability to play every position on the line, giving him a slight advantage.
Mitchell Van Dyk joined the team as a seventh-round rookie, so it was always an uphill battle for him. He's a candidate for the practice squad.
Defensive Line (10)
Of course, this is the position everyone will be watching due to Michael Sam. He and Ethan Westbrooks have been battling for the final spot on the defensive line, and both have contributed greatly this preseason.
As a result, the Rams will find a way to keep both. This team is fueled by defensive line play, so keeping an extra defensive lineman should take priority over any other position.
The linebacker position is pretty obvious and straightforward, unless you consider Etienne Sabino, one of St. Louis' few additions in free agency, a major snub.
James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree and Jo-Lonn Dunbar will start, while the other three will back them up and contribute on special teams.
Greg Reid (Practice Squad)
Greg Reid came in with a lot of talent and potential, but he never really established himself throughout the preseason and training camp. Expect the Rams to retain him on the practice squad, where he can be groomed and grow as a player.
Brandon McGee and Darren Woodward are two somewhat surprising cuts, but neither have the consistency or upside to warrant a roster spot.
Special Teams (3)
Greg Zuerlein (Kicker)
Johnny Hekker (Punter)
Jake McQuaide (Long Snapper)
The Rams will stick with the normal special teams trio, with no changes compared to 2013.
Greg Zuerlein and Johnny Hekker are two of the best in the business at their positions, and Jake McQuaide has been a valuable asset as a long snapper. This is an area of strength for St. Louis.