Predicting St. Louis Rams' Depth Chart, Post OTAs
The St. Louis Rams will be wrapping up their organized team activities (OTAs) on Friday, June 14, which means players are ready to enter the final break of the offseason before strapping on the pads for training camp.
Some of the more celebrated names on the St. Louis roster have the luxury of relaxing during this last bit of free time. For the less established names on the roster, they'll be forced to spend the next month and a half in the gym or on the practice field in order to gain an edge on the competition.
And make no mistake, the training camp competition will be fierce, to say the least.
As far as the depth chart, it's guaranteed that a lot will change between now and Week 1. The names will be shuffled around more than a Vegas blackjack deck, so it's impossible to fully predict the 2013 roster.
As of now, here's an estimate of the the current depth chart based on last year's roster, combined with the new additions.
For inexperienced camp bodies and long shot undrafted rookies, there's not exactly a fountain of information on these players floating around, so their spots on the depth chart will be based on the few facts we do have (years of pro experience, measurables, name recognition and college attended).
Sam Bradford is locked in as the starter and is expected to thrive in his fourth NFL season, but the quarterback position will still feature hot competition for the No. 2 job.
Kellen Clemens has plenty of experience as a backup but has basically peaked as a player. Second-year pro Austin Davis was exciting to watch in the 2012 preseason and offers more upside than Clemens, so expect Davis to win the backup job.
Tim Jenkins is merely an extra camp arm, but he still has a shot at earning a job if either Clemens or Davis completely bombs in training camp.
Daryl Richardson has the most NFL playing experience among the current Rams backs, so at this point we have to assume that he's penciled in as the starter.
Isaiah Pead is a real threat for the top job, but his upcoming one-game suspension could hurt his chances.
Rookie fifth-round pick Zac Stacy is the most well-rounded back on the roster and will see plenty of carries in the preseason, but he has to overcome his inexperience before he's trusted with major playing time.
Terrance Ganaway is a big-time runner at 240 pounds and is a great option for short-yardage situations, but the one-dimensional Ganaway could ultimately lose his spot to a special teams guru such as Chase Reynolds.
The rest of the depth will be competing either for special teams gigs or a spot on the practice squad.
Chris Givens will lead the way at wide receiver—he was one of the offense's top playmakers as a rookie and has more NFL starts than the rest of the St. Louis receivers combined (even though he's just a second-year player).
Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey lack experience, but both are dynamic talents and will provide a significant boost for the offense.
Austin Pettis and Brian Quick are young veterans who have failed to impress early in their careers, but both have intriguing size and possess ideal skill sets, meaning either player could burst onto the scene at any time.
In recent years, undrafted walk-on receivers had a real shot at making a weak Rams roster (see Dominique Curry and Danario Alexander), but the team has upped their level of talent, making it harder for the irrelevants to earn a job, so the remaining depth will compete for practice-squad spots or possibly special teams jobs.
Jared Cook has been generating nothing but rave reviews out of Rams Park, so the high-priced free agent is cemented as the top tight end on the roster.
Lance Kendricks is currently out of action with a knee injury, according to NBC Sports, which provides Mike McNeill and Cory Harkey with a golden opportunity to steal some first-team reps and impress the coaching staff.
Kendricks will reclaim his No. 2 spot on the depth chart as soon as he returns, but the remaining tight ends will compete for jobs as situational run blockers or specials teams gurus.
Jake Long (left side)
Rodger Saffold (right side)
Jake Long was a blockbuster free-agency pickup and will lock down the left tackle position (he's still an elite blindside tackle when healthy), while Rodger Saffold is talented enough to perform well on the right side, even though it's a new position for him.
Both starters have suffered from injuries over the past two seasons, which makes Joe Barksdale an important piece to the puzzle. Like Wayne Hunter last season, Barksdale will likely back up both Long and Saffold as the No. 3 swing tackle.
Ty Nsekhe is raw but is a beast of a man at 6'8" and 325 pounds. He has a shot at making the final roster, especially if the Rams suffer an injury during camp.
The 6'10", 403-pound Thomas Brown is a monster and is receiving a lot of attention due to being the biggest player on the roster, but the undrafted rookie is learning a new position and will struggle to make the final 53-man roster, though the practice squad is a viable option for him.
Scott Wells (center)
Chris Williams (left guard)
Harvey Dahl (right guard)
Scott Wells and Harvey Dahl are locked in as starters for a second consecutive year, while Chris Williams is apparently winning the battle for left guard, according to a photo from the Rams official website that shows him grouped with the first-team offensive line.
Shelley Smith and Rokevious Watkins will make a strong push for the left guard job at camp, though Watkins is facing a one-game suspension that could ultimately hinder his efforts.
Rookie Barrett Jones can play virtually every position on the line, but he needs to focus the majority of his attention at center, as an eventual injury to Wells is highly likely given that he missed nine games in 2012.
Brandon Washington could make the roster as a backup guard, but Tim Barnes is likely toast with Jones taking over as the No. 2 center.
Chris Long (left end)
Robert Quinn (right end)
Starters Chris Long and Robert Quinn combined for 22 sacks in 2012, while No. 3 man William Hayes added seven more as a rotational player.
Eugene Sims had three sacks as the No. 4 end and has been a solid depth player in his three seasons with the Rams.
The top four ends are rock solid, making it nearly impossible for a low-end player to crack the roster unless there's an injury.
The Rams may end up keeping a fifth end for special teams purposes, but that's as far as they'll go.
Michael Brockers was very impressive as a rookie and will be a key part of the defense in 2013, while Kendall Langford is a solid starter and should improve in his second year with the Rams.
Matthew Conrath and Jermelle Cudjo are solid depth players, but both have struggled with injuries in the past, which gives Garrett Goebel and Al Lapuaho some hope.
It's unlikely that any of the top four will be unseated, but another injury to either Cudjo or Conrath could frustrate the coaching staff and force them to give one of the newcomers a shot.
James Laurinaitis (middle)
Jo-Lonn Dunbar (weak side)
Alec Ogletree (strong side)
Ray Ray Armstrong
The Rams will be awfully crowded at the linebacker position during training camp, but with the three starters locked in, the only competition will be for backup jobs.
Josh Hull is likely safe as he's the backup middle linebacker behind James Laurinaitis, but the remaining roster spots are completely up for grabs.
Jabara Williams and Sammy Brown have experience in the league, giving them a slight edge, but neither are talented nor productive enough to be guaranteed a roster spot.
Ray Ray Armstrong is converting to linebacker from safety, which puts him at a disadvantage, but he's likely more physically gifted that any of the backup linebackers on the roster, so he could win a job based on his potential alone.
Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins formulate one of the more dangerous cornerback tandems in the entire NFL, while Trumaine Johnson made significant strides as a rookie in 2012 and is a promising No. 3.
The Rams selected Miami cornerback Brandon McGee in the fifth round of the draft, and his potential ensures that he'll win a roster spot as depth.
Quinton Pointer appeared in six games as a rookie in 2012, and though he was primarily featured on special teams, his experience gives him an edge over the youngsters.
The Rams will possibly keep a sixth corner for special teams, especially if the No. 6 safety can play safety as well, as the team is thin up top.
Darian Stewart and Rodney McLeod will likely enter training camp as the starting safeties, as they're the only players at the position with NFL experience, but 2013 third-round pick T.J. McDonald is expected to eventually win a starting job before Week 1.
It's also possible that the team will look to retain veteran free agent Quintin Mikell, who was a valuable member of the defense in 2012.
If the team passes on a Mikell reunion, it's likely a sign that the youngsters have been exceeding expectations in practice.
The team will likely keep four safeties, so it's hard to determine who's the odd man out. Between Cody Davis and Matt Daniels, it should be a fierce fight that comes down to the wire.
Greg Zuerlein (kicker)
Johnny Hekker (punter)
Jake McQuaide (long snapper)
Brett Baker (backup kicker)
Jorgen Hus (backup long snapper)
Greg Zuerlein is locked in as the kicker after an impressive rookie year, and Johnny Hekker has apparently won the starting punter gig, as there's no competition currently listed on the roster.
Long snapper Jake McQuaide is the only specialist in danger of losing a job, but since McQuaide performed up to par in 2012, it's unlikely he'll be unseated, unless he completely chokes in camp.