Football is making its way back like the Backstreet Boys did with teams reporting to training camp this week, including the defending NFC-champion Los Angeles Rams.
The Rams are entering their third season with Sean McVay as their head coach and are ready to take another step forward in 2019. In just two seasons, McVay turned a 4-12 team from 2016 to a Super Bowl team in 2018.
Unfortunately for the franchise, Los Angeles fell short in Super Bowl 53, losing to the New England Patriots by the score of 13-3. The result didn’t go as expected, but McVay and company are focused on getting back to get another shot at the Lombardi trophy.
Another season means new players and faces who could earn roles in the upcoming season. Currently, teams have nearly 90 players on their roster that will eventually be cut down to just 53 by the regular season.
That’s where we come in and try to break down who could make the final cut for the Rams when training camp is all said and done. With that being said, here is a prediction of who will in fact make the Rams 53-man roster in 2019.
Jared Goff, Blake Bortles
Jared Goff is coming into his fourth season with the Rams and is ready to prove the doubters wrong in 2019. In the last two seasons, Goff has made vast improvements to his game and that should hold true once again in the upcoming season.
As for his backup, Blake Bortles is a new addition to the team and brings some experience to the position. Since Goff has been on the team, Sean Mannion has been his backup, but he will now have a guy who’s been to the AFC Championship game and nearly knocked off the Patriots.
Last season, McVay was comfortable keeping just two quarterbacks in Goff and Mannion. It’s hard to believe that he won’t trust Bortles to hold the backup job by himself—as he did with Mannion previously.
Running Back (4)
Todd Gurley, Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown, John Kelly
The story that never seems to end is the one pertaining to Todd Gurley’s knee. Nevertheless, Gurley will be the starter despite having a lighter workload moving forward.
Therefore, the Rams drafted Darrell Henderson and re-signed Malcolm Brown to help keep Gurley fresh. Henderson could become a valuable weapon to the offense once he gets comfortable.
Besides those three guys, Los Angeles will likely retain John Kelly on the roster to have four running backs in 2019. Other contenders for the final spot are Justin Davis and Matthew Colburn.
Wide Receiver (6)
Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, JoJo Natson, KhaDarel Hodge
The Rams boast one of the best receiving corps in the NFL ,which is unfathomable to think when you realize where the Rams were just five years ago. Now, they have arguably the best trio with Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp.
Kupp is returning from a torn ACL this season and Josh Reynolds could receive more snaps with how well he performed in 2018 filling in for Kupp. Mike Thomas is on the bubble of making the roster, but the Rams are becoming crowded at the position.
As for JoJo Natson, he carved himself a role as a kick returner, and KhaDarel Hodge will provide depth at the position.
Tight End (3)
Gerald Everett, Tyler Higbee, Johnny Mundt
When Kupp went down with his injury, the Rams began to run more two tight-end sets in the offense. Both Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee flashed potential as pass-catchers moving forward.
Los Angeles is likely to give the nod to Everett as the starter as McVay sees him as the best fit in his offensive scheme. Johnny Mundt provides the Rams with depth if they trade Higbee or one of the top two guys suffers an injury.
Offensive Line (9)
Andrew Whitworth, Bobby Evans, Rob Havenstein, David Edwards, Joseph Noteboom, Aaron Neary, Austin Blythe, Jamil Demby, Brian Allen
At the tackle position, the Rams will get Andrew Whitworth for another season with Rob Havenstein improving at right tackle. Then, Los Angeles drafted Bobby Evans and David Edwards in this year’s draft to develop for the future.
The Rams’ biggest loss this offseason was Rodger Saffold at right guard. To replace him, Joe Noteboom will make the move to left guard while Austin Blythe will look to improve upon an impressive first season at right guard for the Rams.
Besides Saffold, the Rams also lost John Sullivan, who the team released this offseason. That shows the amount of trust that McVay and the coaching staff have with Brian Allen in his second season in the NFL to solidify the center spot.
Defensive Line (6)
Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, John Franklin-Myers, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Greg Gaines, Tanzel Smart
Of course, the Rams have the best defensive player in the NFL in Aaron Donald. On the opposite side, Michael Brockers holds his own as a run defender.
Along with those guys, John Franklin-Myers and Sebastian Joseph-Day figure to rotate in the defense wherever they are needed. In 2018, the Rams signed Ndamukong Suh to play alongside Donald at nose tackle.
The experiment of Suh at nose tackle failed with the run defense suffering until the postseason. Therefore, drafting Greg Gaines to compete with Tanzel Smart for the nose tackle position could help improve the Rams’ run defense in 2019.
Outside/Inside Linebackers (9)
Dante Fowler, Clay Matthews, Samson Ebukam, Obo Okoronkwo, Trevon Young, Cory Littleton, Micah Kiser, Bryce Hager, Dakota Allen
The one area on the Rams that needs to improve in 2019 is the pressure that comes from the edge. In 2018, the Rams only got six sacks from their outside linebackers.
As a result, the Rams signed Clay Matthews to pair him with Dante Fowler and Samson Ebukam. Other guys who could become involved if they remain healthy are Obo Okoronkwo and Trevon Young. After all, the Rams will need all the help they can get to provide pressure off the edge.
Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Troy Hill, David Long, Dominique Hatfield
The Rams come into 2019 with both Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib starting at cornerback again. Furthermore, Nickell Robey-Coleman will assume his role as the nickel cornerback and Troy Hill will be behind him.
In this year’s draft, Los Angeles selected David Long to end up being a possible replacement for either Peters or Talib (both of them are free agents after 2019). Dominique Hatfield will round out the cornerback group to provide depth in the secondary.
Eric Weddle, John Johnson, Taylor Rapp, Marqui Christian, Nick Scott
One of the Rams’ losses this offseason was Lamarcus Joyner, but Los Angeles quickly replaced him by signing veteran Eric Weddle.
Weddle and John Johnson should be one of the best safety duos in the NFL. Along with those two guys, Taylor Rapp will likely have a role in the defense as a versatile defender who can line up everywhere.
Marqui Christian will return again with the Rams in 2019 and Nick Scott will be a phenomenal special teams player for Los Angeles.
Special Teams (3)
Greg Zuerlein, Johnny Hekker, Jake McQuaide
The nucleus of the Rams’ special teams unit has been the same for the past few seasons now. Greg Zuerlein and Johnny Hekker will be doing the kicking while Jake McQuaide will be snapping like his life depends on it.
The trio of Zuerlein, Hekker, and McQuaide will round out the Rams’ roster in hopes to make another Super Bowl run in 2019.