In a year of uncertainty, a few things surprisingly remain constant for the 2020 Rams. Despite moving a portion of Jared Goff‘s salary into future years and getting a $5.5 million relief on the Todd Gurley contract, the team is still very tight up against the salary cap and will need un-drafted rookies to step up. Coming in at 28th in the league in available space one would assume that is because a few veterans are taking up most of the space and you would be right. Jared Goff and Aaron Donald are accounting for roughly 22 percent of the cap by themselves.
Having a team like this means most of the veterans on the team will probably make it to week one. The small amount of money that the Rams have to go after free agents won’t be enough to lure even veterans who have been cut in camp. Also, the small amount of off-season work and decreased roster sizes due to the pandemic is severely limiting non-roster players’ chances to make the team. This seems like a recipe for disaster for un-drafted players, but that may not necessarily be the case. The Rams have three new coordinators who are not attached to anyone. The veterans may come in with the upper hand but do not expect the coaches on this team to give them any sort of a free pass to a roster spot.
Who will make the team
Earnest Edwards | WR/KR | Maine
The Rams will be looking to get more out of the return game in 2020. After Blake Countess did a good job in 2018, JoJo Natson took over kickoff duties in 2019 and couldn’t quite live up to his abilities as a punt return man. With Natson now in Cleveland, the Rams will look to replace him at both positions. That starts with Earnest Edwards. In 2019, the Maine product was able to lead all of the FCS with 28.5 yards per kickoff return.
Photo Credit: UMaine Athletics
If Edwards can bring some of the same juice that led him to being named an FCS all-american as a receiver and returner, he will have a good chance at winning this job. The Rams also have second year un-drafted guys Nsimba Webster and Greg Dortch waiting in the wings, meaning Edwards won’t just be battling against other rookies for this spot. The prediction here is that Edwards will most likely make the main roster but could possibly be a weekly inactive.
Xavier Jones | RB | SMU
Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson still loom as the backups to Cam Akers in 2020, however Brown maybe have a little trepidation about his spot. In 2019 Xavier Jones lit up the AAC for over 1,300 total yards and 23 touchdowns. If he can display that nose for the end zone come camp-time, he can easily find some playing time. Keep in mind, releasing Brown would save the Rams money. Jones will be playing on an un-drafted rookie minimum contract. If it comes down to money, this one will go to Jones.
Photo credit: SMU Athletics
Working against Jones is the fact that he only caught 20 passes in 2019. Is this because he doesn’t have the requisite “hands” to play the position? Or rather just an offense that failed to utilize him in that way? Training camp will provide a small amount of time for him to prove that it was the latter, but his ability as a 5-10, 210-lb runner with red-zone chops will stand out in the end. The prediction here is that Jones beats out Brown and Henderson–who is recovering from off-season ankle surgery– for a spot on the active game-day roster.
Bryan London II | LB | Texas State
Inside linebacker is possibly the weakest position on the Rams. Micah Kiser is a third year player coming off a major pectoral injury. He has also never played a down in the league. Seventh-round rookie Clay Johnston is coming off of a major injury of his own–torn ACL. Incumbents Kenny Young, Travin Howard and Troy Reeder have not proven to be capable NFL starters. That leaves a huge door open for an un-drafted rookie like London II.
Photo Credit: txstatebobcats.com
First, London II will have to prove he can handle the jump from Texas State to the NFL. However if he show that he can hang physically, he has the skills to stay around for a long time. He flashes on tape both in coverage and against the run. As a former basketball player, he has all the requisite athleticism that you look for at the position as well. The prediction here is that London II makes the team, at least initially, as the Rams wait for Johnston to become fully healthy.
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