Projecting Rams’ depth chart with initial 53-man roster set

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Now that final cuts have been made across the NFL, we’ve gained some clarity about the Los Angeles Rams’ initial 53-man roster. It will still be tweaked and changed before Week 1, but for now, we can gather what this team will look like when the season opens on Sept. 12.

The Rams haven’t released their unofficial depth chart for Week 1, and it’s not certain that they will, but we’ve gone ahead and projected who the starters will be, who will back them up, and which players will play reserve roles.

Quarterback

This order shouldn't change all season. Stafford is very clearly the starter, and Wolford is entrenched as the backup. Perkins won't push him for that role this year, and Sean McVay indicated that even keeping three quarterbacks on the roster is fluid, suggesting Perkins might not stick all season.

Running back

Starter

Backup

Reserve

RB

Darrell Henderson Jr.

Sony Michel

Jake Funk

While we don't truly know the order at the top with Henderson and Michel, Henderson should be the starter in Week 1. That could change as Michel gets up to speed and gains comfort in the Rams' offense, but for now, it's Henderson's job to lose. Funk should be active on game days, though there probably won't be many touches left for him.

Wide receiver

Starter

Backup

WR1

Robert Woods

Ben Skowronek

WR2

Van Jefferson

DeSean Jackson

Slot

Cooper Kupp

Tutu Atwell

We know Woods and Kupp will be the starters in the Rams' base defense and should get the most snaps. But Jefferson has a chance to hold off Jackson for snaps in 11 personnel. He's a more well-rounded receiver and it's become evident that the Rams want to manage Jackson's workload in order to keep him fresh or healthy. Both will play, but don't be surprised if Jefferson gets more snaps.

Tight end

Nothing to see here. Higbee and Mundt will be the top two tight ends, with Higbee handling the bulk of the snaps at the position. Hopkins and Harris won't play much, at least not in the beginning. McVay said Harris' role is primarily on special teams right now and Hopkins has done very little to earn reps with the starting offense.

Offensive line

Starter

Backup

Reserve

LT

Andrew Whitworth

Joe Noteboom

A.J. Jackson

LG

David Edwards

Joe Noteboom

C

Brian Allen

Coleman Shelton

RG

Austin Corbett

Bobby Evans

RT

Rob Havenstein

Tremayne Anchrum

The starters are set now that Allen and Corbett have settled in at center and right guard. The backups are more difficult to project because there's so much versatility and position flexibility. Evans can play guard and tackle, as can Anchrum. Noteboom is the swing tackle, per McVay, so he might be the primary backup on the right side, too. Jackson only played left tackle in the preseason, so he'll probably stick there. We'll get more clarity on the pecking order during practices when veterans get days off and we see the second-team offensive line operating.

Defensive line

Starter

Backup

Reserve

DT

Aaron Donald

Jonah Williams

NT

Sebastian Joseph-Day

Greg Gaines

Bobby Brown III

DE

A'Shawn Robinson

Michael Hoecht

This is a versatile group, too. Donald, Joseph-Day and Robinson can all play multiple positions, giving opposing offensive lines different looks from snap to snap. Gaines is exclusively a nose tackle, while Williams, Hoecht and Brown can move around depending on which other starters are on the field.

Inside linebackers

Starter

Backup

ILB1

Kenny Young

Travin Howard

ILB2

Troy Reeder

Ernest Jones

Young and Reeder both sat out the preseason, which was a clear indication that they were locked in as the starters. When the Rams go to their nickel and dime packages with only one inside linebacker on the field, it's likely Young will stay out there. Howard and Jones probably won't play a ton, but they're good players to have in case of injury – especially at a physically demanding position.

Outside linebackers

Starter

Backup

Reserve

LOLB

Leonard Floyd

Terrell Lewis

ROLB

Justin Hollins

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

Chris Garrett

This group could clearly use some depth. Okoronkwo is likely going on short-term IR, which could open the door for the Rams to bring back Justin Lawler if he clears waivers. Floyd and Hollins will start on the edges, with Lewis rotating in as a situational rusher, particularly on third downs. Floyd will rarely come off the field, though.

Cornerback

Starter

Backup

CB1

Jalen Ramsey

Robert Rochell

CB2

Darious Williams

Nickel

David Long Jr.

Terrell Burgess

Ramsey and Williams will start on the outside in the Rams' base defense, with Long coming onto the field in nickel packages. He earned that job in camp, beating out the Rams' other cornerbacks such as Dont'e Deayon and Kareem Orr. Burgess can cover the slot, too, and is expected to get opportunities there. Rochell probably won't get many chances to play but he has a high ceiling.

Safety

Starter

Backup

Reserve

FS

Jordan Fuller

Terrell Burgess

J.R. Reed

SS

Taylor Rapp

Nick Scott

JuJu Hughes

Talk about a well-rounded a versatile group. The Rams' safeties are almost all interchangeable, so their free and strong designations don't matter much. I expect Rapp to start next to Fuller after he had a difficult 2020 season, with Burgess coming in as the third safety. Reed and Hughes will have to earn playing time and may not even be active on game days, but the Rams couldn't risk cutting them and having them get claimed.

Special teams

Starter

Backup

K

Matt Gay

P

Johnny Hekker

LS

Matthew Orzech

KR

Jake Funk

Tutu Atwell

PR

Tutu Atwell

The kicking and punting operations are set in stone. But the returner roles are still very much up in the air. Without Raymond Calais, the Rams don't have a clear kick returner. That role could fall to Funk, or possibly a player the team claims off waivers. Atwell should handle the punt return job, which is a way for McVay to get him on the field, given the way he's buried on the depth chart at wide receiver.

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