Looking at one of the deepest positional groups in the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams are going to have a good problem with roster cutdowns looming. Rostering a bevy of capable players, some are certain to be searching for their next opportunity elsewhere. This is a positive for receiver-needy teams looking to boost their wide receiver corps with a player capable of long-term development. Analyzing the Rams’ group, the players fall into two separate categories: roster locks and the potential backend guys.
The top four guys in Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Josh Reynolds are all surefire roster locks. Cooks operates as the defecto #1 receiver, though that’s probably just semantics as none of the top three separate themselves in terms of production. Cooks’ role encompasses the ability to stretch the field vertically, take the top off defenses, and create on intermediate routes when the threat of him going deep has caused defenses to sag. Woods is the do-it-all receiver as he has the capability to play all three spots and produce on all three levels of the field (short, intermediate, deep). His route running ability, ability to create yards after the catch, and pristine route running allow him to be a weapon everywhere on the field. The return of Kupp is a massive storyline for the Rams as a torn ACL seen him lost in week eight in 2018, though he looks primed to begin the season at 100%. Kupp operates out of the slot as a sure-handed route-running savant who’s proven to be quarterback Jared Goff’s safety blanket, while also maintaining the ability to create big chunk plays. Upon injury, Reynolds stepped in for Kupp and performed tremendously. Reynolds offers something the other three don’t, and that’s a lot of size at the position.
The fun at the receiver unit begins here as there are a handful of names jampacked and competing for the final roster spot(s). Kick and punt returner JoJo Natson likely maintains the inside track to a roster spot, though he wasn’t particularly dangerous at either in 2018, and doesn’t offer a ton as a receiver. KhaDarel Hodge spent time on the practice squad and active roster in 2018, and could very well find himself on the 53-man roster starting out 2019. Hodge continues to develop as a special teamer (gunner on the punt team) due to the backend of the roster being needed on special teams, though he’s also shown a lot of ability as a receiver in consecutive preseasons now. Veteran Mike Thomas seems to be a coaching staff favorite as he’s had the best training camp of the bunch, offers some special teams ability, and has translated a solid training camp onto the field in the preseason contests. The last of the bunch is undrafted free agent rookie Nsimba Webster. Webster has separated himself as a short-to-intermediate threat as a receiver and as a return man on special teams (while also playing gunner). Webster has the capability to do everything needed from a backend of the roster type of player, and is sure to stick on the practice squad if the Rams choose to go another direction with the 53-man active roster.
The backend of the roster has been highly competitive at the receiver spot, with certain names who weren’t mentioned also making plays (Jalen Greene). Looking at the four main players vying for the final spots, the abilities to offer special teams versatility and the potential development at the receiver position long-term is paramount. All four names fit the bill accurately, meaning the preseason week four game could go a long ways to deciding who might make the roster. As it currently stands, I personally believe Hodge offers the most endearing skillset with Webster following. Both are young guys who maintain untapped potential and the willingness to earn their spots as special teamers, making them two intriguing backend roster options.