The Los Angeles Rams got down to 53 players, as expected, with few surprises past early announcements about Jacob Harris and Chris Garrett.
The Rams now move forward with these 53 players, but we know more changes are coming and Sean McVay constantly stresses that football teams are really more about the active game day rosters and then everyone else, including the practice squad, are basically all in the same boat.
Who were the biggest winners and losers from Tuesday’s deadline?
Winner – WR Lance McCutcheon
When has McCutcheon not been a winner during training camp and preseason? Never. McCutcheon delivers more than just “preseason statz”. He was legitimately the best player on the field when he was on the field and even if that’s going up against backups…that’s exactly the point. If he’s that much better than backups, the odds are better than most UDFAs that he could develop into being better than starters. Or as good as a starter.
McCutcheon did dominate preseason box scores more than any other receiver but what I’m most encouraged about is that his “red flag” is being from a small school. If he hadn’t been that productive there and was only a pro day hero, then again, I wouldn’t be so high on McCutcheon. But while he’s no Cooper Kupp-at-Eastern, he was really damn good at Montana State.
Another terrific performance from #82 in the final preseason game. With that said your leading receiver of the preseason LANCE McCUTCHEON. An undrafted rookie free agent out of Montana State who is poised to make the team, and one day make an impact on offense! pic.twitter.com/H9iXoh7OEM
— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) August 28, 2022
Some Rams fans still felt him a longshot after the preseason, worried of another Nelson Spruce, but that was clearly not the case. The team found room for McCutcheon based on one reason and it is not special teams: He has a potential future as a receiver.
If the NFL could re-do the draft, I firmly believe McCutcheon has a day two grade.
What does that mean for the Rams right now? Same as it was for Tutu Atwell or Van Jefferson: the team can wait until next year to judge.
Loser – WR Jacob Harris
The team drafted Harris knowing that he had a steep learning curve and at least one season of total development. That kept Harris on the roster through 2021 and got him a Super Bowl ring, but without showing enough progress as a tight end that put the Rams in a tough spot.
Because if he was a “wide receiver” in the draft, Harris likely would not have been selected at all, let alone in the fourth round.
Harris was a raw football prospect in general, but as a wideout he is well behind most receivers in the NFL, including many practice squad receivers. That’s not a dig against Harris, it’s a compliment to the receivers who have been at it for their entire lives.
This should not be the end for Jacob Harris, he showed enough in preseason to deserve more time. But his move off of tight end and the rise of McCutcheon was the end of his run for the 53-man roster.
Winner – OT Bobby Evans
Though he has yet to win a starting job through four NFL training camps, Bobby Evans remains on the Rams roster to open another season. Perhaps this will allow the team to keep him and then move Evans onto the practice squad down the line, but for now the 2019 third round pick survives another round of cuts when many fans were expecting this to e the end.
OL Titular: Noteboom/Edwards/Brian Allen/Shelton/Havenstein
OL Reserva: Bobby Evans/Anchrum Jr./AJ Jackson pic.twitter.com/AT6iizcEIe
— Rams Brasil – Super Bowl Champions (@BrasilRams) August 30, 2022
Winner – OT AJ Arcuri (Didn’t make 53)
Though he did not make the final 53-man roster, I think Arcuri can gain a lot of confidence from these past few weeks. The worst case scenario is that he ends up on the Rams’ practice squad, where he’s seen a number of players rise up under Sean McVay to become starters. Look at Coleman Shelton, for example.
And though he was released, Arcuri may yet be claimed and find himself on a 53-man roster by tomorrow. He didn’t get onto the Rams yet but Arcuri should feel great about the progress he’s made since being taken in the seventh round four months ago.
Winner – S Russ Yeast
Les Snead maybe doesn’t get enough credit for his late round secondary finds, including undrafted free agents, day two picks, and free agents or trades. The current cornerbacks crop includes Robert Rochell, Cobie Durant, Derion Kendrick, Nick Scott, Jordan Fuller, and Yeast, all of whom were acquired on day three. Quentin Lake will start on PUP but the team is also high on him too.
The Rams feel confident that between those three cornerbacks and Yeast, they’ve found at least two starters. That should be more than enough, if true, and while Yeast got overlooked behind the other rookies, he clearly made his mark.
There’s always talk of trading away first rounders, but when Les Snead acquires a sixth or seventh rounder, it’s actually a big deal.
Loser – Earnest Brown IV
Such a tough deal for Brown IV, who gets cut for the second year in a row and who hasn’t had the spotlight on him often through his first two training camps. Of course, the Rams have held onto Brown as much as they can, but how much longer will the 2021 fifth round pick be able to stick around?
Earnest Brown IV third down sack
— DOWNTOWN RAMS [DTR] (@DowntownRams) August 14, 2022
Winner – S Taylor Rappa
He slides through without any challenges, which may or may not be a good sign of McVay’s insistence to withhold all starters from the preseason. Is there nothing to be gained from playing some of the starters who might not have long or even short-term futures with the team?
Recent examples being Troy Reeder and Kenny Young not playing in the preseason in 2021 and then parting with them midseason.
Rapp enters a contract year sharing the field with not one but two safeties. Even if the team is higher on Nick Scott than Rapp, or vice versa, it has proven to be unlikely for LA to hand out second contracts to safeties. Rapp now has a golden opportunity to show improved coverage skills and play for many more years in the league beyond 2022.