THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – There is a youth movement in Los Angeles, as the Rams own the third-youngest roster in the NFL after yesterday's 53-man roster deadline with an average player age of 25.1 years.
However, context is important. For Rams head coach Sean McVay, the fairest way to examine their current collection of players heading into Week 1 is to individually examine whether there's youth or experience at each position group.
"I think we've got some guys that are young players, but they're mature football players even though they might be younger," McVay said during a video conference with reporters Saturday. "We want to have smart, good football players that do the right thing. We do have a good mix."
The biggest example McVay cited when making his point was the offensive line, which occupies 10 spots on the initial 53-man roster.
Though the personnel beyond 38-year-old left tackle Andrew Whitworth is young, many of those players played meaningful snaps last year or in previous years, such as center Austin Blythe and right tackle and 2015 second-round pick Rob Havenstein.
Add in the reps attained by second-year pros David Edwards and Bobby Evans plus third-year pros Brian Allen, Joe Noteboom and Austin Corbett last year, and youth doesn't necessarily equal inexperience.
"Those guys last year that were rookies that played a lot, I look at that experience as invaluable," McVay said. "It's not like they're going into their second year where they're just kind of reserve backup lineman that aren't getting on the grass and playing meaningful snaps."
At the same time, McVay and the rest of the coaching staff recognized having promising young players doesn't mean depth shouldn't be addressed at certain positions.
When yesterday's deadline passed, Los Angeles had just three inside linebackers on its initial roster with varying experience in Micah Kiser, Kenny Young and Troy Reeder. Kiser played in 16 games in a special teams role as a rookie in 2018 before missing the 2019 season with a pectoral injury. Young has 30 games under his belt so far – nine with the Rams and 21 with the Ravens. Reeder played in all 16 games as a rookie and started in eight.
McVay didn't rule out taking a look at the waiver wire prior to today's 9 a.m. pacific time claiming deadline, and the club was able to successfully claim Justin Hollins, a 2019 fifth-round pick by the Broncos who spent time learning both outside linebacker and inside linebacker in Denver, to fill the open spot on their roster.
"We'll probably look at what the waiver wire looks like and potentially be able to claim somebody from another club," McVay said yesterday prior to the 1 p.m. pacific time 53-man roster deadline. "And if we feel like nobody is of interest to us, then that's where we'll end up elevating somebody from our own practice squad that we anticipate tomorrow."
McVay acknowledged veteran departures played a natural role in the roster becoming younger over the course of the last several months. If former wide receiver Brandin Cooks, former running back Todd Gurley or former safety Eric Weddle were still on the roster, for example, McVay said maybe the team is less inclined to draft Van Jefferson and Cam Akers in the second round or draft a pair of safeties.
While McVay also said he wouldn't say he anticipated the roster being as young as it is, he's pleased with where it is at.
"A lot of bright spots, a lot of things to be excited about," McVay said.