Skip to main content

Rams News | Los Angeles Rams -

53-Man Roster Takeaways: All 14 drafted rookies make squad

Looking back on the initial 53-man roster a year ago, it still feels so familiar.

21 of the offensive players were back from the Super Bowl team. 19 on defense had been with Los Angeles previously. Even two of the three specialists were returning Rams.

That meant that only 11 individuals were making the roster for the first time – and of that group, one was named Bobby Wagner; another Allen Robinson.

Only eight rookies had been layered in.

This year? All 14 drafted rookies made the initial cut.

None of this was unexpected. But to see it on paper, far from finalized, but official for the first time, is still staggering.

Let's get into some observations, with the caveat that all NFL rosters are still moving targets.

QB Two

Despite a discouraging preseason finale in Denver, Stetson Bennett will go into his rookie season as Matthew Stafford's backup, as of this writing.

Whether it's Brett Rypien or an outside addition, expect the Rams to replenish their quarterback room with a practice squad signing on Wednesday. It feels like an urgent priority to keep developing Bennett in the context of Sean McVay's game plans, allowing him to learn the Rams offense, as opposed to running the scout team this fall.

Lining Up

The addition of Kevin Dotson from the Pittsburg Steelers complicated an already crowded picture on the Rams offensive line.

Ultimately, they chose to move forward with Zach Thomas and Warren McClendon Jr. as their final reserves, releasing 2022 third-round selection Logan Bruss, who was robbed of his rookie season by injury and had yet to find a home as a backup, sliding from guard to tackle this summer.

The offensive line transition can be perplexing from the outside, but I continue to believe there are really good forces at play here that will result in improved outcomes: a new position coach in Ryan Wendell; potential scheme tweaks in combination with new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur; rethinking how to keep a buffeted Matthew Stafford upright in 2023; a ruthless recommitment to competition across the line (as evidenced by the release of Bruss); and the goal of being bigger and more violent up front, articulated nicely by Tremayne Anchrum Jr. on this week's Rams Revealed.


Let's look at the skill group in totality, as the eligible targets are inextricably linked.

Four tight ends is a big number, especially for an offense predicated on 11-personnel. Last year, Tyler Higbee was the only Ram at this position to log more than 17 percent of offensive snaps!

Perhaps that will change in 2023, because Brycen Hopkins had his best summer yet, L.A. acquired Hunter Long from Miami for a reason, and drafted rookie Davis Allen's performance against the Raiders (and in practice settings) made him too intriguing to release.

At running back, the Rams also keep four with Cam Akers and Kyren Williams thriving atop the depth chart, and Ronnie Rivers refusing to take no for an answer this summer. As their fourth, drafted rookie Zach Evans gets the nod over veteran Royce Freeman, who as a vested veteran gets to choose his next destination, perhaps on the practice squad in Thousand Oaks?

At receiver, it appears to have come down to Demarcus Robinson, who shined in training camp, and Tyler Johnson, who thrived under the preseason lights. Robinson wins out as for now, which is consistent with his NFL track record, leaving the Rams with six in what I believe is a very underrated receiving corps.

Finding a New Edge

Interesting and unsurprising to see the Rams go a different direction at outside linebacker. It was a position group that underachieved last season, was attacked in the draft, and is now under the leadership of a new position coach.

Michael Hoecht is the only returning player at the position to make this first Rams roster (Zach VanValkenburg was on the practice squad in 2022), and even he wasn't in the edge rusher framework until late last season.

Byron Young earned a starting role early in the preseason, and Nick Hampton makes it as a drafted rookie, as well.

Meantime, Ochaun Mathis is straight out of central casting on the edge at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, listings reminiscent of Leonard Floyd or Terrell Lewis from recent Rams rosters. Let's hope it's only a matter of time until we see him in action. Depending on his injury recovery timeline, he could be someone who is moved to injured reserve after making the initial cut.

Copeland Cut

We had a feeling it wasn't a good sign when Marquise Copeland was playing deep into Saturday's contest in Denver, despite being listed as a depth chart starter and being the free agent the Rams opted to retain this offseason. I'm curious to hear the context on that decision, given the defense's struggles up front in August.

Cornering the Market

As with Copeland, Robert Rochell's playing time against the Broncos didn't bode well for this week, and he was among the final cuts on Tuesday afternoon. It's an unfortunate ending (at least temporarily) for a prospect who once held such promise within the organization.

That leaves a starting trio of Cobie Durant, Derion Kendrick, and Ahkello Witherspoon, plus an ascendant Tre Tomlinson , and Shaun Jolly as a fifth corner. The Rams also keep five safeties.

Kicking It Down the Road

For the moment, the Rams are without a placekicker after waiving Tanner Brown. The carousel is spinning rapidly league-wide, and only 32 of the best on the planet will have roster spots by the end of the week.

Thus, the Rams can and should take their time exploring what option makes the most sense for the opener at Seattle, even if staging further competition is required. Hopefully Brown or another candidate can remain in waiting on the practice squad, to be elevated on game day or in case of emergency.

What about college free agents?

Whereas the entire drafted class of 2023 makes it through to the initial roster, conversely, only long snapper Alex Ward survives from the pool of undrafted Rams rookies. Several others figure to stay with the organization on the practice squad, however. And again, this is all subject to change in the next 24 hours (and beyond) as waiver claims are reconciled. Today's news is only a starting line.

Take a look through photos of the 2023 Los Angeles Rams 53-man roster.

Related Content