EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams rookie class reports for duty today with the veterans joining them on Wednesday and training camp officially starting Friday.
With that in mind, let's rewind to the 2015 NFL draft and offer some thoughts on what to expect from the members of this year's draft class as we head into training camp and beyond. Earlier today, we looked at the picks from the first three rounds, now we'll examine the rest of the group.
OT Andrew Donnal, fourth round: The third of four (eventually five) offensive linemen drafted by the Rams, Donnal probably won't be asked to do much but offer solid depth in his first camp and season with the team. He comes to the Rams with plenty of experience and part of his training camp could be spent on working on some versatility so that he can help at guard or tackle. But the Rams signed veteran Garrett Reynolds in the offseason and he figures to be the first lineman off the bench in the event of injury or struggles at any spot except center. Which means Donnal will have some time to get acclimated before much is expected of him.
WR Bud Sasser, sixth round: Unfortunately for Sasser, a medical condition left him unable to be cleared to play for the Rams and he was released in the spring.
OG Cody Wichmann, sixth round: Much like Donnal, Wichmann's top priority will be working to add depth to the interior of the offensive line. The Rams seem to be well stocked with options and assuming Reynolds is the primary backup at both tackle and both guard spots, Wichmann would be the guard equivalent of Donnal at tackle. For Wichmann, though, it seems a roster spot is not guaranteed. His future could depend greatly on who wins the center battle and his ability to offer some semblance of versatility. For backup linemen in this league, especially for the Rams, the ability to play multiple positions is often a golden ticket to a roster spot.
LB Bryce Hager, seventh round: The Rams aren't exactly flush with depth at linebacker which means there could be a clear path for Hager to win a spot on the 53-man roster out of camp. Behind the starters, the Rams have the loser of the strong side job between Akeem Ayers and Jo-Lonn Dunbar and special teams ace Daren Bates. They figure to keep about six at the position and Hager would seem to have as good a chance as any to earn his way to the roster. For Hager, his primary job in camp will be proving himself on special teams. There isn't much expected of him in the way of contributing to the defense but if he can be a core special teams player, he should be able to stick.
DL Martin Ifedi, seventh round: Ifedi gets the honor of being the next seventh-round lineman attempting to elbow his way through a crowded group on the defensive line. Of course, Ifedi will come without the attention of last year's seventh-round end Michael Sam. The Rams have traditionally gone heavy on defensive linemen, keeping nine or 10 which would give Ifedi a shot. Similar to the offensive linemen, the ability to play inside and out would be a boon for Ifedi's chances. He'll likely find himself in a tight competition with the likes of defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat and Ethan Westbrooks for a potential eighth or ninth spot on the line.
OT Isaiah Battle, fifth round (supplemental): Rams general manager Les Snead essentially left no room for guessing on what Battle's role will be in 2015. Snead even went so far to use the term "redshirt year" when discussing Battle's first season. In other words, he's not expected to contribute right away and will get to add strength and learn the offense in his first year. Still, it seems unlikely the Rams will be able to stash him on the practice squad in the first year so he will have to take up a roster spot in the meantime. In the long term, though, some believe Battle could eventually push Havenstein for the right tackle job if he develops as expected.