Youth and uncertainty force Rams to go heavy on offensive linemen

Here is a final projection of a position-by-position look at who stays and who goes when the St. Louis Rams makes their final cuts.

QUARTERBACK (3): Nick Foles, Case Keenum, Sean Mannion

What once appeared to be a real competition between Keenum and Austin Davis never really materialized as Davis simply didn't get much of an opportunity in the preseason. Granted, the Rams know what they have in Davis and wanted to get an extended look at Keenum but this one seemed pretty well set from the moment training camp started. Foles is the starter and Mannion will get time to develop.

RUNNING BACK (5): Todd Gurley, Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham, Isaiah Pead, Chase Reynolds

It should be noted that Trey Watts is suspended the first four games of the season, otherwise he'd be here instead of Pead. But for now, Pead gets a stay until Watts comes back. Considering the injury situations with Gurley and Mason, I considered keeping a sixth back. Malcolm Brown is difficult to let go after an impressive preseason but he doesn't bring the special-teams value the Rams need from an additional back.

WIDE RECEIVER (5): Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens

Entering camp, it appeared Givens might get a run for his money but he was actually the best wideout on the team in the preseason games. He should be safe. Nobody else really stood out to make a run for a potential sixth spot.

TIGHT END (3): Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, Cory Harkey

The Rams traditionally keep at least one more here and they could keep Justice Cunningham or Alex Bayer for special-teams purposes. Neither did much in the preseason, though, and since the Rams have to keep an extra quarterback this year, this seems like a logical place to keep one less body.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10): Greg Robinson, Rodger Saffold, Jamon Brown, Tim Barnes, Barrett Jones, Rob Havenstein, Demetrius Rhaney, Garrett Reynolds, Andrew Donnal, Isaiah Battle

The Rams spent five picks on the offensive line in the offseason, which means they have a lot of young players they want to develop. Unless they're willing to cut some of them already, that means they're going to need to go heavy on the offensive line. This projection actually does remove sixth-round guard Cody Wichmann but a leg injury suffered in the spring prevented him from making much of an impression and he doesn't offer positional versatility. They should be able to get him through to the practice squad. Battle is a different proposition. He didn't play well enough to make the roster and another team might not scoop him if he's available but the Rams surrendered a fifth-round pick next year for him and knew he would take some time to get up to speed. It's a risk they probably aren't willing to take. The competition at center is too close to call, though there seems to be some momentum for Barnes as the starter. Instead of making the decision, the team opts to keep all three contenders. Ten is a lot of linemen but the Rams have too much invested from the draft to cut bait on these guys already.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Nick Fairley, William Hayes, Eugene Sims, Ethan Westbrooks, Louis Trinca-Pasat

It seemed like this would be the year that the Rams actually keep only eight defensive linemen because of needs at other positions. Then Trinca-Pasat happened. In fact, defensive tackle Trinca-Pasat and end Matt Longacre both happened. Both players earned positive reviews for their work in the preseason and made a case to make the roster. But Trinca-Pasat ultimately wins out because of his ability to push the pocket and be disruptive on the interior. Theoretically, someone could push Westbrooks for a spot as well but the feeling is that with Hayes and Sims set for free agency after the year, the Rams give him another year to develop and potentially step into an expanded role next year.

LINEBACKER (6): James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, Akeem Ayers, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Bryce Hager, Daren Bates

Bates' knee injury might force the Rams to keep an extra player here right away for special teams but otherwise, nobody has really stood out enough to land a job. Korey Toomer would've been in the mix if not for a foot injury but otherwise, this one will only change based on how the team feels about Bates' health.

CORNERBACK (4): Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner, Marcus Roberson

Imoan Claiborne's release in the initial roster cuts this week was a bit of a surprise, leaving the door open for someone else to claim the spot. But there really isn't any obvious choice unless the team wants to roll the dice on perpetually injured Brandon McGee. Because they went so heavy on offensive linemen, they will try to get by with four corners for now. In the meantime, they'll keep their eyes open for veteran options and keep a couple of extra corners on the practice squad.

SAFETY (5): T.J. McDonald, Rodney McLeod, Mark Barron, Maurice Alexander, Cody Davis

Christian Bryant and Jacob Hagen both flashed at times in the exhibition games but there simply doesn't appear to be enough room for either of them to land a spot on the roster.

SPECIALISTS (3): Johnny Hekker, Greg Zuerlein, Jake McQuaide

No drama here.