Undrafted rookies are often the ones with the tougher odds to make any final NFL roster including the Los Angeles Rams. After all, they weren’t considered top picks and are mainly brought in for roster depth until it’s time to cut down to a 53-man team.
Every team in the league including the Rams are currently in the process of trimming their rosters down to the mandatory number by 4 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, August 30. The Super Bowl 56 champions have already delivered this surprise move nearly 24 hours before the deadline: Releasing fourth round pick from the 2021 class and the ultra-athletic Jacob Harris.
However, the roster decision involving Harris led to this surprise: Two undrafted rookies making the final roster after shining in the preseason, including their last August game.
Who Landed a Final Roster Spot
Outside linebacker Keir Thomas and inside linebacker Jake Hummel were two of the big surprises as the Rams officially announced their 53-man lineup.
Per Rams insider Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic, there was the hint that both men would make their way to the 2022 depth chart.
“Hearing that ILB Jake Hummel is making the Rams’ initial roster, after impressing position coaches and, importantly, special teams coaches through the spring and summer. Hummel set team’s preseason tackles record as well,” Rodrigue tweeted.
Hummel collected 22 tackles total in the three preseason games. The decision to keep Hummel bodes well for a group that will need depth behind newcomer Bobby Wagner and rising second-year player Ernest Jones.
The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Hummel isn’t the only preseason star expected to help fill some depth in the “Rams House.” Rodrigue unveiled the why Thomas was projected to land a roster spot.
“Hearing Rams OLB Keir Thomas is making the initial roster. UDFA rookie who really worked this summer. Solid against the run, not just a pass-rusher,” Rodrigue posted.
Thomas, who stands at a defensive lineman-like 6-foot-2, 275-pounds, delivered an impressive outing in the third and final preseason game versus the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, August 27. Thomas delivered the hammer twice and added a pass rushing element.
He also brought the boom on this hit in the backfield.
Thomas also had his roster chances increasing as the Rams waived 2021 seventh rounder Chris Garrett per the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Tuesday morning.
The Journey of Both UDFAs
To reiterate, any NFL player heading to the league undrafted annually faces the toughest odds to make the final roster. Teams often put their biggest stamps on developing higher draft picks to build around the veteran options.
And on a team flooded with star power like the Rams, making the final roster as a UDFA is a mountain that’s hard to scale.
Hummel and Thomas, though, positioned themselves to hit the summit of landing on the final 53.
For Hummel, he came over via Iowa State in the Big 12. Hummel led the Cyclones in tackles in his final college season of 2021 with 80. He was also tops with 39 solo stops. He eventually earned Honorable Mention honors in the Big 12. Before that, he was a three-star prospect and the nation’s No. 56 rated ILB for the 2017 class by 247Sports.
Thomas started all 12 games in his lone season in Tallahassee — going on to deliver 42 tackles, 23 solo stops and 12 tackles for a loss.
Before FSU, Thomas teamed alongside Jones and future San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel at South Carolina. His best season was a 44 tackle campaign he delivered in 2018 — Samuel’s last collegiate season and when Jones was a true freshman.
Now, Hummel and Thomas have their lockers in place when the Rams welcome the Buffalo Bills on September 8 as members of the 2022 final roster. And they’re joining another surprise UDFA finding in Lance McCutcheon.