Rams' 53-man roster projection includes deep receiving corps

The Los Angeles Rams will cut their roster to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here's a projection:

QUARTERBACK (2): Jared Goff, Blake Bortles

Entering the fourth season of his rookie deal, Goff does not have a new contract in hand, but general manager Les Snead said during camp that it's "Not a matter of if, but when" the former first-overall pick signs a long-term deal. The Rams added some insurance behind him when they signed Bortles to a one-year deal. Bortles led the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game in 2017 and will be a suitable backup if anything happens to Goff.

RUNNING BACK (4): Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, John Kelly

Expect the Rams to carry three backups behind Gurley, who practiced on an every-other-day schedule throughout camp. The Rams matched the Lions' two-year, $3.3 million offer sheet for Brown, spent a third-round pick on Henderson and Kelly fought his way into the last spot during the preseason.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, Mike Thomas, JoJo Natson

The first four spots in the receiving corps were a lock going into camp, leaving two jobs up for grabs. Thomas, a sixth-round pick in 2016, is returning from a season-ending groin injury suffered in Week 1 of last season. He was a standout performer throughout camp and will should be a solid fifth receiver. It could be a difficult decision between KhaDarel Hodge and Natson for the sixth spot, but give Natson the edge because of his ability as a return specialist.

TIGHT END (3): Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Johnny Mundt

Everett was a standout throughout the offseason program and carried that momentum into camp, where he split time with Higbee and the starters. For a second season, Mundt should fill out the trio.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Andrew Whitworth, Joe Noteboom, Brian Allen, Austin Blythe, Rob Havenstein, Bobby Evans, David Edwards, Jamil Demby

McVay briefly considered playing the left guard Noteboom and center Allen, both first-year starters, in the preseason but ultimately decided against it after they proved their capabilities in four joint practices. Edwards, a fifth-round pick from Wisconsin, has been praised by coaches as a quick learner and should be the go-to backup.

DEFENSIVE LINE (7): Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Tanzel Smart, Morgan Fox, Greg Gaines, John Franklin-Myers

A sixth-round pick from Rutgers in 2018, Joseph-Day was the surprise of camp as he battled for the starting spot at nose tackle. He's expected to be the Week 1 starter, but will have to continue to fend off the rookie Gaines, a fourth-round pick from Washington. Donald returns for his sixth season, and a chance to become the first player to be named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year three times in a row.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (6): Clay Matthews, Dante Fowler Jr., Samson Ebukam, Trevon Young, Ogbo Okoronkwo, Natrez Patrick

Fowler's presence grew throughout camp and he impressed during two joint practices against the Raiders. Matthews brings a veteran presence and Ebukam, who started last season, will continue to appear in the rotation. After dealing with nagging injuries as a rookie and early in camp, Okoronkwo finally made his debut on the field and should earn a spot on the roster -- something that appeared in question because of his prolonged period on the sideline.

INSIDE LINEBACKER (4): Cory Littleton, Bryce Hager, Travin Howard, Dakota Allen

Second-year pro Micah Kiser was projected to start alongside Littleton, but instead is likely to start the season on injured reserve after undergoing surgery on his left pec. Hager, a long-time special teams standout, will move into the starting role. Allen, a seventh-round pick from Texas Tech, was slowed during the offseason and early portion of training camp because of injury, and appeared bound for the practice squad, but he came on late and should earn a spot.

SECONDARY (10): Cornerbacks Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Troy Hill, David Long, Darious Williams, safeties Eric Weddle, John Johnson III, Taylor Rapp, Marqui Christian

There's no question here that Talib, Peters and Robey-Coleman will be the starting cornerbacks, though Talib was slowed after joint practices with the Raiders because of a hamstring issue. Williams was a camp surprise and consistently delivered solid play. Weddle will take over as the signal caller at safety as teammates on both sides of the ball have lauded his football IQ. Johnson led the team with four interceptions last season and is poised for a breakout. Rapp, a rookie from Washington, proved his versatility throughout the preseason with his ability to play in coverage, with the linebackers and at the line of scrimmage.

SPECIALIST (3): K Greg Zuerlein, P Johnny Hekker, LS Jake McQuaide

This group is the definition of consistency since it was formed in 2012.