Last Friday, I covered which St. Louis Ram should see the field more in 2014. If you missed it, I made the case for Stedman Bailey.
Today, we’re focusing on the inverse: Which Rams player should see the field less in 2014?
I’m not counting likely cap cuts such as Cortland Finnegan and Harvey Dahl since they’re too obvious of choices, plus they’re highly unlikely to be on the roster when 2014 training camp opens up. I’m only considering players who are under contract for 2014 and who aren’t likely to be cut this offseason.
Therefore, the player who I’d like to see less of in 2014 is safety Rodney McLeod.
Don’t get me wrong: McLeod’s a nice story and always gives his full effort. He was signed as an unrestricted free agent out of Virginia in 2012 and after playing almost exclusively on special teams his rookie season, he earned the starting free safety spot in 2013.
McLeod had his moments – he had two picks (tied for second on the team), three forced fumbles (third) and two fumbles recovered (tied for first). He had the third most tackles among Rams defenders with 79, beaten only by linebackers James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree.
It may also surprise you to learn that McLeod led all Rams defenders with 1,083 snaps played, six more than Laurinaitis.
However, McLeod was simply too inconsistent to justify him playing as much in 2014 as he did in 2013. Let’s start with his overall rating of -8.7, according to Pro Football Focus. That rating placed him 11th out of 15 Rams defenders who played in least 300 snaps this season.
Among his peers at safety, McLeod didn’t fare any better. Among 67 safeties who participated in at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps, McLeod ranked 58th*.
*I should note that McLeod’s partner-in-crime, Rams strong safety T.J. McDonald ranks right behind him at 59th with a -9.4 rating. I’m willing to give McDonald a break because he’s a rookie and because he missed a stretch of a games in the middle of the season due to a broken leg.
McLeod also didn’t rank well according to PFF’s signature stats for safeties. Here are those stats listed along with McLeod’s rank. Again, we’re measuring him against safeties who participated in at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps in the corresponding situations.
Now, as mentioned earlier, McLeod, 23, is only entering his third year in 2014. One would expect him to continue improving as he progresses in his career. But based on a pretty large sample size from his time as a starter in 2013, it seems as if McLeod simply isn’t talented enough to be a full-time starter in the NFL.
Johnny Hekker and Robert Quinn represented the Rams well in the Pro Bowl.