Rams News: Pro Football Focus Ranks Defensive Line Eighth-Best In NFL

Originally published by RamsNewswire.com

The Los Angeles Rams have a number of notable voids to fill on their roster amid all the significant changes they made leading up to the 2020 NFL season.

Although the Rams parted ways with several key players on both sides of the ball, their biggest concerns still remain on defense with the departure of Cory Littleton and Dante Fowler Jr. in free agency. Fortunately, they managed to somewhat stop the bleeding by bringing back defensive tackle Michael Brockers after he was initially slated to join the Baltimore Ravens until the three-year, $30 million deal fell through due to concerns over his physical.

This did not prevent Los Angeles from taking precautions to beef up the supporting cast alongside defensive tackle Aaron Donald on the interior with the addition of A’Shawn Robinson. Meanwhile, the emergence of Greg Gaines and Sebastian Joseph-Day alongside the defensive line has given the new coaching staff a solid stable of talent to work with.

Of course, any group led by Donald is a force to be reckoned with. Pro Football Focus graded the Rams’ defensive line as the eighth-best in the league heading into the 2020 campaign:

The Rams don’t just have the best defensive lineman in the NFL in Aaron Donald, but they have arguably the best player in the NFL, period. By any measure, Donald is by far the best pass-rusher in football, owning the best pressure rate, pass-rush win rate and PFF grade of any player at any position over more or less any period of time since he entered the league. He had 80 total pressures in 2019 after posting a league-leading 106 in 2018. The team’s problem has been assembling a supporting cast capable of helping Donald maximize his impact.

PFF added that the Rams still have more than enough talent to fill the spots left by Fowler and Clay Matthews:

Last season, Dante Fowler Jr. was at least capable of cleaning up the havoc Donald caused inside, but with Fowler now in Atlanta, somebody else needs to step up. Samson Ebukam has been a solid run defender and an average pass-rusher, and he could be pushed for playing time by Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who is entering Year 3 after barely playing but flashing rush ability when he has.

Inside, the Rams retained Michael Brockers after it looked like he was headed elsewhere in free agency — but only after they signed A’Shawn Robinson from the Lions, which feels a little redundant. Both players are run-focused nose tackles without the pass-rushing versatility to play alongside each other.

Their high ranking hardly comes as any surprise considering the defensive line has long been a point of strength for the Rams. While they may be relying on some unproven talent to establish themselves as integral role players, there is more than enough experience and potential for them to be confident.

Despite the major changes to the roster and coaching staff, defensive coordinator Brandon Staley has expressed his plans to maintain many elements of Wade Phillips’ defense. Staley will likely task the defensive line with serving as a stabilizing factor while the linebackers and secondary get acclimated to the new system.

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