We're all expecting a solid season from Leonard Little . With first round pick Chris Long set to anchor the right DE spot, Carriker and some combination of Wroten, Ryan and Glover crashing the middle, Little and his healed up toe should be free to do what he's become famous for in St. Louis, sack the quarterback.
Of course, at 34 (he turns 34 in October) and coming off a season lost to injury, there's plenty of questions as to whether or not Little's up to it. Before we delve into the TST community projections, it's worth noting that Little's best season came in 2006, at age 32 when he started all 16 games and recorded 13 sacks, 56 tackles, and 6 forced fumbles, all career highs.
For the results of our projection, I averaged out the numbers, which were fairly close to begin with.
I didn't explicitly ask for interceptions and forced fumbles to be included in your projections, but 3k added them to his "k-diction" so I listed them here for good measure. Overall, it's a reasonable projection.
It's very likely that Little won't play all 16 games, and we expect the Rams to be fairly judicious in making that call should he encounter health concerns during the season.
In the five seasons before last, Little averaged almost 44 tackles a season. As forgettable as the 6-10 2005 season (with all the coaching hoopla) was for the Rams, LL still managed to record 9.5 sacks and 45 tackles in just 14 games. Starting at DE opposite Little on the right side was Anthony Hargrove, the Rams third round pick in the draft that year. Hargrove managed to rack up 6.5 sacks and 44 tackles. So before we try to totally purge our memories of the 2005 season, it's worth noting the similarities between this season, a top tier rookie RDE in Chris Long and a rejuvenated Leonard Little. Still, with LL likely to see fewer snaps per game than before as the Rams make an effort to save his legs for a full season AND more talent around him on the D-line, his number of tackles might actually fall a bit.
And that's fine if he makes fewer tackles, because what we're really counting on are the sacks. Nine sacks is a very possibility for Little given the new look D-line he's leading now. With Long on the right side, Carriker et al in the middle, there's no reason for the Rams to be among the bottom of the league again in sacks. See the note above about the 2005 Rams defense, if you're at all dubious.
Compare the TST projection to this one from Footballguys.com's John Norton. He sees Little making 45 tackles and 9 sacks. There's also this from SykosSports that we mentioned here last week commenting that 12 sacks isn't out of the question.
A big year for Leonard Little will be a big year for Rams fans, a confirmation of our belief that we're going to have a very respectable defense this season.
Another community projection coming tomorrow. Who will it be?