This preview will cover five players who can impact 2013s success both in a negative and positive way depending on their play. Certain players are excluded, for example there will be no rookies. This series will be about players that has at least one year of experience and can either take a step forward or backwards. The entire offseason is based on judging and labeling rookies that have yet to play a down. I will not continue, lets lay it to rest and focus on the other guys with camp so close. The players that at least have something to base their preview off of. Another player to be excluded will be Sam Bradford. He has received enough coverage and I think we all get the point.
Links To Top Five Covered:
Next man up is, defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
Brockers on St Johnson (via RamsHerd)
In the last post on Janoris Jenkins, I said he might be the best player on the entire team. Even playing on the same side of the ball as the possible best player we have, I am calling Brockers the most Important player on the entire defense.
Brockers had a wonderful rookie year recording, 63 TT, 4 SCK, 9 TFL, 1 FF, 13 QBP, 4 QBH, and 2 PD.
Prior to the return of Brockers' 100% healh, which was not declared until week 5, the rams allowed 135.25 yards a game on the ground. Before Adrian Peterson's monsterous game, the rams were allowing just over 100 a game. We finshed the season allowing 117.5, good enough for 15th in the league.
Of the 135.25 allowed before Brockers was back at full speed, an average of 30 YPR came up the middle. After Brockers returned to full health, that number dropped to 24.7 for the remaining games. Now subtract that one insane run by Adrian Peterson and that number falls to 19.4.
Brockers was a true difference maker in the run game. And though 10 yards less may not seem like a lot, imagine if our total yards allowed dropped 10, to become 107.5, that's good enough for top 10 rush defense. Those ten yards make a huge difference.
And Brockers only got better as the season wore on. The team website had this to say about him....
December can sometimes bring the “rookie wall” that sees some players start to slow down late in their first season. It was the opposite for Rams first-round pick Michael Brockers, who earned All-Rookie honors from the Pro Football Writers of America.
Brockers capped off a strong rookie season by playing at a high level throughout the final month. In Week 16, he recorded five tackles and played a key role in the Rams limiting Doug Martin to just 62 yards on 18 carries. In Week 14 at Buffalo, he had 1.5 sacks, his second multi-sack game this season. Brockers finished the year with 4.0 sacksIn Week 13, Brockers posted a career-high 11 tackles in the team’s win over San Francisco. RB Frank Gore gained just 58 yards on 23 carries, thanks in part to Brockers either shedding blockers or eating space.
Brockers, the team’s first round pick in last April’s draft, missed the first three games after suffering an ankle injury in the preseason finale. However, he ended the season with 63 tackles, most among all Rams defensive linemen. He also had 13 QB pressures
The video above is an indication of what type of player he is. He drops into coverage, identifies where the ball is going, then runs halfway across field to chase down a receiver, and makes the tackle short of the goal line. This was huge because the Bills did not get into the endzone on this drive and in a game as close as this one was, that could have and probably would have been the difference.
Brockers is a very big man at 6'5" 322, and he actually looks closer to 335. But his mobility and agility does not get the respect it deserves. He moves more like a 6'3" 275 lb defensive end. He works his way through traffic, and you never see him get tripped up. He has also displayed a good football I.Q. doing an excellent job dissecting plays.
I am very anxious to see what he will bring to the table now that he is seasoned some, and showed only signs of progression and no regression last season. The numbers don't lie, no player proved to be more valuable to our run defense. If Brockers has a down year, we could be in for a colossal disappointing year on defense. But if he takes the next step in his progression, we are headed towards a top ten defense.
The bulk of the rushing yards we gave up were ran to our weakside. Neither Chris Long or Robert Quinn performed that well vs the run. In fact the only defensive lineman to perform admirably other than Brockers was William Hayes. And with teams running to the weakside the backer they faced more times than not was either Rocky McIntosh or a nickle corner. With the addition of Alec Ogletree, to balance out the outside run defense, and the resigning of Hayes, there should be a drastic improvement overall for the entire run defense. But it all starts in the middle.