The Rams drafting defensive tackles was a disaster for the greater majority of the 2000s. Damione Lewis, Ryan Pickett, Jimmy Kennedy and Adam Carriker were all selected in the first round. None of them became good players for the St. Louis Rams.
The position is finally taking a turn for the better with Les Snead and Jeff Fisher in charge. The position wasn't horrible under Steve Spagunolo due to some good old man football from Freddy Robbins, but it wasn't a strength. That may have changed.
Fisher and co selected Michael Brockers with their first draft pick with St. Louis and brought in Kendall Langford in free agency. There is finally some stability and talent up the middle for the Rams defense, and that deserves a lot of credit for the improvement of the defense as a whole.
Michael Brockers may be my favorite Rams player. He is stupid strong. As a rookie I thought he would struggle adjusting to NFL blocking. I didn't think he continue to simply over power players as he did in college.
I was wrong. Brockers started off slow because of an ankle injury, which caused him to miss the first four game of the season. When he came back, he play okay, but in the second half of the year he played exceptionally well for a rookie defensive linemen. He may in fact be the Rams best defensive player right now.
The best news is he is only 22, and he hasn't come close to hitting his peak. He is going to be a good one.
Kendall Langford had a pretty average year last season, which angered some fans as he was paid handsomely to come to St. Louis. It was his first year out of the 3-4 defense in the NFL, and he had to adjust to playing three technique rather than five. He should improve this year, and his production should be much better as the other young pieces that line up next to him (Robert Quinn, Brockers) should both take a step up.
The Rotational Players
Many were pretty ho-hum about the Jermelle Cudjo re-signing, but I was pretty happy. Cudjo is a great rotational piece on the defensive line. He is a guy that has a knack for getting in the opponent's backfield. He is an above average run defender, and an average pass rusher. He is a useful piece in the rotation, because his style of play changes things up.
Matthew Conrath is now entering his second season with the Rams. He played in 3 games in 2012, but didn't register a stat. Conrath is tall at 6' 7", but he is under 300 lbs. He has some pass rush skills that he has shown flashes of. There is some potential in him as a three technique, and he should earn a roster spot.
The Camp Players
The Rams only kept 8 defensive linemen in 2012, and it's likely they stick with the same number. There's a good chance one of these guys end up on the practice squad. I really hope it Lapuaho because I want to hear Ryan Van Bibber try to pronounce his name on a future episode of Turf Show Radio.