clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Position by Position: Defensive Tackle

With the NFL Combine having drawn to a close, teams have a better understanding of the prospects they may be targeting in the NFL Draft. While the Rams are not expected to make a splash in the draft at defensive tackle, every team would like to come away from the event having bettered themselves at nearly every position. This weeks Fold Push or Play examines whether the Rams should look to the future, or squat-hold to solidify the interior of the defensive line.


Defensive Tackle:

Michael Brockers- An argument against Michael Brockers is hard to put together. The former 1st round pick improved in nearly every statistical category during his second season in the league. Brockers excels at the Stack and Shed; pushing back on the blocker, and quickly releasing his grip while going after the quarterback or ball carrier. Brockers can drop into coverage on short and intermediate routes, causing headaches in the passing game. His ability to stop the run is unparalleled in the NFC West, a division that has dominate running games. It could be argued that Michael Brockers is the best defensive tackle in the division, if not the NFC. His ceiling has not been reached, and yet he is a cornerstone of an elite defensive line. He also had minor ankle surgery in between the 2012-2013 seasons, but it didn't slow him down in the slightest. Brockers is still under his rookie contract, a four year deal with a fifth year option.

Kendall Langford- Playing next to Michael Brockers, Langford doesn't get the credit he deserves. Langford recorded career highs in tackles- 36 solo, 13 assists, and sacks- 5 for an average of 5.6 yards per sack. Langford is a constant presence on the line, having played in every game over his six year career. The former 3rd round pick by the Miami Dolphins just turned 28, and is under contract with the Rams through the 2015 season, carrying a $7 million cap hit into that season.

Jermelle Cudjo- As backup defensive ends go, Cudjo is an average player. When given the chance to start four games during the 2012 season, he racked up 20 tackles with just one assist. Garnering just 11 tackles and zero sacks for the 2013 campaign, his under performance hardly justifies his salary of $900,000. Rotated smartly, he can occupy space to give Michael Brockers a breather. Cudjo's contract runs out this season, and the Rams would be smart to explore other options this off-season.

Matt Conrath- Conrath is an unknown and virtually untested commodity on the defensive line. Signed as an undrafted-free-agent in 2012, he sat out the season. In 2013 he saw limited action as a backup in just seven games. Conrath will be a restricted-free-agent after the 2014 campaign, if he hangs on to a roster spot through the year. St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher seems to like the 24 year old, and coupled with his meager $572,000 salary, Conrath may stick around. He is a young player with potential, but there are day two and beyond defensive tackles in the 2014 draft who could usurp his roster spot such as DaQuan Jones, Sr-Penn State, and Anthony Johnson, Jr-LSU.

Verdict- Push. The Rams have two very solid starters at defensive tackle, a capable backup, and a young developing player behind that. The Rams will draft at least one defensive tackle, which will fill the fifth and final defensive end roster spot. With good depth at defensive end, the Rams have the flexibility to shift personnel around on the defensive front, which lessens the burden on defensive tackle depth. Defensive tackle is one of the smaller priorities on a young and up-and-coming team.