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Rams defense ranks near the bottom in new ESPN assessment

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So, the folks at ESPN and Pro Football Focus don't think much of the Rams defense this year.

Michael Thomas

I'm not sure what team the guys at ESPN and Pro Football Focus were watching when they wrote this latest roster rankings piece, but it couldn't have been the St. Louis Rams. They ranked the Rams defense No. 22 on their most recent list of the NFL's defenses.

No, really, they did.

Then again, we've seen these numbers before, in a different context, from PFF's last ranking of the Rams roster which wasn't very positive. (3k handled that one for us).

Here's what they said about the Rams (Insider subscription required):

You could argue the Rams' three best defensive players are defensive ends. Of course, they have defensive player of the year Robert Quinn at right and Chris Long at left end. But backup William Hayes was also incredibly impressive this past season. His run stop percentage of 10.5 was third best for the position in 2013. Adding to the abundance of riches, the next two best players are likely defensive tackles Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers. And we haven't even talked about rookie Aaron Donald, whom the Rams drafted in the first round.

But while they have a remarkable defensive line, their linebackers and defensive backs probably wouldn't be starters on most teams. Their mediocrity poses major problems for the entire unit.

I won't argue with some of it, because these roster rankings don't take into account rookies with no experience or young players coming off a down season. It lacks context, which is the chief problem I have with PFF's stats ... stats which are incredibly useful nonetheless.

Without a doubt, the secondary and the linebackers have much to prove this year. But I would disagree with the assessment that they're all "poor" players, per the PFF rankings. In fact, the PFF rankings only gave the Rams TWO defensive players who weren't "poor," and that just seems silly.