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2017 NFL Draft: LA Rams Must Address Defense

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We are weeks away from the 2017 NFL Draft. The Rams will be eying to add talent to their NFL worst offense but BMule noted they cannot forget about the defense.

Denver Broncos v Houston Texans Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Many fans won’t settle for anything less than “Offense or Bust” for the Los Angeles Rams’ approach to the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Rams replaced their busted LT Greg Robinson by signing former Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowler LT Andrew Whitworth. They signed WR Robert Woods after losing WR Kenny Britt to free agency. Britt did something in 2016 that no Rams WR had done since 2007 by amassing more than 1,000 receiving yards. We shouldn’t cry over it, but who exactly steps up to fill that void now? Today, they brought in former Minnesota Vikings C John Sullivan to hold down the fort at center for the foreseeable future.

Suffice it to say, the Rams’ offense shouldn’t inspire incredible confidence (any?) just yet. They need more talent. They need bodies. You could bring up any kind of reasoning to go offense early and often in the draft and you wouldn’t be wrong.

The Rams need to address their defense through this draft.

I’m not talking about throwing 6th-round picks at special teams linebackers. The Rams need to draft future starters. They need to plan for life after 2017. The future on that side of the ball is just as unclear as the offensive side of the ball. The Rams can’t get caught heading into 2018 with potentially having to replace over half of their starting defense via Free Agency and rookies.

Here’s a list of current Rams defensive players that will be UFAs after 2017:

  • CB Trumaine Johnson
  • CB Lamarcus Joyner
  • S Maurice Alexander
  • LB Connor Barwin
  • LB Alec Ogletree
  • DL Dominique Easley
  • DL Ethan Westbrooks (RFA for 2017, still unsigned)
  • CB E.J. Gaines
  • DT Matt Longacre

That’s basically an entire starting secondary and half of the front seven comprised of prominent players. Sure, many of these guys will likely come back, but odds are Wade Phillips won’t want every guy on this list and/or some of these players will bottom out.

Two players you didn’t see on that list were DE/OLB Robert Quinn and LB Mark Barron. Both players are signed through 2020 and 2021, respectively, but are highly unlikely to see the end of those contracts. Quinn has been dealing with concussions and back issues the past two seasons causing him to miss 15 of the last 32 games. It would be magical if he were to return to perfect health and 2013/2014 form but you’re basically betting red or black. Meanwhile, most people don’t know what to make of Mark Barron playing one of the two ILB positions but it could get ugly.

The way I look at this defense for the 2017 season is that you roughly have an entire starting defense worth of players auditioning for their futures in Los Angeles. You know as well as I do that all of them will not get the gig.

By not having a draft pick until the beginning of the second round in this year’s draft, the Rams can sit back and truly have a BPA approach for both sides of the ball (save for QB/RB). The 2017 draft is by all accounts stronger at the top with defensive players and the depth of class could should yield them a future starter or two whether it be in the secondary or linebacker corp. even if they wait until the middle rounds.

Contractually speaking, the offense has more stability moving forward than the defense does. The talent advantage is clearly in favor of the defense currently. To both of those points, we’ll soon find out how much longer they hold true. There’s too many holes to fill for the 2017 season but the Rams must find players for the future of the defense in a draft that offers plenty of options.

Which defensive players do you want to see drafted by the Rams?