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2017 Rams Roster Preview: DE A.J. Jefferson, The Bulldog

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Can the SEC product fill in on the Rams’ new 3-4 front?

Mississippi State DE A.J. Jefferson
Mississippi State DE A.J. Jefferson
Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images

The 2017 Los Angeles Rams’ defensive line depth chart is a work in progress.

With new Defensive Coordinator Wade Philips set to slow launch his 3-4 system with a personnel group from 2016 that played in a 4-3, one of the biggest advantages Phillips will enjoy is the opportunity to develop a cushion of depth underneath the starters who has yet to be formed into a 4-3 down lineman.

Former Mississippi St. DE A.J. Jefferson is chief among the candidates to take on the opportunity to just that. A productive UDFA DE out of the SEC whom the Rams added during OTAs, Jefferson arrives in LA as a two-year starter with 12.5 sacks and 35 tackles for a loss out of Starkville, Mississippi.

Plus, he got that good SEC beard game rakin, yall:

A.J. Jefferson Mississippi State Football

OH YES INDEED DAT DUDE READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL

Roster Battle

Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers are locked in at DE and DT. I’d give the other end spot to Dominique Easley as it stands, but I think there’s some wiggle room for training camp and preseason action there.

Beyond that tier as I did in the Casey Sales roster preview, I’ll cite the rundown I put up for the defensive end battle in the Omarius Bryant roster preview:

Right now, the Rams’ official roster only lists three players at DE: Morgan Fox, Matt Longacre and Ejuan Price. I’d think Ethan Westbrooks and Louis Trinca-Pasat would be the other veteran candidates there while Tanzel Smart, A.J. Jefferson and Casey Sayles would join Bryant as rookie competing for space. That being said, there’s a ton in the air on the line. Outside of Donald and Brockers, I think the competition will be fierce. As it should be.

See you in camp.

Expectations

Well, you’ve got a productive SEC lineman. That’s always going to carry an inherent level of respect. But given how much turnover has taken place for the depth since the days of the quintuple first-round pick line, there’s not much to lean on here outside of Donald and Brockers.

Chances of Making Final Roster (3.5/10)

I gave Sayles a 3, so I’ll give Jefferson a minor bump here for competition level. His work against LSU the last two years was NFL quality in and of itself.

If he can build on his experience and show a niche skill to flash in camp and in preseason reps, he could crack the 53-man roster as a specific role player.