New Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips is set to remake the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive into his famed (and famously successful) 3-4 base, albeit cautiously. Handed a roster with players that were specifically picked to play in a 4-3, Phillips is experienced enough to know you can’t just take square pegs and push them into round holes and expect things to go smoothly.
But while much attention will be paid to how Phillips works with the top of the depth chart with starters like DL Aaron Donald and OLB Robert Quinn, a significant portion of his work will go into building up the back end of the roster. Perhaps no prospect embodies that effort more than DL Omarius Bryant.
The Western Kentucky product had an incredibly successful senior season as a consistently disruptive force on a pretty good WKU team. As PFF noted in their profile of Bryant, he had the second-most pressures of any 3-4 DE in college football last year.
Can he ride the transition wave into a roster spot?
Part of what will be interesting with the Phillips transition is to see what roles get carved out. As Sosa helped break down in this video and Eric investigated back in February, Phillips is flexible his defensive line assignments. With a primary pairing of DE Aaron Donald and DT Michael Brockers, I’m not sure how the front will play out through training camp and the preseason. It could well be that Wade looks to have one spot for quicker, more athletic ends and one for stronger, more physical ones.
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.
Not really any. He’s a second wave UDFA, so he’s granted the blanket cover of being able to compete without any additional pressures.
Chances of Making Final Roster (3/10)
I’m giving him a decent bump here beyond the practice squad only because of the churn on the D-line behind Donald and Brockers. Given how uncertain the status of any of the options are, none are going to get less than a 3 from me. Last year’s initial 53-man roster went two-deep on the entire line. While the coaching staff has been overhauled, it’s at least a starting point.
That would mean three defensive ends after Donald.
Why not Omarius Bryant?