If I told you the Los Angeles Rams had one of the most productive 3-techniques in the entire NFL, you’d probably say “Well yeah, Aaron Donald is special”. But, what you don’t know, is I’m actually talking about DL Dominique Easley.
Easley is a former 2014 NFL Draft first-round pick (#29) from the New England Patriots. He was eventually cut by the Pats presumably because of his inability to stay healthy at the time. The Rams put in a waiver claim and signed him on a one-year deal last offseason; this year, he signed his RFA tender keeping him around for 2017 only.
For a guy who has annually been one of the better interior pass rushers in the league now with a starting role in a contract year, we may have something special on our hands. The trio of Easley/Donald/Robert Quinn could really result in a dangerous pass rushing trio:
With the Rams switching to a 3-4, Easley will be relied upon to start at DE opposite of Donald and next to Brockers. His main competition is DE Ethan Westbrooks (roster preview), DE Mike Purcell (roster preview) and rookie Tanzel Smart (roster preview). Though these guys will mainly offer rotation, Easley should very well have his starting spot entrenched.
For a guy who has been as productive as Easley has as a backup, there should be some decent expectations. It’s hard to know what new Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips has in mind when it comes to moving players around, but for a guy who has a lot of athleticism and versatility, Easley can play a variety of roles, and effectively at that.
In a very limited role last year, Easley had 2.5 sacks, but a much greater pass rushing impact. Now with more time under his belt, Easley should fill up the stat sheet more and make his presence felt on the field a much greater amount.
Chances of Making the Final Roster (10/10)
Easley is locked in on a cheap deal, is a young (25) player, and a starter now. He’s not going anywhere. The only question is if he can up his play to another level.