The Los Angeles Rams are currently in the middle of their second offseason under Head Coach Sean McVay’s trusted guidance. Last year the former Redskins Offensive Coordinator saw his new team in L.A. make a deliberate effort to revamp the offensive side of the ball via free agency, the draft, and specific coaching hires. The results led to an offensive explosion unlike anything we’ve seen since the Greatest Show on Turf era.
Last year’s offseason presented more needs than resources and something had to be neglected for the time being. The Rams defense was able to add a few veteran pieces and late round draft picks to develop but everyone always got the feeling that 2018 would be the year to really make some noise on the defensive side of the ball. Well, here we are.
The 2018 NFL Combine had barely gotten started and we already saw GM Les Snead make two ground shaking moves for Wade Phillip’s defense by acquiring CB Marcus Peters from the Kansas City Chiefs and a 2018 4th round draft pick in exchange for LB Robert Quinn and $11.4 million in cap relief.
The Rams and contracts have dominated the chatter so far this year for the defense with key contributors like DE Aaron Donald, S Lamarcus Joyner, CB Trumaine Johnson, CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, S Cody Davis, and LB Connor Barwin all looking for or requiring new deals. So, be prepared for the 2018 defense to potentially have a drastically new look.
With the NFL Combine underway, the action around the NFL is going to start to kick up a notch starting with free agency. The Rams won’t be without plenty of options to retool their defense in the same vein they retooled the offense last year. Sosa Kremenjas and myself put on our GM hats and offer up free agent and draft prospect options for each level of the defense. First up in the series:
Lets focus here on the down lineman. Players that won’t stand up and bring the beef.
DE Taven Bryan - University of Florida
For me Bryan is one of those “want” not “need” type of players in a much less but similar fashion as when the Rams drafted Aaron Donald in 2014. Bryan is so quick and explosive off the ball he could eventually team up with Donald as the Rams bookend DEs with the flexibility to move around. He’s not an EDGE player but he offers instant pass rush ability. If the Rams choose to trade down at 23, Bryan could be an outside of the box option to help the pass rush - BMule
DT Bennie Logan - Kansas City Chiefs
Logan signed a one year deal with KC and is back in the FA pool after starting his career with Philadelphia. He’s a true NT without much pass rushing ability but had the NFL’s 2nd best run-stop percentage in 2016 according to PFF. He may be worth a one year deal for a Rams defense that could help add some thickness in the middle of the defense if the price is right - BMule
I really like BMule’s choices. I think both guys offer some ability to plug a huge need for the Rams, though I probably wouldn’t lean going Defensive Line in round 1. Logan is an addition who could be a sneaky good add.
DT Tim Settle - Virginia Tech
If the Rams are looking at adding a NT who has all the skills, but not in the first round of the draft, Settle is your guy. Standing a strong 6’3 at 335 lbs, Settle is incredibly athletic and agile for a guy who’s thicker than a bowl of soup. Settle’s sheer strength and power allow him to jack offensive lineman back and re-establish the line of scrimmage often. He routinely chases plays down even with his size, he’s shown the ability to penetrate and make tackles-for-loss, and lastly, he even offers some juice as a pass rusher totaling four sacks last year. - Sosa
DT Haloti Ngata - Detroit Lions
Yup, that Haloti Ngata. Just to preface this, Ngata is 34 years old, and this would only be a one year deal to plug a veteran in and help be a stop gap, but also teach the younger guys behind him, as Ngata was one of the most dominant defensive lineman in football for many years at one point in time. Ngata only played five games last season prior to tearing his bicep. SB Nation’s resident Detroit Lions site Pride of Detroit has an article talking about the importance of Ngata in the teams ability to stop the run, and how the unit inevitably struggled without him. Ngata also had two sacks in five games last season, and a PFF grade of 79.0, which falls under their “average” category. As a cheap veteran stopgap, Ngata offers the Rams an option. - Sosa
Settle is a super intriguing option at NT and may be the one that makes the most sense from a resources point of view. He’s a mountain. Ngata has made a career of being one of the league’s fiercest run stoppers and makes a lot of sense for both the Rams and Haloti on the tail end of his career. It’s clear myself and Sosa want to see the Rams beef up the middle of the defense.
That’s all folks. BMule picked a draft pick and a free agent option, as did I, and we both offered opinions on each other’s choices.
Stay tuned for the remaining defensive positional breakdown.