While the defensive line, safety spots, and outside cornerback spots are all presumably spoken for, the Rams are likely to get competitions going for every starting linebacker job and they’ve got a need for a standout slot corner. The NFC West figures to feature talented slot receivers for all three of LA’s divisional opponents: Larry Fitzgerald, Tyler Lockett, and Deebo Samuel could all work out of the slot.
Even if those teams went with other options, the two teams other than the Seattle Seahawks are pretty deep at the position. The San Francisco 49ers corps could go either way and much may depend on the rookie contributions of Brandon Aiyuk. Rosenthal opted to go with David Long as the starting nickel over Terrell Burgess. For now.
DE Michael Brockers
DT Aaron Donald
DT A’Shawn Robinson
OLB Leonard Floyd
ILB Travin Howard
OLB Samson Ebukam
CB Jalen Ramsey
CB Troy Hill
CB David Long
S John Johnson
S Taylor Rapp
At the linebacker spots, Rosenthal chose Travin Howard to replace Cory Littleton on the inside.
Travin Howard appears to be the likely successor to Cory Littleton, according to Rich Hammond of The Athletic. Micah Kiser appears to be the favorite to start on the inside on running downs. If you aren’t familiar with the stylings of Howard and Kiser, you aren’t alone. They have combined to play 103 career snaps.
Rosenthal called Leonard Floyd a “wild card” and worries for the Rams in terms of their players known for rushing the passer; Aaron Donald, kind of Floyd, and who else? But how is that different from last season with Donald and Dante Fowler? Certainly Fowler was a little more proven than Floyd is now, but at the time of acquisition they may be about on par and LA did have a decent defense. So perhaps there is some hope for the defense even with only two pass rushers.
Finally, he went with Samson Ebukam opposite of him.
Is this the best starting 11 the Rams could put up against an NFL offense next season? It could be and the team has elite players upfront and in the secondary but to really improve they’re going to need at least a couple of these lesser known or proven commodities to break out from the opportunity.