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How long before Chris Garrett emerges as Leonard Floyd’s pass rushing partner?

Chris Garrett has the pieces to be the steal of the 2021 draft

NFL: AUG 21 Preseason - Raiders at Rams Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Los Angeles Rams rookie outside linebacker Chris Garrett may be the long term answer for edge pressure opposite of Leonard Floyd. Garrett dominated nine-year veteran offensive lineman Patrick Omameh on Saturday night against the Las Vegas Raiders, showing a consistent ability to be disruptive off of the edge.

“He did a great job,” said Sean McVay. “Made a big impact. You could see he was applying pressure consistently. Big second quarter and really you’ve seen him start to make steady improvements. And I think we always talk about it where that practice performance and preparation equals game reality and tonight was an example of that for Chris.”

While it is still the preseason, and Omameh has been the definition of a journeyman in the NFL, he obviously has enough tricks up his sleeve to go from an undrafted free agent, to lasting nearly a decade in the league. This particular matchup was one in which Garrett undoubtedly learned more about pass rushing in the NFL than if he were competing against another young late round draft pick.

He absolutely stuffed the stat sheet with four total tackles, 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits, and two pass break ups. One of his deflected passes ended up in the hands of safety J.R. Reed for an LA interception midway through the second quarter.

You don’t even have to go back to his collegiate days at Concordia College St. Paul, where Garrett racked up 36.5 sacks and holds the NCAA Division II record for career forced fumbles with 15.

Garrett showed signs of promise against the Los Angeles Chargers. While he didn’t get a sack, he did show enough pass rushing prowess to impress former Los Angeles Ram turned color commentator Aqib Talib into saying, “Pardon my excitement, I’m just watching Chris Garrett” during the broadcast.

“He’s a natural, in my opinion,” added Talib.

With Justin Hollins apparently getting the first crack to start at right outside linebacker, Garrett’s most immediate competition among the backup edge rushers consists of Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Justin Lawler, and Terrell Lewis.

Lawler is all but assured to slot in as Floyd’s direct back up on the left side of the defense, as he shined in the Rams first preseason game against the Chargers.

Both Okoronkwo and Lewis have shown durability issues during their time in the NFL. Okoronkwo has played in only 20 games since being drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 draft, accumulating 2.5 sacks over his career.

Unfortunately, Lewis has been exceptionally injury prone, going back to the University of Alabama, which made the perceived first round talent drop to the third round of the 2020 NFL draft. He missed half of his rookie year and countless valuable reps during the 2021 offseason, due to various ailments.

At this point, the 2021 seventh round draft pick is a near lock to make the roster. Due to Lewis’ inability to get on the field, Garrett’s worst case scenario should be the third right edge rusher on the roster behind Okoronkwo.

If the Milwaukee, WI native has another dominating performance against the Denver Broncos in the preseason finale this Saturday, a legitimate case could be made that a sort of in season competition between he and Okoronkwo is necessary.

Without a multi-year starter ahead of him on the depth chart, and youth on his side, Garrett should be able to emerge as contributor in pass rushing situations this season with room for much more in the seasons to come. Garrett may very well be the piece that turns the right outside linebacker from a question mark during the 2021 offseason to position of strength going forward.

Poll

Is Chris Garrett the future at right outside linebacker?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    No, he is the present. Start him week one!
    (165 votes)
  • 31%
    Yes, he should take over the starting role within the next couple of seasons.
    (178 votes)
  • 27%
    Maybe. I need to see more to determine.
    (154 votes)
  • 11%
    Slow down! He had a good preseason. Pump the breaks.
    (64 votes)
561 votes total Vote Now