The Rams traded for Dante Fowler in 2018, who was a top draft choice for the Jacksonville Jaguars. When Fowler left for the Atlanta Falcons in free agency, LA turned to the recently released Leonard Floyd. Floyd has been a key part of the Rams defense over the last couple of seasons - and trading for Von Miller in 2021 put the Los Angeles defense over the top.
LA already has an aggressive pass rush with star defensive tackle in the middle and with Floyd on the outside, but acquiring a second productive edge defender could once again return the Rams’ defense to the level of scary. Pass rush could be even more important in 2022, with a number of young corners being asked to step up after the departure of Darious Williams. Since pass rush and coverage work in tandem, the ability to consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks would make the margin of error for the young LA corners much wider - and that could be the recipe for success early in the season.
The Rams are never done adding talent to their roster - and with a potential 10 draft choices in the upcoming 2023 draft - LA has the capital and resources to make a move.
Here are 4 potential trade targets for the Rams at edge defender:
Julian Okwara - Detroit Lions
Could Les Snead and Brad Holmes team up for another trade? The two have a history of coming together after the quarterback swap of Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff and then the Lions’ later acquisition of Michael Brockers.
Julian is currently on the Lions with his older brother Romeo, who was a key re-signing in Holmes’ first year as general manager. The younger Okwara was a third round draft choice in 2020, and he’s a plus pass rusher - recording a 76.8 pass-rushing grade from PFF and five sacks in 2021.
But after Detroit drafted Aidan Hutchinson number two overall and then two more defensive ends later in last month’s draft, Okwara could be expendable. Still on a rookie contract, he could be an affordable player for the Rams and capable of taking on a larger role.
Jonathan Greenard - Houston Texans
Another member of the 2020 draft class is Jonathan Greenard, who has emerged as a borderline elite pass rusher on a bad Texans team. Greenard earned an 89.2 pass-rushing grade and notched eight sacks in 2021.
While he’s not a household name, at least yet, the former third round selection could be on his way to stardom.
Greenard is currently projected to start at edge defender opposite former Ram Obo Okoronkwo, but could a rebuilding Texans team part with him for the right price? Perhaps LA could entice Houston by throwing in a younger player such as receiver Van Jefferson or outside linebacker Terrell Lewis.
Bradley Chubb - Denver Broncos
The Rams acquired Miller from the Broncos mid-season in 2021, and while Chubb is not nearly as productive as an edge rusher, he could find success in LA. Los Angeles has been able to bring in athletic edge rushers and take the pressure off of them - opposing offenses are likely to allocate more resources to slowing down Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd.
Would Chubb be better as the number two or three option instead of having to be “the guy” in Denver?
Injuries have been a major concern for the former first rounder - in four seasons he’s played just 41 games. His most productive season was his rookie year in 2018, where he finished with 12 sacks in 16 games. The only other season where he played in more than eight games was 2020 and he notched 7.5 sacks.
The Broncos signed Randy Gregory this offseason and also drafted a pass rush specialist in Nik Bonnito (2nd round), so Denver has options if they decide to move on from Chubb.
One downside to this move would be that Chubb is entering a contract year, but if successful the Rams could either sign him to a long-term deal, franchise tag him, or allow him to leave in free agency with the expectation they will receive significant return capital in the form of a compensatory draft pick.