With 3.5 sacks in the last two games, including 1.5 in the L.A. Rams win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, rookie defensive tackle Kobie Turner was quickly turned around his season from a good one to potentially a great one with five contests left to go. If Turner gets four more sacks in the next five games, he will surpass Aaron Donald’s rookie total of nine sacks in 2014, the modern franchise record for a first-year player.
Deacon Jones unofficially had 9.5 sacks with the Rams in 1961, so Turner could tie that mark with four or pass it with 4.5 and become the first player in franchise history with a double-digit sack season as a rookie. The unofficial rookie record for sacks by a defensive tackle is 11, set by Vikings’ Keith Millard in 1985. But that’s not all.
Rams rookie Kobie Turner comes up with the big third down sack. Quickness and hustle stand out each week with him.— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) December 4, 2023
The third-round pick out of Wake Forest has been one of the most underrated rookies this season. pic.twitter.com/EgBqxNmBIt
With 5.5 sacks this season, Kobie Turner is barely behind Aaron Donald, who has 6.0 sacks in 2023. No defensive line teammate of Donald’s has finished a season with more sacks than him since Robert Quinn had 10.5 to his 9 in his 2014 rookie campaign. Since then, Donald has led the Rams in sacks in every season except 2022, when he missed six games and finished with five sacks, only trailing Leonard Floyd’s nine and Bobby Wagner’s six, but they both played in 17 games. And are not really “defensive linemen”.
However, there’s something different about the players surrounding Donald this year and it’s not because AD has lost a step. Donald continues to be one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the NFL, as his 21 QB hits and 13 tackles for a loss ranks in the top-10 and we saw him take over Sunday’s win over the Browns, but the young players around him are doing more than just benefiting from his double and triple-teams.
NFL Rookie Sack Leaders— ( - ) (@_SC00T) December 4, 2023
1) Kobie Turner (5.5)
T-2nd) Byron Young (5) pic.twitter.com/4vphyFxhxi
Donald has 6.0 sacks, Turner has 5.5 sacks, Byron Young has 5.0 sacks, and Michael Hoecht has 4.5 sacks. They are closely bunched together and bring different skillsets to L.A.’s defense, and even if none of them will have the career of Aaron Donald, that is not expected of any player. What the Rams were hoping to find this year, as opposed to last season when Donald was out, is a collection of young front-seven players who can keep the fort together when the future Hall of Famer’s career is over.
Kobie Turner could be, if nothing else, the best defensive tackle that the L.A. Rams have drafted in a very long time, if not since Donald.
In the last five games, Turner has 4.5 sacks, 5 tackles for a loss, 6 QB hits, and 26 tackles. In the last four games, the Rams defense has only allowed 20, 16, 14, and 19 points, respectively. And still on deck for the Rams are matchups against several teams that are among the worst in the league at protecting the quarterback, including the Washington Commanders and New York Giants.
Kobie may not break Donald’s record. He could shatter it.