For the first five years of his tenure as head coach, Sean McVay never seemed to press Les Snead for more help at inside linebacker. The Rams were fine with rolling out Troy Reeder, Kenny Young, and Ernest Jones to start out 2021’s Super Bowl season and that was enough to get by and win the Lombardi.
Which is what made it all the weirder that L.A.’s answer to losing Von Miller was to sign Bobby Wagner in free agency.
Though Wagner proved to be the Rams’ best defensive asset last season, was it worth the investment just to cut him one year into a five-year deal? Won’t L.A. go right back to ignoring the position given so many other pressing needs? Some cite Jones as the defense’s second-best player.
Repeat: Ernest Jones is the Rams’ second-best defensive player.
How does that compare to the rest of the NFC after most of free agency has passed and with the draft less than three weeks away?
So far, we have compared the L.A.’s safeties and cornerbacks to the rest of the conference, with 55% of Rams fans voting that the corners rank in the bottom-three, and 59% of Rams fans voting that the safeties are in the bottom-three. Where will inside and off-ball linebackers rank? This is a tricky position because defenses will have different preferences for playing time, but everyone’s got at least one right? I’ll do my best to be fair.
New Player in 2023
2021 or 2022 FIRST, SECOND, OR THIRD ROUND PICK
*2021 or 2022 Pro Bowl
I will list defensive coordinator in parentheses, then which first round pick(s) that team has this year
49ers (Steve Wilks) - Fred Warner*, Dre Greenlaw (First round pick: None)
Bucs (Kacy Rodgers/Larry Foote) - Devin White*, Lavonte David (First round pick: 19)
Saints (Joe Woods) - Demario Davis*, PETE WERNER (First round pick: 29)
Bears (Alan Williams) - Tremaine Edmunds, T.J. Edwards, Jack Sanborn (First round pick: 9)
Panthers (Ejiro Evero) - Frankie Luvu, Shaq Thompson (First round pick: 1)
Packers (Joe Barry) - De’Vondre Campbell, QUAY WALKER (First round pick: 15)
Eagles (Sean Desai) - NAKOBE DEAN, Nicholas Morrow, Shaun Bradley (First round picks: 10, 30)
Commanders (Jack Del Rio) - JAMIN DAVIS, Cody Barton, Khaleke Hudson (First round pick: 16)
Seahawks (Clint Hurtt) - Bobby Wagner*, Devin Bush, Jordyn Brooks (First round picks: 5, 20)
Giants (Wink Martindale) - Jarrad Davis, Bobby Okereke, Micah McFadden (First round pick: 25)
Vikings (Brian Flores) - Jordan Hicks, Brian Asamoah (First round pick: 23)
Cowboys (Dan Quinn) - Leighton Vander Esch, Damone Clark, Jabril Cox (First round pick: 26)
Cardinals (Nick Rallis) - ZAVEN COLLINS, Kyzir White (First round pick: 3)
Lions (Aaron Glenn) - Malcolm Rodriguez, Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes (First round picks: 6, 18)
Falcons (Ryan Nielsen) - Mykal Walker, TROY ANDERSEN (First round pick: 8)
Now without ranking them, let’s look at the Rams linebackers unit:
Rams (Raheem Morris) - ERNEST JONES, Christian Rozeboom (First round pick: None)
- If anyone has issue with any order here, please let me know because I realize these are open to interpretation. It’s really just hard to argue against some elite linebackers and units here, like Fred Warner, Demario Davis, White and David, and notable recent first and second round picks make for potential players on the rise in 2023.
- Wagner returned to the Seahawks and they also signed former top-10 pick Devin Bush, although the Steelers seemed happy to watch him leave. Jordyn Brooks will miss at least half of the season after tearing his ACL late in the year.
- Though Micah Parsons is an inside linebacker, he really doesn’t belong in this group. Will talk about him among the pass rushers.
- The Bears are attempting to overhaul one of the worst ILB groups to become one of the best after signing Edmunds and Edwards to contracts of $72 million and $19 million.
Ernest Jones appeared in all 17 games and made over 100 tackles, but was not a full-time player for Raheem Morris in his second season. In fact, he appeared in only about 55% of the snaps in the last four weeks, so has even earned a starting role in year three? I would say no.
Then there’s Rozeboom, who played in seven defensive snaps and 373 special teams snaps last year, and Jake Hummel.
In the NFC West, other teams have Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Bobby Wagner, Devin Bush, Jordyn Brooks, Zaven Collins (a recent first round pick who has not yet found his footing) and Kyzir White. Interesting.
How do Rams LBs rank in NFC?
This poll is closed