The Los Angeles Rams’ success or failure in 2023 won’t be decided by how many Pro Bowl players they have. But it’ll be a good sign for them if they’re able to send at least a couple of guys to the Pro Bowl this season.
The following four players have never made the Pro Bowl before but they all have a shot to be first-time selections if they play well enough this season.
CB Cobie Durant
Durant was active for 13 games as a rookie last year but he only played defensive snaps in seven of them. Yet, he still picked off three passes and returned them for a total of 151 yards, the most of any player in the NFL. One of them was a pick-six, too.
Durant obviously wasn’t in contention for a Pro Bowl spot last year but if he plays like that in a full season, he’s going to get serious consideration – regardless of how the rest of the defense performs.
With Jalen Ramsey gone, Durant is going to play a lot of snaps this season, particularly in the slot. That’ll give him a chance to rack up tackles, nab a few sacks and pick off a handful of passes like he did last year.
S John Johnson III
Johnson never made the Pro Bowl despite playing some high-level football during his four years with the Rams, recording 100-plus tackles twice with eight total interceptions – four of which came in 2018. He was one of the most underrated safeties in the league throughout his Rams tenure and he’ll have another chance to prove himself in 2023.
It’ll be a challenge for Johnson to make the Pro Bowl this year but he’s one of the team’s better defenders and should play a lot of snaps alongside Jordan Fuller. If Los Angeles’ defense turns out better than expected, Johnson will likely be a big reason for that.
LB Ernest Jones
Jones is finally the guy at linebacker in his third season after playing no more than two-thirds of the defensive snaps in either of his first two seasons. He’s going to be the signal caller, which means he’ll be on the field for every defensive play (barring injury).
A well-rounded linebacker, Jones can cover, tackle and also rush the passer – which he expects to do a little bit more of this year. That should help pad his stats and strengthen his case for the Pro Bowl at a position that’s incredibly important for the Rams.
RB Cam Akers
Even though the Rams have gotten a lot of production out of backup running backs in the past, Sean McVay likes having a workhorse. He loved utilizing Todd Gurley heavily in the offense from 2017-2019 and we could see Akers get a similar treatment this year – just not as much as a receiver.
With as reliant the Rams will be on their offense to win games this season, Akers may be a featured player on that side of the ball. Kyren Williams isn’t a three-down back and Zach Evans didn’t show enough in the preseason to push Akers for snaps, so for now, it’s No. 3’s backfield.