4 ways the Rams can fix their edge rusher problem
At this point, Los Angeles Rams fans have caught a glimpse of what the depth chart of the defensive front looks like outside of Aaron Donald. Following the release of Leonard Floyd this offseason, the Rams have a career total of 4.5 sacks from their current edge rushers on the roster (yes, you read that right).
All 4.5 of those sacks come from Michael Hoecht a season ago, who made the switch from interior defender to edge defender during the 2022 season due to the team’s lack of depth off of the edge. The other three edge rushers on the current roster are Keir Thomas, Daniel Hardy, and Zach VanValkenburg.
Even though the edge-rushing unit leaves a lot to be desired right now, the Rams still have time to address the position in free agency and the 2023 NFL draft. While it won’t happen overnight, let’s take a look at how the Rams can fix their edge rusher problem ahead of the 2023 campaign.
Take an edge rusher early in the draft
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Rams currently won’t be making their first selection in the 2023 NFL draft until pick No. 36. Upon trading Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins, the Rams also now have three picks in the top 77, giving them an ample amount of opportunities to take an edge rusher early.
There are plenty of incoming edge rushers that would make sense for the Rams if they’re available at the 36th overall pick, including Nolan Smith, B.J. Ojulari, Will McDonald IV, and Felix Anudike-Uzomah.
Other edge rushers that should pique the interest of the Rams early in the draft are Isaiah Foskey, Derick Hall, and Adetomiwa Adebawore. Getting at least one of these young pass rushers would give the Rams long-term potential off of the edge.
Sign a veteran (or veterans) on short-term deal
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
A combination of taking an edge rusher early in the draft and signing at least one of the veteran pass rushers that are still available in free agency would be the ideal strategy. Aside from Floyd, the list of remaining veteran edge rushers in free agency includes Jadeveon Clowney, Yannick Ngakoue, Melvin Ingram, Justin Houston, and Markus Golden.
There is also a chance that more veterans become available later in the offseason with teams looking to create more cap space post-June 1st. While the Rams are seemingly looking toward the future, signing at least one of these guys to a one-year deal would be beneficial for the defensive front.
Address the interior defensive line
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Common sense says that the Rams are going to address the edge rusher position one way or another. Besides adding an edge rusher (or edge rushers), the Rams would be wise to invest in some interior help for Donald, especially after the departure of Greg Gaines in free agency.
Finding guys that can generate pressure from the interior can result in more production from the edge rushers next season. The interior defenders that would make sense for the Rams are Matt Ioannidis, Chris Wormley, and Quinton Jefferson (among others).
Make a trade
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
This is the Rams’ “break in case of emergency” ploy if they are desperate to acquire a proven edge defender. Let me preface this by saying that this is the most unlikely outcome with the Rams seemingly changing their aggressive approach under Sean McVay entering the 2023 season.
That being said, there are edge rushers like Brian Burns and Montez Sweat that would cost premium draft capital, though, they give the team a long-term plan in the pass-rushing department. There is also a veteran like Jerry Hughes that wouldn’t cost much in terms of a draft pick, but he’d be more of a short-term solution.