St. Louis Rams End-Of-The-Year Positional Rankings: Defense

Dec 22, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins (21) deflects the ball from Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Tom Crabtree (84) in the end zone during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

 

Yesterday on Ramblin’ Fan, we ranked the top graded players on the St. Louis Rams offense, courtesy of the figures at Pro Football Focus. Now, we are going to focus on the defensive side of the football, where speed and depth were the keys to success this season. Depending on the metric you use for ranking your defenses, the Rams likely finished the season somewhere in the middle-tier of teams. So, who were the best at their individual positions this season?

Defensive Line

1. Robert Quinn (+77.2; 1st overall)

2. William Hayes (+11.5; 11th overall)

3. Kendall Langford (+2.6; 39th overall)

Not only was Robert Quinn the highest graded player on the St. Louis Rams, he topped all 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL, and finished the year with the 2nd-highest overall grade at any position. The rest of the defensive line graded out relatively high as well, especially if their “role” on the team is taken into consideration. For example, Kendall Langford ranked 11th overall among defensive tackles against the run, while Chris Long ranked 7th overall among 4-3 defensive ends as a pass rusher. The Rams rotated their entire defensive line more than any other team in the NFL, so it is impressive to see such high marks from a variety of positions.

 

Linebacker

1. Alec Ogletree (-4.2; 13th overall)

2. James Laurinaitis (-8.7; 20th overall)

3. Jo-Lonn Dunbar (-9.5; did not meet snap requirement)

If there is one bias in Pro Football Focus’ grading, it is against the 4-3, traditional linebackers. In fact, there are only three 4-3 outside linebackers that 1) played 50+% of the teams snaps and 2) were graded +10.0 on the season (Lavonte David, Thomas Davis, and Vontaze Burfict), all of which are in the Pro Bowl, got snubbed from the Pro Bowl, and/or a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

Alec Ogletree was as productive as any outside linebacker this season, and was one of only 12 outside linebackers that were on the field on, at least, 75% of their team’s total defensive snaps. Moreover, “the Tree” was the definition of playmaker on the defensive side of the football, finishing the season 3rd overall in forced fumbles and returning his lone interception for a 98-yard touchdown. James Laurinaitis also had a productive season, finishing Top 10 among inside linebackers in solo tackles and pass deflections, recording a career-high four sacks, and was one of only two players in the NFL to play 75% of snaps and not allow a touchdown in coverage all season.

 

Secondary

1. Janoris Jenkins (-0.9; 26th overall

2. Darian Stewart (-1.0; did not meet snap requirement)

3. Trumaine Johnson (-3.0; 30th overall)

The St. Louis Rams’ secondary continued to be the lone “weakpoint” in the defense, marred by extreme youth, lack of depth on the outside,  and a handful of notable injuries throughout the season. However, the less-than-stellar grading of both corners is not surprising, especially given the “soft zone” issue that St. Louis dealt with for much of the year. When in man-to-man coverage, the two corners truly shined, including some monster “lock downs” against several of the top receiving corps in the NFL. Against the Bear, the duo allowed only four catches for 32 yards to Brandon Marshall and one catch for 10 yards to Alshon Jeffery. Against Arizona (Week 1), they allowed only three catches for 21 yards to Larry Fitzgerald, and gave up only eight more yards in the their Week 14 bout. The real questions still resides in the “deep” secondary, with Rodney McLeod and Darian Stewart likely not showing enough to maintain a starting role opposite T.J. McDonald in 2014.

Topics: St. Louis Rams

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  • Gary Stewart

    a safety is on the horizon we needed to draft 2 safeties last year and only got one and he played like 7-8 games (tj) lets deal with it this offseason and if the deep corner class forces us to take corners and dix isnt avail get corners and move trumaine to safety i believe he could be a pretty good deep cover safety if need be

    • ricdram

      I’m on the fence regarding drafting a Safety.
      Cody Davis & Matt Danniels(before injury)
      have potential. The D can improve dramatically
      by firing Tim Walton(Fisher failed with that hire).
      Drafting a CB is a more pressing issue after the
      Finnegans demise. Les Snead needs to come
      up with a good plan. I’m counting on him.

      • Gary Stewart

        ric, i like you feel we need corners but the draft is deep at corner there is really only 1 virtual cant miss safety haha clinton dix so unless he is gone we have to take him. the guys with potential are great but let them beat out dix last year i like you kept saying darian was gonna get better and had potential unfortunately potential isnt enough in this division and our corners were forced to play safe because we couldnt count on safety help in case you didnt see it the defense got better when tj came back now lets get him dix and draft in the 2-3-4 rds to get corners

        • ricdram

          You make a good case Gary. Hopefully
          Fisher,Snead & our Scoutting Dept. will
          make the best possible picks. Finishing
          last in our Division is unacceptable.
          ” LOL ” we didn’t want to play in the
          cold on Feb.2nd in NY anyway ! Later.

          • Gary Stewart

            i have to admit i saw an instance where i would have passed on haha dix ( of course it wont happen) i saw a mock draft where anthony barr was mocked at 17th to the cowboys i blogged that if a top 5 pick was there at 13 and the rams didnt take him the ram fans would revolt i was mocking him to us with our first pick if we traded down a bit this kid would be a great replacement for dunbar