Pro Football Focus Grading: Top St. Louis Rams Performers From Week 10


Nov 9, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) against Arizona Cardinals guard Ted Larsen (62) at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a wonderful defensive effort by the St. Louis Rams the Arizona Cardinals’ pressure on Austin Davis was too much to withstand on Sunday. Three costly turnovers in the fourth quarter turned a three-point deficit into a 31-14 blowout victory, sending the Rams to 3-6 on the season.

However, despite the final score, there were a number of units and a handful of individual performers that deserve some recognition. With that in mind, we turn our attention to Pro Football Focus, one of the most reputable sites for advanced statistics and player grading in the NFL.

Like with any semi-subjective form of analysis, the experts at the site are certainly not “perfect” in their weekly evaluations of players. However, taken with a grain of salt, their grades are about as close to “fair and objective” as you’ll find anywhere in the world of NFL personnel analysis.

So, using their Week 10 evaluations as a reasonable metric for performance, how did some of the “key” St. Louis Rams units do against the Cardinals?

Top Offensive “Skill” Player – None

During the Kansas City Chiefs blowout loss, it wasn’t surprising to see the St. Louis Rams offense “bottom out” in the weekly gradings. This week, there were a number of performers that stood out, but, for one reason or another, did not receive much love. Jared Cook managed 82 yards and touchdown on his two receptions. Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham both managed 3.0 yards per carry or better on the ground. Even Tavon Austin was impressive in his early touches. However, given the fourth quarter performance from Austin Davis, it is not that surprising that no one else on the offense got any respect…

Top Offensive Lineman – None

In fact, no lineman even ended with a non-significant positive grade. All negatives. If there is a positive note, Greg Robinson did not allow a sack versus Calais Campbell. So, there’s that.

Top Defensive Lineman – Aaron Donald (+4.2)

Once again, the should-be leading candidate for Defensive Rooke of the Year led the St. Louis Rams defensive linemen in the grades. Donald recorded five hurries, two tackles, and two defensive stops on Sunday, including another highlight reel tackle for loss. Not only was he the top defensive lineman for the Rams, he graded out No.2 overall among interior linemen in Week 10, and is currently ranked No.3 overall on the season. Khalil Mack is the only rookie with a higher overall grade on Pro Football Focus, but is doing it playing a “non-traditional” outside linebacker role that reduces his responsibilities to rushing into the backfield, regardless of pass or run. He has yet to hit home in the former, recording zero sacks in 251 pass rush attempts. However, as one would expect from a constantly blitzing linebacker, has been very successful in the latter; although he still trails Aaron Donald in tackles for loss. Should be in interesting race at the end of the year.

Top “Back-Seven” Player – T.J. McDonald (+4.8)

McDonald was the best player on the field yesterday for either team, including Patrick Peterson and his lucky interceptions on horrendous Austin Davis’ throws. With Gregg Williams regularly using three-safety sets, Mark Barron and T.J. McDonald essentially took turns playing the nickel-linebacker role. While Barron was impressive in that spot, McDonald was dominant, finishing with eight tackles, seven defensive stops, and one sack.