What Dominique Easley Offers to the Rams


On Tuesday, it was announced that former New England Patriots defensive tackle Dominique Easley had signed a one-year deal with the Rams, providing Los Angeles with their fifth former first round defensive lineman.

Easley is an eccentric oddity, a character that has been cast as a me-first individual since his days as a Florida Gator. As a member of the 2014 draft class, and one of my favorite prospects of said class, Easley was an incredible talent, and likely would’ve been taken higher than 29th had he not needed ACL surgery on both knees. He was an explosive defensive tackle, who, despite being undersized for the position (6’2″ 290), had a non-stop motor, swift first step, and refined hands that stayed active, could rip and slap when rushing the passer, and help him win with leverage. Despite his reported character concerns, he was also voted team captain. To put Easley’s first step into context, check out these images via @PP_Rich_Hill.

Easley’s time as a Patriot was limited to 22 games in two seasons due to continued injuries that saw him on the IR before the regular season had even been completed; he finished with 25 total tackles, three sacks, and an interception in New England. Once more, he never quit fit into the “Patriot Way” and continued to serve as a headache.

We are well aware of Jeff Fisher’s desire to bring along these so-called “character risks,” which for the most part, have worked out (see: Jenkins, Janoris; Fairley, Nick; Johnson, Trumaine; Olgetree, Alec). Easley provides depth along an already-talented Rams’ line, but, when healthy, figures to be more of a force next to Aaron Donald than Fairley was.

Against the run

Easley’s first step and use of his hands translated the next level as it should have, serving him well along the line: he lined up as a 0-, 3-, 5-, 6-Tech, and even in a Wide 9 alignment during his days at Florida where he was able to use the aforementioned traits to shoot gaps and play in the backfield.

(3-Tech; outside shade of guard)

(0-Tech; head up over center)

(5-Tech; 5 shade)

(6-Tech; was head up on tight end before he went in motion)

He played a similar role during his days in New England, while occasionally lining up as a nose tackle due to his athleticism and ability to, you guessed it, control gaps. What’s not lost in Easley’s scouting report is his outstanding motor and non-stop hustle, always looking to make a play. He moves well laterally, sheds blocks win a timely fashion, and can make plays all by himself; his ability to win with leverage also translated to the next level and served as a key facet of his game.

Against the pass

For all his success as a run stopper, Easley’s work as a pass rusher looks to be his greatest strength and something that will provide a boost to the Rams. He was graded by Pro Football Focus as a top five defensive tackle, using a production-per-snap measurement, despite seeing a lowly 427 snaps. Using that same metric, he was PFF’s second most productive pass rusher.

He can have an impact on the interior or widened out, utilizing his strength and quickness through the gaps to get the quarterback, provide pressure, and open up things for his teammates.

Here is a great example of Easley’s use of his hands that remain active and propel him to the quarterback just before his rush is about to stall. His quickness off the ball forces Khaled Holmes on his heels, allowing Easley to use his aforementioned rip move.

Finally, Easley is lined up as 0-Tech when he explodes off the ball and gets into the center with ease. Had he stuck with his early plan of bull rushing him into the quarterback a little longer, Easley might’ve better-executed his swim move. Regardless, he manages to walk the center back four yards- one of the nose tackle’s primary pass rushing objectives- and ends up in Ponder’s line of sight, which, coupled him getting his hands up, disrupts Ponder’s view. The interception is a testament to Easley’s hustle as he doesn’t give up once the ball is released; it’s one helluva play for a defensive lineman.

Despite Easley’s health issues over the years, it’s hard not to be excited about what he brings to the table. He is only 24 years old, and it appears his best football is ahead of him while playing on a line with Donald and Robert Quinn, who are expected to draw more double teams and defensive focus each week. Thus, Easley should undergo a seamless transition in Los Angeles.