Each NFL team’s goal when facing losing players to NFL Free Agency is to have a logical back-up ready to promote into a starting role for the team. While that is the best case scenario, it may not prove true foe the Rams at edge rusher in 2020.
More from Ramblin' Fan
- NFL Trade Rumors: Would Rams trade for Jonathon Taylor?
- Look for 49ers players to follow DeMeco Ryans to Texans
- Ryans to the Texans, will Rams Raheem Morris be next?
- Broncos mimic LA Rams, go All-In pairing Payton with Russell
- Need a new Los Angeles Rams hat for less than $10?
That is not to say that the LA Rams did not have sufficient time to prepare. From the moment the Rams traded for Dante Fowler Jr., the front office had to begin the succession plan of “who takes over at OLB next?” That would have proven to be doubly important for the Rams after signing Fowler to a one-year extension in 2019. With that in mind, the starting edge rusher position for 2020 will likely fall to the competition between either Justin Lawler or Samson Ebukam.
DE/OLB Justin Lawler is a massive presence on the outside for the Rams. He stands 6-foot-4 and tips the scale at 265 pounds. A seventh round pick in 2018, Lawler was on track for significant playing time in 2019, he suffered a foot injury early in 2019 which derailed his opportunity. Now, he is returning to health just in time to compete for a starting role at outside linebacker.
Of course, he’ll face stiff competition from OLB Samson Ebukam. Ebukam was a 2017 fourth round pick by the Rams, and has grown into an ever increasing role on the defense. Ebukam stands 6-foot-3 and weighs in at 245 pounds. He started five games for the Rams in 2019, and played in 51 percent of the defensive snaps. He accounted for 47 tackles, four passes defended, and five stuffs in 2019. He blitzed 57 times, coming away with five hurries, five knockdowns, 4.5 sacks, and 15 pressures.
However the Rams address the starting edge rusher, there are upsides and downsides. The team has many many options to sort through. In the end, it would be wrong to judge individual moves by the team this offseason with so many moving and interrelated parts. By the time the team settles into preseason, we believe the Rams will field a very competitive team.