LA Rams need whatever OLB Terrell Lewis can deliver this year
By Bret Stuter
When the LA Rams chose Alabama outside linebacker Terrell Lews with the 84th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, they were taking a pretty risky gamble that the medical flags that scared other teams off were too conservative. What can I say? I, like many of the fans of the LA Rams, loved the pick. If healthy, he had a first-round grade. If unhealthy, he was a deep risk with just a part-time NFL future. I believed he could pull it all together. When he’s healthy, he can certainly be a dominating force to be reckoned with.
In his rookie NFL season, the Rams played 18 games, but the lofty-ceiling edge rusher suited up for just nine of those games. He was on the field for just 124 defensive snaps or just over 12 percent of the defensive workload. Even with that light work, he managed to record five tackles and two quarterback sacks. In fact, he flashed some promise by getting to the quarterback often enough, even as a rookie. He recorded two quarterback knockdowns and pressured the quarterback four times.
Durability. It’s the single most important quality of any NFL player. Well, durability and availability. That is so true when it comes to Lewis.
Take whatever Lewis can give
The LA Rams lost some veterans who were significant contributors to putting pressure and sacks on the quarterback in 2020. Gone are DL Michael Brockers, DE Morgan Fox, and OLB Samson Ebukam. They accounted for 15.5 quarterback sacks, and 109 tackles. Someone has to step up for the team in 2021. Terrell Lewis could be that someone.
And before it appears as though I am singling out one defensive player, outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was a reserve who only deliver 10 games to the Rams defense in 2020. So it’s not on Lewis. But to be truthful, I would like nothing better than witnessing 17 games out of Terrell Lewis for the 2021 NFL season. I think if he can stay healthy, he will be something special. But staying healthy? That’s where it gets a bit dicey.
Keep in mind that Lewis ended the 2020 season with an ankle injury. So the positive takeaway is that it was not an old knew injury flaring up again.
Rams banking on returning players to step up
The team didn’t exactly pile on the talent at the edge position in this offseason. The roster was boosted by two rookies: Chris Garrett and Max Roberts. Although there is reason enough for optimism regarding the two rookie additions, the team is in a bit of a pinch over who will start the season opposite Leonard Floyd.
If Terrell Lewis is healthy enough to do so, that gives this defense a completely different look than if he is not on the field. What will Lewis deliver in terms of defensive snaps in 2021? Whatever the number, the Rams will need all of it. Lewis has the potential to change the course of the Rams defense, and in doing so, the course of the Rams team, if he plays to his full potential in 2021.
But whatever he can muster, the Rams will take it.