LA Rams get OLB Chris Garrett back in time for Sunday slobberknocker

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

LA Rams rookie outside linebacker Chris Garrett was quite the play-maker in college football, exhibiting the type of production off the edge that simply appeared too good to be true. Well, that apparently was the sentiment by NFL general managers in the 2021 NFL Draft, because despite having historically elite production in college football, most teams simply passed him right on by.

The LA Rams did as well, passing him right on by eight times. But with their ninth and final pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the 252nd over, the Rams took a chance on the NCAA sack master from Concordia-St. Paul.

Rookies drafted that late in the draft frequently must prove themselves with a year or two on special teams, if they even make an NFL roster. But the LA Rams suddenly found themselves a bit light off the edge.

Players falling off the edge

Veteran OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo suffered a stinger, and was moved to the LA Rams injured reserve list for a minimum of three weeks, where he remains. OLB Terrell Lewis, still suffering from lingering knee issues, has become a day-by-day situation for the team.

In week two, we have since learned that veteran Leonard Floyd is suffering an ankle injury, and did not practice to Tuesday. Practice squad edge rusher, Justin Lawler, suffered a broken hand but could play in a cast in an emergency. The catch? The LA Rams have already activated him twice to the active roster. To add him to the active roster any longer, the Rams will need to take other steps.

Garrett’s return is crucial for the team

So as of this morning, the LA Rams have Justin Hollins, and rookie Chris Garrett who was activated off the team’s COVID/reserve list. So what can he do?  Let’s think about that a minute.

As a rookie, Chris Garrett went from preseason to quarantine, so the jury is absolutely still out on the young man as he was competing against other young men who were fighting for a roster position as well. But his performance against the Las Vegas Raiders flashed the brilliance of a player who truly has serious NFL upside in him.  Even more promising, he did it all without benefit of playing next to Aaron Donald.

Perfect partner to All-Pro Donald

We had asserted that Chris Garrett would be an ideal partner in a pass rush alongside the LA Rams All-Pro Aaron Donald. Now, we will get to put that theory to the test. You see, one of the challenges of anyone rushing the quarterback with Aaron Donald is the challenge of keeping up with the guy. His pass rush, even when facing multiple blockers, is lightning fast, so fast that he can often get to the quarterback before he’s had the chance to read his progressions.

Garrett can be just as quick to the quarterback. If he can exert that speed against offensive lines going forward, they will be forced to divide their attention to protect against the rumbling rhino in Aaron Donald, or to swat at that fleeting bat that is screaming in from the other direction in Chris Garrett.

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Even so, it’s a tall order to lay at the feet of a late round NFL rookie who has been quarantined for several weeks. On the other hand, Garrett has a way of exceeding expectations. The LA Rams are getting OLB Chris Garrett back in time for Sunday’s slobber-knocker. Maybe it’s more than coincidence.