Who will step up on the LA Rams defensive line in 2022?

Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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There are no bones about it, the LA Rams starting three defensive linemen are perhaps the best defensive line unit in the NFL. The dissimilar but complementary talents of All-Pro Aaron Donald, nose tackle Greg Gaines, and versatile veteran A’Shawn Robinson. Not only do they work very well together, but their physicality sets the stage for their teammates to make plays off the edge and throughout the game at the inside linebacker position. Just how good are they?

Pretty good it seems.

They did not just ‘happen.’  This is a group that has trained together, fought together, and been assembled to make the best defensive line in the NFL. This is a group that feasts on adversity, that plays to become their best version of themselves, and that trusts their defensive line teammates to fill their roles as well.  It is the epitome of strength in numbers. The LA Rams three-man defensive front frequently faces overwhelming odds. Five, six, and at times even seven blockers on any given play.

LA Rams’ defensive line is outnumbered, but not outplayed

We often discuss the fact that All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald is double and triple-teamed on almost every play. But he is not alone. Each man on the Rams’ defensive front must be prepared to face two or three blockers on any given play.

A’Shawn Robinson and Greg Gaines are playing in the last year of their contract. So who is next in line on the depth chart?

It turns out that the LA Rams involved eight players over the course of the 2021 NFL season. With the loss of Sebastian Joseph Day to the LA Chargers, the team will need to work at least one new player into the rotation, and perhaps more.

  • Player                             Snaps     Tackles     Sacks     QB Hits Aaron Donald                1,041            84          12.5          25 Greg Gaines                      780             55            4.5          13 A’Shawn Robinson          516            67            2.0             2 Sebastian Joseph Day    341            38            3.0             5 Marquise Copeland         108            10            0.0             0 Michael Hoecht                110              7             0.0             0 Bobby Brown                      22              1             0.0              0 Jonah Williams                    96              5             0.0             0 Totals                               3,014        267           22.0          45

Defensive linemen Jonah Williams and Michael Hoecht are two players who saw plenty of action early in the 2021 NFL season. But it was Marquise Copeland who saw more action as the season progressed.

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So how will the 2022 NFL season play out? Well, there is plenty of intrigue and mystery unfolding at the defensive line. Whether or not the Rams will be successful in re-signing either Robinson, Gaines, or both, the team must be prepared for the chance that neither will be satisfied with the Rams’ budget and opt for more money elsewhere. So who ascends in the depth chart this season to take defensive snaps? We have three to discuss now, and we’ll save two more names for future articles: