LA Rams rookie Elijah Garcia could be the next big thing on the DL
By Bret Stuter
Okay, so let’s pause and consider what type of role is available this season? Barring any injuries, the LA Rams are set at defensive line starters, as Aaron Donald, Greg Gaines, and A’Shawn Robinson will bear the burden of most of the team’s defensive snaps.
With projections at approximately 1100 defensive snaps per defensive line position, how will the Rams distribute the workload? Let’s give a quick and dirty projection that the three DL starters will claim 2,475 defensive snaps (75 percent). So who grabs the other 825 defensive snaps? Let’s revisit the 2021 defensive line stats:
- 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
So where does Garcia fit in? I can see Marquise Copeland, Jonah Williams, and Michael Hoecht splitting 600 snaps between them. Give Bobby Brown 100 snaps in the last 10-11 games of the season. That puts 125 defensive snaps in play for Garcia. Too much or too little?
For an undrafted rookie, you may be of the opinion that he won’t see the football field in his first season. That’s not a bad view when you look back at the players who the LA Rams have onboarded, drafted or not, and witnessed how few saw the football field in their rookie season. Still, the LA Rams have a lot of pressure to deliver NFL-ready starters and rotational players for the 2023 NFL season. The team has four defensive linemen on expiring contracts. While some may be re-signed, there is little chance that the team will find the funds necessary to re-sign all four players.
So someone has to step up this year. To do that, they need playing time.