LA Rams rookie Elijah Garcia could be the next big thing on the DL

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 4
LA Rams Roster Elijah Garcia
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Niche role

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.