2023 LA Rams roster breakdown, shockingly thin at some positions

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams News Rams Roster Aaron Donald
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Defense line of scrimmage positions

While the LA Rams pass rush has been a topic of hot debate since the 2022 offseason, the LA Rams put up a solid showing in terms of stuffing the run, particularly in contrast to so many NFL defenses getting gashed by runners this past season. The reason is that too many defenses have overemphasized the pass rush, and that has allowed their defenses to give up big gains.

But that does not get the Rams off the hook for generating a more consistent and dangerous pass rush. Let’s look at the Rams’ defensive line of scrimmage depth:

Outside linebacker (5): The LA Rams got busy near the end of the season. After releasing veterans Terrell Lewis and Justin Hollins, the team promoted rookies Daniel Hardy, Braydon Thomas, and Keir Thomas to line up with veteran OLB Leonard Floyd. The team also added Zach VanValkenburg, a young player who I’m eager to see develop.
The lone player on an expiring contract is DL/OLB Michael Hoecht. I don’t see how the LA Rams let him walk, as he cross-trained to the outside linebacker position in mid-season, and then proceeded to outperform everyone at the position up to and after that point on the team with the exception of Leonard Floyd. I think the Rams could try to draft a starter, but if none are on the board, the Rams will look at Day 3 to add roster depth.
Status: Extend Michael Hoecht

Defensive linemen (6): The LA Rams’ defensive front seemed a bit shallow until the final month of the season. The Rams project to have Aaron Donald, Jonah Williams, Earnest Brown IV, Bobby Brown III, Larrell Murchison, and T.J. Carter on the defensive line in 2023. Three key veterans are on expiring contracts, and they are: A’Shawn Robinson, Greg Gaines, and Marquise Copeland. Copeland is projected to be an ERFA in 2023, which makes his price too attractive to pass up. But what of Gaines and Robinson?
The 2023 NFL Draft is expected to have many talented IDL prospects, but the 2023 offseason could emphasize those defensive linemen who gobble blockers, and both Gaines and Robinson excel in that role. In the end, I fear that the market will bid for Gaines out of the Rams’ price range. On the flip side, A’Shawn Robinson loves the Rams’ culture, and I believe he may be willing to give the Rams a hometown discount to stay.
Status: Extend Marquise Copeland and extend A’Shawn Robinson on a team-friendly contract.

Inside linebacker (3): The LA Rams certainly upgraded their inside linebacker play in 2022. With the arrival of inside linebacker Bobby Wagner and the growth of Ernest Jones, the position was arguably the most productive and dependable of the LA Rams team. Add Jake Hummel, and you’ve rounded out the players who will be back in 2023. The Rams have two players who are on expiring contracts, ILB Christian Rozeboom and Travin Howard, both players are projected to be ERFAs. In my opinion, any player who can be signed for the cost of an ERFA should be re-signed. The Rams may wish to add a rookie to the roster in 2023, but the roster is as strong as it’s ever been at ILB since HC Sean McVay has taken over the reins of the team.
Status: Extend Christian Rozeboom and Travin Howard