3 players the Rams should sign who could fill their remaining needs

Los Angeles Rams Kobie Turner, Ernest Jones, Byron Young
Los Angeles Rams Kobie Turner, Ernest Jones, Byron Young / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The LA Rams are gearing up for the 2024 NFL Draft, and with 11 picks at their disposal and four of those picks falling within the Top-100 selections, it seems like forever since the team entered the 2022 NFL Draft without a single pick among the Top 100 picks. Yet, even in the 2022 NFL Draft, the team managed to restock the secondary as well as emerge with one of the best running backs in the NFL in versatile RB Kyren Williams.

But even with omniscience, the Rams are still subject to the whims of every NFL team scheduled to make a selection in the draft before they do. That is why this team is so secretive about their pre-draft visits. That is why the team seldom addresses specific college prospects in any off-season discussions.

They do not enjoy pouring hundreds of hours setting up their draft board to ruin everything with one casual comment.

But the front office has to be prepared for the worst-case scenario as well. Just as some teams who want to draft a top quarterback in this draft has a veteran quarterback's phone number on speed dial just in case, the Rams have to be willing to pull the trigger on a Plan B veteran in this draft.

Coincidentally, we have done the heavy lifting for them:

Option III: DT Hassan Ridgeway

While no Pro Bowler, veteran defensive tackle Hasan Ridgeway has enough NFL experience after eight NFL seasons to be a solid source of leadership for the young defense. A career rotational pl,ayers, Ridgeway has appeared in 80 NFL games with just 20 starts. But that fits the purchase order description for the roster right now.

Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing a burly 305 pounds, the team needs someone who can rotate in, knows the NFL, and who can serve as the mentor for young players who will surely flood training camp once more. Ridgeway was a sloppy tackler in his first two NFL seasons, but has cleaned that up to only miss two tackles over his last four NFL seasons.

Ridgeway has a sneaky good pass rush as an interior defensive lineman, and is versatile enough to play at either the 1-tech or 3-tech spot for the Rams. He suffered an Achilles Tendon injury in 2023, which is why he is still available. But if the Rams cannot find the right rookie prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft, Ridgeway could be the right answer for a rotational role on this defense.

Option II: LB Shaquille Leonard

Shaquille Leonard is a former All-Pro outside linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts who put up 163 tackles and 7.0 quarterback sacks in one season. But after a series of devastating injuries in 2022, he was not quite himself in 2023

"Leonard underwent back surgery in the 2022 offseason to correct a nagging injury. He missed the opening of the 2022 season, suffered a concussion and broken nose in his first game back, and eventually reinjured his back, forcing him to miss the end of the season. Leonard played in just three games last season."

NFL writer Ken Patra

Leonard wants to play football. The problem right now is that he was shocked after being released by the Indianapolis Colts, and never really found a home in his short stint in 2023 with the Philadelphia Eagles:

We know that the LA Rams is the right culture that can restore a veteran's passion for the game of football, and that appears to be just what Shaquille Leonard needs right now. And the defense needs a veteran who can complement starting ILB Ernest Jones with the ability to cover sideline to sideline and still crack the pads on any ball carrier who enters the vicinity.

Leonard played in 14 games between the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts in 2023. During that time, he only allowed 19 catches out of 29 targets. If nothing else, he is a huge upgrade in pass coverage over the middle for the Rams defense next to Jones.

OLB Carl Lawson

He is coming off a 7.0 sack season in 2022, but a series of injuries derailed his 2023 performance for the New York Jets. He was a healthy scratch for two games, a situation that did not sit well with the six-year NFL veteran. As such, he told ESPN reporter Rich Cimini that he was open to being traded:

"I definitely want to play and contribute. I know I can. I have proven that. Yeah, I always want to contribute, but right now I am with the Jets, but I definitely want to play more. I definitely want to do what I did last year [seven sacks]. ... I am a football player, not a cheerleader."

OLB Carl Lawson

A year after putting up 7.0 quarterback sacks and 33 tackles on 663 defensive snaps, Lawson competed in 101 defensive snaps for just five tackles in six games. 2023 was the only season Lawson did not record a single quarterback sack.

If you have have ever driven late at night and then decided to look for a motel to stay for the rest of the night, you know that you have limited choices for vacancies. That is where the LA Rams front office finds itself right now. There simply are not many 5-star choices remaining in the NFL Free Agency market at positions of need for this team.

That is not to say that giving an opportunity to a passionate veteran is doomed to fail. The team found several bargains by employing that strategy in 2023. These are three motivated veterans who want to reclaim the respect due them. I believe the Rams would be wise to give them that chance.