7 Rams whose reputations are on the line over the 2024 defense

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams defense
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams defense / Ryan Kang/GettyImages
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2: NT Kobie Turner

The LA Rams needed to find a robustly productive defensive lineman in the 2023 NFL Draft, and beat even those lofty expectations by selecting NT Kobie Turner with the 89th overall pick. Turner proved to be an incredibly versatile defender, capable of playing the 1-tech or 3-tech roles in this defense, but doing so at a level that surprised everyone.

By season's end, 'The Conductor' has amassed 57 tackles, 9.0 quarterback sacks (tops among all 2023 rookies), eight tackles for a loss, 16 quarterback hits and 20 quarterback pressures. And he did all of that on just 697 defensive snaps. If I had to bet on why Aaron Donald chose to retire, I would put my money on the fact that Turner's rookie season was so spectacular that Donald realized that he was leaving the team in capable hands.

But are they? I think so. Turner was only on the football field for 62 percent of the time. Even if he does not improve his technique and efficiency, his production will increase simply by giving him more work. But I see Turner as having a monster season in 2024. Now, we simply have to sit back and let him prove it to the entire NFL.

1: ILB Ernest Jones

Looking back over the career of veteran inside linebacker Ernest Jones, everything about his career seems to have been leading him into the leadership role for this defense in 2024. The guy has lined up alongside veterans at outside linebacker Von Miller and Leonard Floyd, behind Aaron Donald, Greg Gaines and Kobie Turner, alongside ILB Bobby Wagner, and in front of DBs Ahkello Witherspoon and Jalen Ramsey.

All the while, Ernest Jones has kept great company, he has held up his end on the football field. Now, he truly gets to test all that he has learned as he is the uncontested leader of this defense. And I state with confidence that he is ready for the test.

In 2023, he recorded 145 tackles, 4.5 quarterback sacks, broke up six passes, recorded 14 tackles for a loss, and allowed just 34 of 48 passes to find their mark (70.8 completion rate). And he accomplished all of that despite missing two games.

Jones is the leader of this Rams defense going forward. And it is his resolve and toughness that gives the defensive side of the football its determination. The Rams have areas to improve, but this is a tough team that competes on every play. While the team can no longer count on heroics from Aaron Donald to save the day, I would not be too quick to count them out. Ernest Jones has dramatically improved each season for the past three seasons, and there is no reason to believe that will not be the case in 2024.

After all, this is Ernest Jones' defense this year. I believe he will earn a lot of respect.