How soon will the LA Rams target pass rushers in draft now?

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams Aaron Donald
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams Aaron Donald / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The LA Rams have a new void to fill. While we may or may not have been caught unawares, the Rams are now rumored to have known about All-Pro Aaron Donald's retirement since the end of the 2024 NFL Playoffs. With so much lead time, the Rams have had plenty of time to sort out the challenges that will surface if the unthinkable happens: What if Aaron Donald does retire?

That question should be posed about every elite player on an NFL team's roster. After all, age, mental fatigue, injury, or simply the desire to call it quits is an ever-present reality in the NFL. Each season, teams redirect limited financial resources to those players who they project as future NFL stars. Whether on their own terms of by way of an expired contracts, even the most outstanding players must face that someday when their NFL careers are solidly in the rear view mirror.

For Rams fans, the 2024 NFL season is already a bittersweet experience. The team has roared back from the depths of NFL insignificance. This is a team that burst back into the NFL Playoffs after falling to a record of 5-12. And yet, the thrill of competing in another run at a Super Bowl is mixed with the realization that this year, the team must do so without All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald. So what can the team do?

So far, the Rams have done all that they can to ease Aaron Donald's road to retirement. Now the team must pivot to ease the Rams roster to an NFL season without him.

There has been little activity on that front. The Rams front office has taken steps to reinforce multiple positions on the offensive side of the football, and even bolstered the team's secondary. But as far as reinforcing the pass rush, that appears to be an NFL Draft thing. So how quickly will the team select their new pass rushers?

While we know that the team would love to land a top talent at the position, the team had managed to reinforce the defensive front in the 2023 NFL Draft without the use of a Round 1 draft pick. The team opted to address the issue last year in Round 3, selecting a pair of rookies in OLB Byron Young and NT Kobie Turner who led the entire rookie class in quarterback sacks, combining for 17.0 sacks on the season.

The team holds four picks in the Top 100 selections this year, and I would be stupified if the front office does not add defensive front help with two of those picks. In our most recent mock draft, we demonstrated what that early investment into the defensive front might look like, selecting a top-tier pass rusher and defensive lineman right out of the gates.

Curiously, the Rams added the two best pass rushers from the 2023 NFL Draft by not listening to the consensus, and adding two players many believed would be available later in the draft. In the end, the Rams know what they are doing, and the results of last year's draft class is a prime example.

So who might the Rams select on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft? Here are some prime options:

  • Missouri Edge rusher Darious Robinson (6-foot-5, 285 pounds)
  • Alabama Edge rusher Chris Braswell (6-foot-3, 251 pounds)
  • Penn State Edge rusher Adisa Isaac (6-foot-3, 247 pounds)
  • Kansas Edge rusher Austin Booker (6-foot-4, 240 pounds)
  • Washington Edge rusher Bralen Trice (6-foot-4, 245 pounds)
  • Western Michigan Edge rusher Marshawn Kneeland (6-foot-3, 267 pounds)
  • UCLA Edge rusher Gabriel Murphy (6-foot-2, 247 pounds)
  • Utah Edge rusher Jonah Elliss (6-foot-2, 248 pounds)

It's not a matter of how quickly the team adds help to the defensive front as much as how effectively the team does so. In the end, there are plenty of passionate football prospects who would love a shot at playing in the Horns. If the Rams can score another pair of defenders who can put up 17.0 quarterback sacks in their rookie season, the team will have the inside track at the NFC West Division title, and a run at Super Bowl LIX.

Stay tuned, as this is all about to get very exciting.

And thanks for reading.