Jaw-dropping Rams defensive duo projected to top spots on All-Rookie team

Since hiring HC Sean McVay, the Rams have selected just once among the Top-40 picks of all previous drafts. This year, the team chose twice from the Top-40 picks.
Los Angeles Rams Kobie Turner, Ernest Jones, Byron Young
Los Angeles Rams Kobie Turner, Ernest Jones, Byron Young / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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The LA Rams certainly hit the jackpot in the 2023 NFL Draft by pairing outside linebacker Byron Young with nose tackle Kobie Turner. Not only did their immediate friendship mean that the two rookies had someone to help carry the load throughout a long 2023 NFL season, but the natural competitiveness between the teammates pushed one another to the head of their rookie class.

It was a classic tale of iron sharpens iron. But rather than the typical tale of defensive standout squaring off against an offensive standout, this was a story of the synergy that was created by the pairing up of two defensive players who organically forged a strong friendship and a friendly rivalry that would carry them both through the 2023 NFL season.

It was clear that the team's scouting department and draft vetting process felt that both former--Tennessee OLB Byron Young and former-Wake Forest defensive tackle were ideally suited to play for the Rams defense. But was the team THAT much better at identifying and selecting truly gifted NFL-ready talent?

76 rookie prospects heard their names called out before Byron Young. 88 rookie prospects heard their names called out before Kobie Turner. And yet, in hindsight, you could make an incredibly compelling argument that the team landed the top two defenders (at least in terms of the defensive front) from the 2023 rookie class.

While we have to assign partial credit to the team's vetting of rookies, and the inclusion of a prospect's passion for the game as a key and integral factor in that process, it's clear that the rookie journey for both Young and Turner transformed from a stress-filled pressure cooker of having to make an NFL team's roster into a friendly competition between two talented rookies over who could rack up more tackles and quarterback sacks.

And if that is truly a key to rookies success on the defensive front, can it be repeated?