LA Rams can replace this veteran DL in Round 3 of the draft
By James Dudko
LA Rams defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson won't be back. While the hope of any remaining LA Rams free agent returning is next to gone, Robinson ended all chance of that happening by agreeing to sign with the New York Giants in free agency. That has ensured that a sizeable void will remain in the Rams' roster and along the defensive line. It's a void Rams' general manager Les Snead should fill by selecting a key rookie in Round 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Florida's Gervon Dexter Sr. could be had in the third round of the 2023 NFL draft.
Dexter is worth the Rams using the 77th-overall pick to replace Robinson, who used to selflessly occupied blockers as perhaps the best run-stuffer on the team. Robinson's comfort clogging rushing lanes will be missed in the NFC West, where the Rams face two of the most talented running backs in the NFL twice a season.
Christian McCaffrey leads a multi-faceted, run-heavy attack for the rival San Francisco 49ers. McCaffrey and versatile Deebo Samuel are a nightmare for any run defense, while second year Seattle Seahawks' running back Kenneth Walker III has the potential to emerge as the league's best within a couple of years.
Walker burned the Rams for 114 yards on 29 carries in Week 17 last season, to go with the 94 yards McCaffrey amassed on 18 attempts in Week 8. Those numbers show Snead needs to equip a Robinson-less defense with another natural disruptor on the ground, and Dexter fits the bill.
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Both Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus and ESPN's Matt Miller have Dexter going to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 88th pick. It's worth the Rams calling the 21-year-old's name 11 picks earlier because of his knack for stopping the run.
At 6-foot-6 and 303 pounds, Dexter has the right frame to absord double teams. He can be a magnet for multiple blockers either on the edge as a five-technique defensive end or as a nose tackle in the middle of the type of three-man line the Rams deploy.
Dexter was playing over center for this run stuff against national champion Georgia, highlighted by Nick Falato of SB Nation's Big Blue View.
Plays like this were common for Dexter during three years with the Gators. He recorded a mere five sacks in the SEC, but rushing the passer isn't his forte, just like it wasn't how Robinson earned his pay.
Robinson justified his spot on the field with plays like this one against Run CMC and the 49ers last season, highlighted by Bobby Skinner of Talkin' Giants.
The ability to make a stop like this wasn't deemed valuable enough for the Rams to match the one-year deal worth $8 million NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo revealed the Giants handed to Robinson. The decision to let Robinson find pastures new will haunt the Rams if Snead doesn't replace him.
Rams' defensive coordinator Raheem Morris' unit was solid against the run with Robinson in the lineup, but still allowed 4.3 yards per carry. Putting Dexter into the trenches is the best, most cost-effective way to begin reducing that number.
Using a mid-round pick on Dexter would also be a smart way to ensure some blockers can be kept off Rams' defensive tackle and perennial All-Pro Aaron Donald, who remains the key to Morris' schemes.