Bringing these players back for the sequel
The Rams are not exactly starting completely over in terms of a formidable pass rush. After all, the Rams still boast All-Pro veteran defensive lineman Aaron Donald. While he has been carrying the burden of focus from offensive linemen, he continues to apply quarterback pressure at an All-Pro rate.
Veteran OLB Michael Hoecht does not get much respect from Rams fans, which is somewhat disappointing. It's disappointing because his 4.5 QB sacks are the third-best in the Rams defense, while his 55 tackles to date are the fourth-best. Is he ideally suited to start at outside linebacker? Well, he is a productive and solid performer, and he continues to improve with each game.
Some veterans have bright futures too
OLB Keir Thomas is another returning pass rusher who has flashed potential. He has appeared in just two games, and recorded just one tackle so far this season. But he has the upside to play meaningful football in this Rams defensive rotation in the future. At 6-foot-2 and 275 pounds, he brings powerful pursuit off the edge. Sooner rather than later, he will start to get to the quarterback.
Although OLB Zach VanValkenburg is on the Rams practice squad, he has the makings of a future contributor for the Rams defense. In nine games, he recorded nine tackles and one quarterback sack. But he is a big-bodied edge rusher, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 263 pounds, who simply needs more time to put the finishing touches to his game.
Even returning nose tackle Bobby Brown III has a role to ply in terms of getting after the quarterback. While Brown is a blocker gobbler type of nose tackle, he has 15 tackles and 0.5 QB sacks in seven games in this Rams defensive front. He is not a defender who you should expect to get after the QB. But he will slip in a sack or two over time, and he does a great job of stuffing the run to force opposing offenses to lean into passing more often.