LA Rams Wildcard Weekend: Which Rams player has most 'villain' potential?

Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages
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IV: Ernest Jones - Saruman (Lord of the Rings)

LA Rams inside linebacker Ernest Jones can play an excellent villain for the Rams against the Lions, but not solely from his own power. Jones is the general, the savvy strategist who sits behind his front line and calls the shots. And just like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings lead wizard, he possesses a power of persuasion that is powerful enough to persuade all those around him to do his bidding.

Jones leads the LA Rams defense in tackles (145) and is one of the team's leading pass rushers (4.5 quarterback sacks). Jones is only in his third NFL season, but already exerts tremendous influence over the outcome of the game. And he has the power to stop a running back dead in his tracks, bring down an opposing quarterback, and deny a forward pass from ever reaching its intended target.

The LA Rams defense will surely attempt to pressure Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff via A-Gap blitzes (sending a defender to rush the quarterback on either side of the center). That makes Jones a key villain in the Lions quest to advance to Round 2 of the 2024 NFL Playoffs.

III: Aaron Donald - Darth Vader

If there is any more ideally suited NFL player who commands The Force to do his bidding for nefarious deeds, I cannot think of them. LA Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald truly embodies The Force in many ways. Long known as a champion, the confrontation with the Detroit Lions has turned Donald from hero to villain almost overnight.

"I find your lack of faith disturbing"

Darth Vader

How can the Detroit Lions hope to contain a player whose NFL career has been made up of handling and overcoming NFL double and triple teams? He almost has the power to channel his power to thwart offensive linemen on his way into the offensive backfield.

Donald is clearly the master of The Force on the Rams defense. He has racked up 53 tackles, 8.0 quarterback sacks, 16 tackles for a loss, three deflected passes, 31 quarterback pressures and 23 quarterback hits, and even sat out the final game of the season.

Aaron Donald is someone who is feared by NFL offensive coordinators and offensive linemen alike. In the Wild Card Round of the 2024 NFL Playoffs, you can bet that Aaron Donald relishes his role as a villain. And he has complete mastery of The Force as he takes aim at stopping the Lions and their rebellion.