NFL analyst disrespects Rams defensive trio as bottom feeders for 2024

Despite a very promising rookie campaign, Sports Illustrated writer Gilberto Manzano projects Rams defensive trio out of NFL's Top 20.
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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Breaking down what's broken with that assessment

Let's break that point down with a bit more detail. Ernest Jones put up145 tackles in just 15 games in 2023. Had he competed in all 17 games (one absence by injury, one absence by coach's decision), he projected to have 164 tackles. Where would that have landed him? That would have placed him among the NFL's Top 5 tackles for 2023.

Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of his 'selection' of the top three defensive players on the Rams roster was the fixation upon cornerback Tre'Davious White. It makes zero sense to include White among the Rams' top three defenders, because his write-up states specifically:

"If White stays healthy"

SI's Gilberto Manzano

How can he include DB Tre'Davious White with a straight face with the presumption that White may not even stay healthy in 2024? And he does so knowing that the other veteran defensive back, Darious Williams, is a ball-hawking cornerback who hauled in four interceptions in 2023, good enough to be the 7th-ranked pickoff artist in the NFL.

And I hate to break this news to Manzano, but Darious Williams ended the 2023 NFL season as the third-highest-ranking cornerback in the NFL. That is not based on subjective optics but on Pro Football Focus's final 2023 cornerback ranking. Tre'Davious White did not even make the list.

And then, there is the oversight of not even mentioning the fact that Rams second-year outside linebacker Byron Young was the best in slot among all rookie outside linebackers in 2023. Young's production outshone that of every other edge rusher from the 2023 NFL Draft, despite not hearing his name until the 77th overall selection in Round 3. It seems as though the NFL's aristocracy holds a bias against players who are not touted leading up to an NFL Draft. No other explanation holds to why so many NFL analysts continuously miss the mark over the Rams rookie production from last season.