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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What did Manzano miss so blatantly in his assessment?

The Rams may not have the same elite level of NFL superstars in 2024 as the team did in 2021. But what this team misses in elite production, I believe the roster more than makes up for by creating a greater level of parity across the roster. That complicates the use of any top three players from the Rams' defense.

As we witnessed in 2023, the Rams defensive front was bolstered by both NT Kobie Turner and OLB Byron Young. While Turner got the edge in quarterback sacks, the pair combined for an outstanding 17.0 quarterback sacks, a huge number for two NFL rookies. If the team has similar production from 2024 rookies DT Braden Fiske and OLB Jared Verse, this defensive front could be one of the most dominating pass rushes in the NFL.

But the production of the four stars could be so similar that no individual player will show much in terms of a top-trio ranking. That is how this mechanism is flawed in its design.

But even more apparent is the flawed assessment of a casual attempt to identify the team's top three players, and missing the mark so horrifically. While DB Tre'Davious White may prove to be an outstanding addition to this defense if he can reclaim his pre-injury All-Pro form, that was certainly not factored into the way Manzano narrated White's projection for 2024. The appearance of stating 'if he can stay healthy,' introduces a limited probability that he will do so.

While White is a wild card to the Rams' secondary, veteran DB Darious WIlliams is the true ace in the hole for the team's pass defense in 2024. Revising the 2024 projections to Kobie Turner, Ernest Jones, and Darious Williams compared to other NFL teams, the Rams certainly rise to stand firmly among the Top 15 defensive trios and flirt with being mentioned among the Top 10 in the NFL.

I like what the Rams have done in the offseason, and believe this defense is well positioned to surprise folks in 2024. Stay tuned.

And as always, thanks for reading.