Rams show their hand for 2024 with latest free agency signings

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams Practice & Media Day, Darious Williams
Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams Practice & Media Day, Darious Williams / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

What can you make of the LA Rams' offseason strategy so far? Well, with the exception of the earthquake when Aaron Donald announced his retirement, things had been progressing quite orderly and neatly. The LA Rams's first priority was to address the offensive line. Once the team had a firm grasp on a starting five players and a sixth-swing tackle for that group, the team's second priority was to address the secondary with new starters.

Finally, the team gravitated to a veteran quarterback to back up starter Matthew Stafford.

What about the edge position? What will the Rams do about a pass rush? Unfortunately, I think some missed the point that the team has three players whose first full season with the Rams at their various spots were very promising for young players.

Outside linebacker Michael Hoecht, despite arriving on the team after the 2020 NFL Draft, did not play at outside linebacker for a full season until 2023. Despite cross-training from a down lineman position, he recorded 81 tackles, 6.0 quarterback sacks, seven tackles for a loss, and 11 quarterback hits. That's a pretty good first year.

Outside linebacker Byron Young was a rookie in 2023. But he too put up some great numbers. He recorded 61 tackles, 8.0 quarterback sacks, eight tackles for a loss and 19 quarterback hits. If not for the lights-out performance of his teammate, he put up the type of numbers that warranted strong consideration for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Rookie Nose tackle Kobie Turner was tremendous in 2023. How good? He tied the rookie season of The Great One, Aaron Donald, but putting up 9.0 quarterback sacks, more than any other rookie last year. And he did that despite being double-team 71 percent of the time. In addition to hunting down opposing quarterbacks, Turner added 57 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, and 16 quarterback hits. He outperformed the 2023 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson, but the nominating committee favored the third-overall drafted player over the guy who recorded two more quarterback sacks.

The Rams did not sign a top-tier edge rusher yet, despite the need to do so from Aaron Donald's void.

The LA Rams have 11 picks in the 2024 NFL Draft. Right now, it appears that the team will address defensive depth via the draft, and will emerge with a defensive back and a top-tier edge rusher with the team's top four draft picks. Will that be enough?

Young players take huge steps forward in the second year in the NFL, even those who learn new positions. With a year of experience to draw upon, OTAs and training camp is more about perfecting and refining techniques than learning them.

No single player can make up for the void left by Aaron Donald. But perhaps three young men, plus new arrivals from this year's draft, can smooth over the rough edges. The team hit the bullseye in the 2023 NFL Draft. One more rookie class that compares favorable to that ought to be more than enough to keep this team in the hunt for a Super Bowl.