Defense signings - Other
4- DT Cory Durden was a late addition to the Rams roster, added after the Rams lost NT Bobby Brown III to Injured Reserve mid-season. While released to make room for Brown's return, he was signed to the Rams practice squad. All in all, the 6-foot-4, 292-pound rookie defensive tackle showed a lot of snarl on the line or scrimmage, despite only seeing action in four games and for 44 defensive snaps.
Durden made three tackles for the Rams defense, and warranted a closer look by the team. In fact, he is the only defensive lineman signed on a Reserve/Future contract despite the defection of DL Coach Eric Henderson to USC. I really like this young man's potential, and envision him growing into an A'Shawn Robinson type of role on the Rams defensive line rotation in 2024.
5 - ILB Olakunle Fatukasi is a player to keep on your radar. He is a veteran inside linebacker of two years, stands 6-foot-2, and weighs a burly 240 pounds. He was originally signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2022 NFL Draft. Since then, he has trialed with the Bucs, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs, before finding a somewhat permanent home with the LA Rams.
While his size and weight are enough to make his NFL future very intriguing, He did see action for the Rams in one game on special teams in 2023. In 12 special teams snaps, he chalked up a tackle. Keep in mind that while a modest start, Fatukasi arrived well after the 2023 season had begun. With a full training camp, I expect he will grow into a much larger role on the Rams defense in 2024.
6 - OLB Zach VanValkenburg is a player who was demoted in 2023, from the active roster to the practice squad. But I would not be so quick to judge his future with the Rams' defense as over. In many ways, I believe that it could be just beginning. This guy simply oozes the image of a 3-4 outside linebacker, and he has an opportunity to manifest all of that potential into a successful NFL career once more.
Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 263 pounds, VV (for brevity's sake) is tall, powerful, and long-limbed enough to make an opposing quarterback's life hell. He filled a rotational role on the Rams defense for nine games, but was demoted to the practice squad to allow several rookies on the Rams roster to see playing time as well. Despite nine games, VV only saw action in 97 defensive snaps. He was able to convert that playing time into 9 tackles, 1.0 QB sacks, 1 tackle for a loss, 2 QB hits, 2 QB pressures, and 1 QB knockdown.
In coverage, he allowed just one of two passes to find their mark.
I believe that ZVV will earn a rotational role in 2024. He was not bad in 2023, but the Rams had a lot of new faces to test and assess at the OLB position. I think that he will outright earn a solid rotational role for the Rams defense next season.