The LA Rams defensive line is a bigger problem than you may realize
By Reese Evans
2023 NFL Draft Prospects
Of course, there is always the option of drafting for the future. The LA Rams have been a been hit or miss recently with the team's drafted prospects, not insomuch that they never take the football field, but that they need time to develop before doing so. It's that delay to the football field that has made the NFL draft a less frequently used options in building the LA Rams roster. But after a deeply disappointing 5-12 season, perhaps the Rams will invest more heavily into the draft in 2023?
Nolan Smith, Edge Rusher, University of Georgia
With a height of 6-foot-3 and weighing 235 pounds, Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith is a dog. Not because he is a Georgia Bulldog but because of his tenacity on the field. Smith is explosive and quick on his feet for his size, giving him ample opportunity to rush the quarterback. He's shorter for an edge rusher at 6-foot-3 but makes up for that disadvantage with his quickness. He has above-average strength, pushing offensive linemen in any direction he pleased during the 2022 season.
According to espn.com, Smith recorded just three sacks last year in eight games played due to injury. Nolan's injury history is a tad concerning, playing a full season just once at Georgia. He is a higher-risk pick due to his availability, but if he cleans that up he could be a mid-round steal in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Andre Carter II, Edge Rusher, Army West Point
One of the more intriguing stories in this year's draft, Army outside linebacker Andre Carter II projects to the LA Rams defense like a hand in a form-fitting glove. The recently changed policy has allowed Andre Carter to put his career in the Army on pause for a shot at the NFL. At 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, Carter II is an absolute unit on the defensive front. He uses his size to his advantage but has the hand skills to finesse offensive linemen. Andre was outstanding in 2021, recording 14.5 sacks with 17.0 tackles for loss, according to sports-reference.com.
2022 was an underwhelming season for Carter II, recording just 3.5 sacks with 7.5 tackles for loss. Despite the down year statistically, the edge rusher is quickly rising on draft boards across the NFL. Scouts dream about prospects with the physical tools Andre possesses, let alone the skill he brings with it. The LA Rams would have to use either a second or third-round pick to have a shot at drafting Carter II if he's still on the board.
Ultimately, the LA Rams know that their defense begins with an energetic and explosive pass rush, something that the team was absolutely missing throughout the 2022 NFL season. That means that the team will need to address the position wisely this off-season.
The LA Rams can do so be opting to reinforce the roster either through the NFL Free Agency market or the 2023 NFL Draft. But in either case, the team must choose carefully. The Rams defense needs contributors who can play, but who can endure the rigors of a 17 game NFL season.