This 2023 rookie sack leader is the key to Rams QB pressure upgrade in 2024

Aaron Donald, Kobie Turner, Byron Young, Los Angeles Rams
Aaron Donald, Kobie Turner, Byron Young, Los Angeles Rams / Harry How/GettyImages

When it comes to the LA Rams' success in the 2023 NFL Draft, I am not shy about professing my amazement for the production that this team found in the passed-over prospects who showed up and commanded the NFL spotlight. In many ways, NFL Insiders, pundits, and analysts were a bit embarrassed by the team's scouting department and personnel executives. So much so that neither the best rookie defender nor the best NFL rookie receiver of all time was honored with their appropriate NFL Rookie of the Year Award.

That is a blemish on the NFL voters.

But the LA Rams fans, even as the debate over rookie reinforcements wages on in forums, comments sections, and sports bars, have to be happy with the return of two rookie sensations who had monster seasons for the team in 2023: OLB Byron Young and NT Kobie Turner.

There are two ways to generate something. You either bring it from an outside source, or you make it yourself. So far, the only avenue that seems to be the topic of discussion when referring to the defense's lack of a 2023 pass rush is the belief that the team must either add veteran free agents or draft multiple edge rushers to get the job done. While those are viable options, what about manufacturing more pressures and sacks in-house?

Kobie is the key

For starters, the Rams defensive front boasted the 2023 Rookie Sack Leader in Kobie Turner, and he was the team's nose tackle. Let me say that again, nose tackle Kobie Turner led all rookies in quarterback sacks last year.

I've heard and read those who try to diminish his performance by stating that he got most of those sacks due to the Aaron Donald effect. But statistics simply do not support that assertion. In 2023, Aaron Donald faced double teams 63 percent of the time. But Kobie Turner went against two offensive linemen 71 percent of the time.

in 2024, the team is likely to slide The Conductor to Aaron Donald's vacated spot at 3-teach, the role that many expected Turner to back up in his rookie season. Even as new faces fill the defense during and after the 2024 NFL Draft, I am hanging my hat on the belief that Kobie Turner's success in 2024 will dictate how well the defense plays as a whole.

Aaron Donald may no longer be lining up on the Rams defensive front, but don't discount Kobie Turner in 2024. He has already proven to be a bit of a unicorn already, leading the NFL in sacks as an interior defensive lineman. And he is not alone. His teammate, rookie outside linebacker Byron Young, will be racing him to the quarterback in 2024 as well.

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