Upgrading DE can mean a great deal for LA Rams 2024 pass rush

Jonah Williams, Los Angeles Rams
Jonah Williams, Los Angeles Rams / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The LA Rams pass rush in 2023 was adequate, but it was not the furious creator of havoc and chaos that fans had become accustomed to. The challenges faced last season had very little to do with the rookie class, as NT Kobie Turner and OLB Byron Young combined for 17.0 quarterback sacks, and a great deal more pressures between themselves. So where did the team struggle most?

To understand where and how the Rams pass rush was weakest, at least in terms of the team's down linemen, we pivot to a recent graph from Football Insights. The graph reflects the data points of NFL starting down linemen in terms of their run defense (X axis) and their pass rush (Y axis). To limit the number of players plotted, Football Insights created a threshold of 150 defensive snaps at a minimum.

So how did the LA Rams show up as regards to their performance?

Of course, All-Pro DT Aaron Donald shows up in the highest quadrant of NFL down linemen, scoring very well at both pass rush as well as run defense. Just below him, at least in terms of pass rush, you will find rookie NT Kobie Turner. Below them both, just below the X axis, you will find NT Bobby Brown III plotted as solid on run defense, but less effective at generating a pass rush.

But starting DE Jonah Williams, while still showing positively in run defense, shows up as one of the worst pass rushers on this chart.

My point in this article is not to throw any shade at Jonah Williams whatsoever. The purpose of this article is simply to illustrate that there is a lot of potential improvement to be found in terms of pass rush upgrade by the Rams defense at the defensive end position.

The teams has some strong options to rotate at the role. Second-year defensive end Desjuan Johnson managed 2.0 quarterback sacks and three pressures in just 102 defensive snaps in 2023. If he were to increase his role to 300+ defensive snaps, would his ability to create pressure on quarterbacks be as effective?

The team also added rookie Anthony Goodlow to the roster after the draft. Goodlow stands 6-foot-5, weighs 284 pounds, and he extends the team's tradition of using undrafted defensive ends in the rotation that includes DE Morgan Fox and Jonah Williams. Goodlow does have a subtle pass rush that finds success by wearing down opponents rather than slipping past them with sudden pass rush moves at the line of scrimmage. We see Goodlow as a potential sleeper in this year's rookie class.

Of course, with a revamped roster at outside linebacker, the team could revert DT/OLB Michael Hoecht to defensive end, harnessing his superb pass rush skills while limiting the need to use him in pass coverage.

The team will certainly backslide at filling the void created by Aaron Donald's retirement. But by the same token, the pass rush can make up a significant amount of ground by upgrading at the defensive end position. Now, it's simply a matter of seeing who stands out in training camp.

Thanks for reading