VI: Don't discount this DL for 2024
Even as Toledo defensive lineman Desjuan Johnson was the last to hear his name called out in the 2023 NFL Draft, that only galvanized his resolve to earn his place on the Rams roster and perform so well that his coaches would have a tough time placing him back on the bench.
This 6-foot-3 252-pound defensive end was the 259th player selected, but he did manage to earn a spot on the team's 53-man roster. Even after his selection, he had a tough time finding playing time in the rotation. But he was hungry, and that is something that former DL Coach Eric Henderson rewards handsomely.
He appeared in 11 games, and was only on the football field for 102 defensive snaps. But my oh my, did he ever manage to make them count. By season's end, he had nine tackles, 2.0 quarterback sacks, three quarterback pressures, and one quarterback hurry. Seldom seeing more playing time than 10 defensive snaps in a game, he played 11 defensive snaps against the Pittsburgh Steelers (one tackle), 22 defensive snaps against the Arizona Cardinals (two tackles, one quarterback sack, one tackle for a loss), and 29 defensive snaps against the San Francisco 49ers (two tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble)
Johnson has a quality last seen in former Rams DE Morgan Fox, which is a player who shows up on a football field bigger than his profile might suggest. Johnson was somebody who impressed in 2023, and his playing time and role grew as the season rolled along. He could be someone who springboards off his impressive performance in 2023 to a more significant role and performance in 2024.