Los Angeles Rams: Three Biggest Depth Chart Takeaways

by Jake Ellenbogen
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The Los Angeles Rams dropped their unofficial depth chart on Monday. Here are three takeaways from this depth chart that are going to be overreacted by the masses.

3. Malcolm Brown, John Kelly and Justin Davis are ahead of Darrell Henderson on the depth chart

Queue the freaking out of many fans alike. I can already hear the concern and fans saying how bad of a decision it was to trade up in the third round to select a running back. However, this positioning sets the tone in my mind. It’s worth noting that there are zero starters out of this past draft class and only four direct backups. If you have been following the camp buzz and reports, Henderson has received some glowing praise and has worked with the first-team offense regardless if Todd Gurley has been in the lineup or not. The Los Angeles Rams love Henderson, do not let this depth chart fool you.

By having Justin Davis ahead of Henderson, it displays the seniority above all else mantra. The reason for that is because Henderson is out-repping Davis by a ton in camp. After preseason and camp, there is a good chance Henderson will be number three behind Brown with an opportunity to steal the backup role as the season progresses.

2. Samson Ebukam loses his starting job to Dante Fowler Jr. and Clay Matthews

Whether or not this ends up being a big deal, it’s the right move for the Los Angeles Rams to lean on Matthews and Fowler as their starters on the edge. Ebukam has two huge games worth of production but aside from that, he’s been an underachieving Ram thus far. That can change, however, Matthews is a big notch above where former Ram Conner Barwin was in this role. This is one of the best pass-rushing duos the Rams have had on the edge since Robert Quinn and Chris Long. I full expect Matthews to ascend under Wade Phillips and in a role that best suits him. I do also believe the Green Bay Packers started to phase him out of the defense and it showed once they let him go.

With Fowler, this is a 25-year-old pass rusher that has enormous upside but started his career off with a season-ending injury. This will be Fowler’s opportunity to take the next step. With Ebukam, he becomes a really good rotational pass rusher to have and maybe someone that could slide into the inside backer role on occasion due to the sheer athleticism he possesses. Regardless of everything though, Ebukam will have a larger role than the depth chart perceives. Matthews might be primed for an improved season but he sure will be monitored as a veteran that has dealt with injuries and has gotten older.

1. Sebastian Joseph-Day is the unofficial starting nose tackle and that confirms everything we’ve heard in camp

The former Rutgers seventh-round pick made the Los Angeles Rams roster last year but wasn’t able to contribute much of anything. The Rams had added defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh in free agency and were playing John Franklin-Myers as well as Michael Brockers and Ethan Westbrooks often to go along with Aaron Donald. Joseph-Day may have sat on the bench all of last season. However, he’s been in that defensive line room with the likes of the players I just listed.

Even with the addition of fourth-round Washington nose tackle Greg Gaines, Joseph-Day is the projected starter. Joseph-Day had been receiving rave reviews all camp long about his work ethic, preparation, and his improved strength. When coming out of college, Joseph-Day received the label of a run-stuffer with not much else to his game. However, with the help of the coaching staff, his teammates and himself, one can imagine that Joseph-Day is improving in all areas. Regardless of that, he’s got one goal and that’s to eat up blocks and get players like Donald and Brockers isolated one-on-one opportunities. Those opportunities will ultimately maximize their opportunity to win.

One important thing to mention is that the Rams will not be just in the simple 3-4 base defensive lineup. That also means Joseph-Day, starting nose tackle or not will not start on every snap. The fourth-round reigning Rams Rookie of the Year, John Franklin-Myers figures to be a focal point in the Rams interior pass rush. Franklin-Myers had plenty of big-time moments in his rookie year. He helped win the game versus the Vikings and strip-sacked Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.

Other players not mentioned would have to include Morgan Fox. He is coming off a 2018 campaign in which he lost due to his season-ending injury. The former sixth-round pick out of Tulane, Tanzel Smart is also in the mix. As well as undrafted rookie free agent defensive tackles in Boogie Roberts, Marquise Copeland, and Bryant Jones. They are all players to watch, but Joseph-Day is the real winner from this depth chart reveal.

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