Despite having the top-ranked defense in the league, the Rams had a glaring weakness and that was the linebacker position. Yes, Leonard Floyd was an absolute dynamo recording 10.5 sacks and was the embodiment of a low-risk high reward investment, but beyond him, the linebacker group was patchwork at best. Samson Ebukam, Kenny Young, Micah Kiser, Troy Reeder, Terrell Lewis, and others came and went without their ever really being a solid unit. Floyd masked a lot of sins and unfortunately for the Rams, he will easily find a team that can move him TO A BIGGER HOUSE.
The Rams are also likely going to cut Kenny Young and maybe someone else in order to free up cap space. The good news is, they have enough draft capital and there will be a number of vets that unexpectedly find themselves looking for a new team. There are numerous options for the Rams and aside from the offensive line, linebacker is their biggest off-season priority.
The Rams aren’t all that cap liquid right now (take a drink) and thus are priced out of the cream of the crop at linebacker. That means unless they get someone DESPERATE for a ring they’re missing out on the likes of Bud Dupree, Von Miller, Melvin Ingram, etc. Their shopping list also needs to consider whether or not Terrell Lewis is going to be healthy or at least be trusted to be healthy. If he can, then they probably upgrade more at inside linebacker with say, Christian Kirksey or Avery Williamson. If they don’t, perhaps they focus more on the outside and target De’Vondre Campbell or Olivier Vernon.
Perhaps they split the difference and bet low on multiple guys with “prove it” deals. For instance, Takkarist McKinley who has a history with Raheem Morris in Atlanta, or someone like Eric Wilson could boost the pass rush.
Maybe they use their draft capital on the outside and buy low inside with Reuben Foster or Tahir Whitehead. There aren’t any sure-fire home runs in this group but Leonard Floyd wasn’t instantly looked at as one either. Having Aaron Donald is always a boost and any linebacker they sign will have every chance to succeed.
The Rams really need to take the linebacker position seriously this time. They say what happens when Donald has to compensate for a lack of production. They likely won’t have another Leonard Floyd next year but if they can build a cohesive unit they won’t have to. There are a lot of options out there that won’t break the bank and if Les Snead can hit on a guy or two in the draft that will make life a lot easier. It isn’t clear if they go linebacker with their first pick at 57 or if they go interior line first but they can’t afford to wait until day three to address that need.