The Rams were dealt a huge blow on Sunday following the news that newly acquired D-Line member A’Shawn Robinson will be out indefinitely with a cardiovascular ailment. Robinson’s arrival served two fundamental purposes 1) to bolster a run defense that suffered following the departure of Ndamukong Suh and 2) to help Aaron Donald not have to deal with triple-teams on every snap (teams still need to use all five O-Linemen to make it a fair fight). Now the Rams are scrambling to figure out their D-Line rotation, and it is likely they bring in a veteran at the league minimum.
Of the veteran D-Line options out there, there are only two that could play the nose tackle position at a level close to what Robinson would’ve given them. The first is Timmy Jernigan formally of the Ravens and Eagles. Jernigan is 27 so he’s still a youthful presence that would adequately serve as a run-stuffing tackle. It’s true he’s on his third team since being drafted in the second round during the 2014 draft but that shouldn’t be a major concern. Jernigan is a solid option.
Another option out there is to bring in 31-year-old Damon “Snacks” Harrison. Snacks, like Jernigan, is the definition of a journeyman. He is slightly more accomplished than Jernigan having made an All-Pro as a member of the 2016 Giants. He hasn’t reached that level again but the Rams would be best served to bring in someone with that on his resume. He also has a relationship with A’Shawn Robinson since the two played together in Detroit last season.
If the Rams can’t reach a deal with either or opt to save what little money they have this season they could gamble on their in-house depth. Greg Gaines was a highly touted draft pick last season and considered a steal in the fourth round. He never made any sort of impact his rookie year and there hasn’t been much buzz around him this off-season. That said, it’s possible he’s found ways to make himself at least a part of the rotation as he was touted as being the future of the D-Line.
A’Shawn Robinson going down is not ideal for a D-Line unit with limited depth, but fortunately, all is not lost. Whether the Rams go for a veteran or try to ride out Robinson’s ailment in-house, they have enough options at their disposal to weather the storm. If he can come back, the Rams will either have a veteran that can play a major rotational role or a younger player who has gotten starter reps for a majority of the season. The Rams D-Line has the ability to become more than a unit anchored by a leviathan but a unit with a leviathan and a host of other viable threats.