Pro Football Focus’ latest ranking of defensive lines placed the Los Angeles Rams at 23rd. On the surface, this ranking seems justified given that the team’s defensive line includes three rookies and two second-year players, and notably lacks Aaron Donald.

The retirement of the future Hall of Famer sent shockwaves through Rams nation. Donald’s dominant presence at defensive tackle over the past decade has left fans wondering how the defense will adjust in his absence. Reactions have spanned from viewing his departure as an irreplaceable loss requiring multiple players to compensate, to a seismic shift that could redefine the team’s dynamics.

Looking back at Pro Football Focus’ assessment of the Rams’ defensive line in 2023, they were not particularly impressed even when Aaron Donald was on the roster, ranking them just one spot higher at 22nd.

“Even with Aaron Donald, the Rams struggled to improve their ranking,” noted PFF. “Donald maintained a PFF overall grade over 90.0 for the ninth consecutive season last year, but lost his position as the highest-graded interior defender after seven seasons at the top. Apart from him, the Rams’ depth on the defensive line is limited. However, with five defensive linemen drafted this year, the team hopes that at least one or two will step up in 2023.”

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