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Fitting the mold: What do the Rams value in defensive linemen? 

Leading into the 2023 NFL Draft, will be doing a four-part series examining what experts regard as positions of need for the Rams and what Los Angeles looks for in those respective positions.

Kicking off the series is defensive line.


THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Given the attrition to the defensive line this offseason, the position is regarded by some experts as one of potential need for the Rams entering the 2023 NFL Draft.

Should Los Angeles choose to address it, there are several key attributes defensive line coach/run game coordinator Eric Henderson looks for in a prospect – one of the most important being positional versatility.

"I think two of the things that over the years since I've been here, that's become extremely important for our team, are finding guys that have the versatility and athleticism in terms of that skillset," Henderson told "Because it provides a tremendous amount of depth for your team when you have guys that can play multiple positions, and especially up front. That's become one of the biggest things that has been proven to be extremely helpful for the guys, for the team. And so we continue to look for guys that have that type of skillset, along with the girth and size to be able to withstand the body blows that consistently take place on the interior."

The most obvious example of that, of course, is Aaron Donald, whose flexibility allows L.A. to line him up at any spot along the defensive line.

However, the Rams have had other examples too, like Jonah Williams, Michael Hoecht and Earnest Brown IV.

Beyond that flexibility, Henderson also values high-character individuals with the size and physicality to defend the run and the pass. They need to fit the position room itself and match the group's personality as well.

"The physical, the intelligent players that have that mindset and mentality, the toughness," Henderson said. "Things that you don't want to have to coach, but you can just truly focus on the football aspect of it because guys possess those qualities already. And so I think that's been critical for us and we have some guys that have those attributes."

Should the Rams address defensive line via the draft or undrafted free agency, that player or players would join a rotation that currently includes Donald, Brown, Hoecht, Williams, Marquise Copeland, Bobby Brown III and Larrell Murchison. Greg Gaines signed with the Buccaneers in free agency, while A'Shawn Robinson is currently a free agent.

From Aaron Donald's record-setting sacks to Larrell Murchison's big-time debut, look through the best photos of defensive tackles from the Los Angeles Rams' 2022 season.

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