As we continue to get ever closer to rookies and veterans reporting at UC Irvine, the Friday, July 12 edition of Countdown to Camp will break down the club’s outside linebackers.
Newcomers: Clay Matthews, Josh Carraway, Landis Durham
After searching for production out of the position on a rotating basis for much of the first half of 2018, Los Angeles traded for outside linebacker Dante Fowler and got plenty out of the deal. Fowler was more of a rotational player with Jacksonville — the team that drafted him No. 3 overall back in 2015.
But in Los Angeles, Fowler was a full-time player and made the most of his opportunities. He recorded 2.0 sacks, a forced fumble, four tackles for loss, and five quarterback hits during the regular season — adding 1.5 sacks, four TFLs, and three QB hits in the playoffs.
Fowler elected to sign a one-year deal with the Rams rather than head into unrestricted free agency. And given that he’s now had a full offseason program with the club, there’s plenty of reason to believe he should be even better integrated into the scheme in 2019.
One of Los Angeles’ big prizes in free agency, veteran Clay Matthews should also aid in the production from the OLB spot. Matthews will likely start opposite Folwer in the Rams’ base 3-4 package — which is more for early downs. Then on third downs, or any known-passing situation, Matthews could be more of a wild card — lining up where it most makes sense from a matchup standpoint. Playing the first 10 years of his career in Green Bay, Matthews has recorded 83.5 sacks — good for No. 6 on the active list.
Samson Ebukam was a starter at outside linebacker for Los Angeles last year, notably scoring a pair of defensive touchdowns in the Monday Night Football victory over Kansas City. But this year, he’s more likely a heavy rotational player. Playing 68.6 percent of the Rams’ defensive snaps as a second-year player, Ebukam recorded 3.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, six tackles for loss, and six quarterback hits.
A fifth-round pick in 2018, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo didn’t see the field as a rookie after suffering a foot injury during the offseason program that landed him on the Physically Unable to Perform list to open the year. But Okoronkwo has a chance to make the 53-man roster as a rotational piece this year. He recorded 20.0 sacks in college at Oklahoma.
Trevon Young bounced between the active roster and practice squad as a rookie in 2018, making a key fumble recovery in the Week 7 victory over the 49ers. He’s another potential depth piece for L.A.
Los Angeles signed OLB Josh Carraway in early May. He entered the league as a Titans seventh-round pick and spent time with Washington last year. The club also added undrafted free agent rookie Landis Durham out of Texas A&M to compete for a roster spot.
PREVIOUSLY ON COUNTDOWN TO CAMP
On Monday, Countdown to Camp will continue with a look at Los Angeles’ cornerbacks.