St. Louis Rams Roster Preview: Defensive Tackles


Defensive Tackles on the Roster: Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald, Nick Fairley, Louis Trinca-Pasat, Ethan Westbrooks, Doug Worthington

Defensive tackles are often overlooked when viewing how a team is comprised. That cannot be done when looking at the St. Louis Rams roster. The Rams have a great combination of run-stuffers and pass rushers on the interior. The combination of Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald get a boost with the addition of Nick Fairley and their steady backup, Ethan Westbrooks.

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The defensive line is highlighted by second-year standout Aaron Donald. Donald, the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, jumped out to an impressive rookie year of 47 tackles and nine sacks. He was so impressive that he received NFL All-Pro votes, the only defensive rookie to do that. Donald might be undersized by many NFL standards, but his quickness off the snap, strength, speed and consistent motor make him of the rising stars in the entire league.

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To complement Donald, the Rams use Brockers. He is a huge presence on the inside, both literally and figuratively. The 6’5”, 326 pound tackle is very stout on the inside and does a terrific job clogging running lanes. He also does a good job disengaging from blocks to make plays. This was seen in his 32 tackles and two sacks. His ability to hold-up blocks allows Donald to play a much more penetrating style.

St. Louis Rams safety T.J. McDonald (25) celebrates a sack with defensive tackle Michael Brockers (90) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Rams 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

To help bolster the defensive line Les Snead brought in another disruptive tackle, Nick Fairley. After four seasons with the Detroit Lions, Fairley comes to the Rams looking for a new beginning. He played in just eight games in 2014 due to a knee injury.

He finished the season with 14 tackles and one sack after 35 tackles and six sacks in 2013. He will be able to play in a rotation, which could best utilize his rare combination of size and agility. He uses his 308-pound frame to stuff the run and his quick feet to get after the passer.

The Rams also have the luxury of having a strong backup tackle in Westbrooks. He is not a true tackle, but more of a “tweeter” that will likely spend time playing both tackle and end.

The 267-pound Westbrooks saw time in five games in 2014, showing great promise despite a lack of production. He is quick off the snap and has a relentless motor. He also came from a small school, and appears to play with a chip on his shoulder.

Unlike many of the position groups on the roster, the Rams defensive tackle rotation is going to be all but set going into training camp. Barring a monster performance from Trinca-Pasat or Worthington, or a major injury, the group will likely go unchanged.

Projected Depth Chart

LDT – Aaron Donald; Ethan Westbrooks

RDT – Michael Brockers; Nick Fairley

Next: St. Louis Rams Roster Preview: Defensive Ends

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