‘Explosive, Pliable Edge’ Among 5 Potential Fits for Rams Post-Floyd

Leonard Floyd

Getty Leonard Floyd celebrating the Super Bowl 56 win on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood.

There will be a new sack leader for the Los Angeles Rams in 2023 with the team planning to move on from Leonard Floyd. The towering edge rusher, who led the team with nine sacks, is likely to be released if there’s no trade suitor per ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter on Monday, March 6.

This move puts an end to the four-year, $64 million deal Floyd signed with the Rams in 2021. So now, as Ram fans continue to ask who can replace Bobby Wagner and Allen Robinson, time to add who can replace the veteran edge?

While the Rams can turn to free agency, the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine has intriguing options for L.A. especially if they don’t want to overspend on a free agent edge rusher. One option has been compared to Ex-Ram star Dante Fowler, but the first option has been called an “explosive, pliable edge talent” who performed in Indianapolis. Judging off of film study, draft value and fit, here are five potential replacement ideas for Floyd:

Will McDonald IV, Iowa State

The 6-foot-4, 239-pounder may be shorter than the 6-foot-6 Floyd, but he’s been compared to Randy Gregory of the Denver Broncos by nfl.com draft expert Lance Zierlein.

“McDonald is an explosive, pliable edge talent whose active hands and eager feet make it hard for tackles to get a firm grip on him. His burst and lower-body flexion give him an advantage at the top of the rush, while his spin moves and feel for pocket depth round out his attack,” Zierlein wrote.

His hand strength and bend made him difficult to contain for Big 12 offensive tackles. But here’s what the Rams could love: He’s attacked defenses with his hand to the ground or in a two-point stance — perfect for Raheem Morris. McDonald currently has second round value. Would be a gift at No. 36.

Derick Hall, Auburn

The Auburn Tiger has been described as “explosive and long” while playing “with a rugged demeanor and puts his traits to work as an assertive power rusher capable of putting offensive tackles in reverse,” as written by Zierlein.

He’s also a proven leader — as he was named a defensive captain for the Tigers. And like McDonald, Hall is another attacker from the two-point stance.

He blazed his 40-yard dash in 4.55 in Indy and could be around between selections 36-69 for the Rams.

BJ Ojulari, LSU

The LSU Tiger standout has been mentioned on past mock boards as the Rams’ first selection, even before the Floyd news. Now, he could be a top priority in Day 2 of the NFL Draft when the Rams make their pick.

Though he’s more undersized compared to the 6-foot-4 McDonald and 6-foot-3 Hall, the 6-foot-2 Ojulari goes into disruption mode once the ball is snapped. He’s usually seen as one of two defenders completing the sack or the one hustling from behind to snatch the QB scramble. He’s a relentless player who has explosive feet and a wicked ghost rush move to beat his blockers.

The downside is that after a two-sack day versus Auburn on October 1, he posted just two the rest of the season which will raise questions about his consistency. But his speed can make him a fit here before the round of 70.

Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State

He’s the Dante Fowler comparison. And when looking closely at his burst off the ball and ability to finish, you see why the former Ram is the closest thing to the Wildcat.

He’s an urgent rusher with a combination of having a long frame and snap explosion. But this part could win over Aaron Donald and defensive line coach Eric Henderson: Anudike-Uzomah comes with an arsenal of hand moves in scouting him closely. His hand moves and relentless motor led to 20.5 career college sacks.

He did his damage more from a three-point stance, which can raise questions on if he can attack without his hand in the ground like Floyd. But being compared to Fowler, who delivered his best sack season as a Ram, is a good thing for the Rams.

Keion White, Georgia Tech

The newest mock from ESPN draft expert Todd McShay on Tuesday, March 7 has White going No. 27 overall to the Buffalo Bills.

But if the 6-foot-5, 285-pound versatile specimen is around at No. 36, he could be the prime replacement for Floyd. With that frame, he could be used in a wide-9 defensive end role or even get plugged inside to let him get loose. His pursuit speed followed by short area quickness in closing in on gaps and quarterbacks are pluses.

He’ll need consistency with his hands. But being with a Georgia Tech alum in Henderson could also benefit him.

Read More