The Los Angeles Rams now have a roster spot that will need to be addressed for the first six games of 2022, after reserve nose tackle Bobby Brown III was suspended by the league on Monday, July 18 for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy per ESPN.
Brown, drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 draft, will be suspended without pay. Rams insider Sarah Barshop of ESPN adds that Brown can still participate in all preseason games and officially become re-eligible to play on October 17, when the Rams welcome Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers.
But now the new question inside the “Rams House:” Who do the Rams turn to if they want to fill this loss? And who would be an option as a fill-in during the time Brown is on the sidelines?
His name has been mentioned before as a potential late addition. But considering the impact of Monday’s ruling, the Super Bowl champs may have to make a run at a three-time All-Pro selection who is still available…and a past Ram: Ndamukong Suh.
Suh Still Out There
The rumor mills continue to spin as to where the five-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl 55 champion with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will end up.
The most recent update involving Suh came via Tyler Dragon of USA Today on Wednesday, July 13 — who reported that the Cleveland Browns have emerged as an interested team alongside the Minnesota Vikings and the Las Vegas Raiders.
However, Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported that Cleveland has denied that there’s any interest in Suh.
Meanwhile, the Raiders’ name continues to be attached to Suh. Heavy on Raiders reporter Austin Boyd mentioned how the Raiders cut cornerback Stanford Samuels on July 13, which created a spot on the Raiders’ roster to potentially lure in Suh.
However, Suh remains unsigned. And, considering his age and value at this point of his career, he’s viewed as more of a “rental” for a defense in need of some depth along the trenches.
And in the case of the team he played for in 2018 and went to his first Super Bowl with, the Rams look more appealing than ever given Brown’s suspension.
Why the Rams Need the Depth
The Rams will need the nose tackle depth during the time the 6-foot-4, 325-pound Brown is gone. It’s one thing to not have Brown for the early portion of the season. But bear in mind the Rams lost veteran starter Sebastian Joseph-Day to the Chargers during free agency.
The Rams start the season facing a Buffalo Bills team that was sixth in rushing yards last season. But also during the time Brown is gone, the Rams have to game plan for Pro Bowler James Conner of the Arizona Cardinals, the San Francisco 49ers and their high-powered ground game and then three-time Pro Bowler Ezekiel Elliot of the Dallas Cowboys before that Carolina game.
Suh is already familiar with the Rams’ defense and has worked well with Aaron Donald before. The only other towering and massive option inside for the Rams is 6-foot-4, 330-pound veteran A’Shawn Robinson, who is entering a contract year. Greg Gaines could also be a nose option, but he’s shown to be better suited as a pass rusher and the Rams may become hesitant to plug him inside on most of his snaps. There’s also Michael Hoecht, who got seven tackles in limited action last season. However, regarding Gaines and Hoecht, both aren’t above 315-pounds and may be deemed too small to play the nose tackle spot every down.
Other IDL Options in Brown’s Absence
Suh won’t need to start. He can come in as a potential rotational piece until Brown is cleared to go.
But if it’s not Suh, the Rams could look to these two other still available options:
Star Lotulelei: The former first rounder is younger than Suh at 32. He has experience in playing inside and freeing up Pro Bowl linebackers Luke Kuechly in Carolina and Tremaine Edmunds in Buffalo. He could be an interior option to eat up space for Donald and newcomer Bobby Wagner.
Linval Joseph: The two-time Pro Bowler recently played for Brandon Staley — who brought the Rams defense over to the Chargers. The 33-year-old delivered 57 tackles, 30 solo stops and three stops behind the line in 12 starts last season for the ‘Bolts.
Again, this is only if the Rams choose to fill the spot Brown vacates for six games. But judging by the depth and options inside, the champs may need to bring back a familiar face to the “Rams House.”