Now that we are about halfway through the regular season, it is time to start considering which players are deserving of the Pro Bowl. For this series, we will look at the three most deserving candidates for each team. Obviously, some teams will have more, or less, than three players selected to the Pro Bowl, but for simplicity purposes, we will discuss their top three candidates for the honor.
Top Midseason Los Angeles Rams Pro Bowl Candidates
In the off-season, the Los Angeles Rams parted ways with several defensive players, but none as integral to the system as middle linebacker James Laurinaitis. This absence opened the door for consistent weak side backer Alec Ogletree to inherit the stingy squad and in just seven games he has become the bona fide leader of the Mob Squad.
He leads his team with 47 unassisted tackles, and 57 total. His one forced fumble was a career-defining moment as it locked in the first regular season win in Los Angeles in over two decades against division rival Seattle Seahawks and sent the momentum right back on the Rams’ side. The team would go on to win their next two games after giving up 28 unanswered points and dropping the opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
Though their record now stands as 3-4, the Rams’ defense is ranked 11th in yards per game, 12th in total points, and tied for ninth in forced fumbles. Under the tutelage of new defensive specialist and Hall of Famer Mike Singletary, Ogletree has kept his defense consistent and productive despite their shuffled personnel and lackluster offense. In both his own personal statistics and his leadership’s results, Ogletree has broken out this season and is well on his way to his first Pro Bowl.
As expected, the defensive lineman who has been invited to a Pro Bowl in every season of his professional career is playing at a level to take him to his third. Aaron Donald is arguably the Rams’ best player this season, continuing to anchor a line that places his team in the top ten of NFL defenses with 3.9 yards per rush attempt.
Like many Rams, his personal numbers have been a little down to start the year with 20 unassisted tackles and 23 overall, as well as three sacks and a forced fumble. However, per Pro Football Focus, Donald is still ranked as the best pass rusher in the league this season. He leads the NFL with 38 total pressures, an average of 5.4 per game. According to the metrics, he is graded as a 95.6, edging Broncos star Von Miller, who was graded as an 85.9.
The former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year has become faster and more vicious with his experience. Donald is very much on his way to becoming one of the best to ever play the position and in the course of this, he will be sure to make Pro Bowl appearances a regular occurrence.
After the Rams drafted two receivers in Pharoh Cooper and Mike Thomas, then gave a massive $42 million deal to Tavon Austin, it ended up being the veteran Kenny Britt who would emerge as the offensive standout of the year so far.
Quarterback Case Keenum has found a great rhythm with the six-foot-four target, making him the eighth receiver in the NFC in total receiving yards. With an average of 16.2 yards per catch, he has been an ace at crossing routes, slowly, but surely, marching the Rams down field. His under-the-radar star power has allowed him to sneak past secondaries all season and his aggressive play has made him a key component of the offensive game plans.
Though he only has two touchdowns so far, his impact has been widely felt in an offense that desperately needed a bright spot. Britt has made some of his most acrobatic catches and performed at his most consistent level in this, his eighth, season. Whether this is because of his chemistry with Case Keenum, the drafting of his potential replacements, or because he’s determined to see the playoffs at least once in his career, his play has been at a level that could very well warrant his first Pro Bowl appearance.