The Los Angeles Rams are effectively going all in on 2018 just days after they took down the Green Bay Packers. Los Angeles has traded their 2019 third-round pick as well as their 2020 fifth-round pick for former Jacksonville edge defender Dante Fowler, per Adam Schefter.
Jacksonville maintained one of the league’s best defenses, but LA has no shortage of defensive talent. Fowler will play alongside Aaron Donald, the highest-graded player in the NFL (95.6), who’s also second in the league in quarterback pressures (47). Los Angeles boasts one of the most talented defensive lines in the NFL pairing defensive interiors Donald and Ndamukong Suh, but they lack talent at the edge defender position. The Rams’ edge defender with the highest pass-rush grade is Samson Ebukam (72.3), who ranks 29th in the NFL. Los Angeles receives an immediate upgrade at the position with Fowler, who was the odd man out in Jacksonville.
Fowler has had the best season of his career as a pass-rusher, earning a career-high 82.7 pass-rush grade through Week 8. This mark is good enough for seventh in the league among edge defenders (with no snap restrictions), just one place behind Khalil Mack’s 83.8 pass-rush grade
The writing was on the wall for the Jags' 2015 first-rounder, as Fowler has only played 165 snaps this season. Yet, he has seized the opportunities he has been given. Fowler’s pressure percentage (14.8) ranks T-12th among edge defenders with 100-plus pass-rush snaps.
Fowler's 2018 production, however, is an outlier compared to the start of his NFL career. Among the 65 edge defenders with 500 pass-rush snaps in 2016 and 2017 combined, Fowler ranks T-47th in pressure percentage (10.6).
The former first-round pick is in the fourth year of his rookie deal and has high upside in a talent-laden Rams defense. He should make an immediate effect pressuring opposing quarterbacks and further solidify the Rams’ identity as the class of the NFL.