Michael Hoecht, Earnest Brown, and Marquise Copeland hope to earn a roster spot in Brown’s absence
The Los Angeles Rams will be without one of their more promising second-year players for the first six games next season: defensive tackle Bobby Brown has been suspended for violating the NFL’s PED policy.
Brown was drafted by LA in the fourth round in 2021, and he’s considered one of the more athletic players on the Rams’ roster. After flashing his potential last preseason, Brown mostly redshirted the regular season and was hoping to take a step forward in 2022.
#Rams rookie DT Bobby Brown going to end up being a solid pro, IMO – tons of tools/ability and upside to his game… Nice rep here vs C
The midround DTs – Odighizuwa, Brown, Shelvin, TJ Slaton, Graham, etc – look out for this crew! pic.twitter.com/HO6taCChlc
While Brown will be eligible to play in the preseason, he won’t be on the regular season roster for the first six weeks. With Aaron Donald, Greg Gaines, and A’Shawn Robinson considered one of the best starting defensive lines in the NFL, barring injury Brown was hoping to contribute on a rotational basis this season.
Which reserve defensive linemen could step up during his absence?
Hoecht is entering his third year with Los Angeles. After going undrafted by the NFL (but not the Canadian Football League) in 2020, he spent his first season on the Rams’ practice squad. Hoecht was primarily a special teams contributor in 2021 – participating in 65% of those snaps. He also managed to notch 110 snaps on defense (10%).
There’s a reason why the Rams have kept Hoecht around for the past three years. While he might lack the high-end athleticism of Brown, his familiarity with LA could give him the inside track as the primary backup to Gaines and Robinson.
Earnest Brown IV (5th) was drafted just one round after Bobby Brown (4th) during 2021, though he was the only drafted rookie to not make the initial 53-man roster for Los Angeles. The Rams liked him enough to keep him on the practice squad for all of last season.
Brown IV seems to have inside/out versatility – he was projected primarily as a 4-3 defensive end during the draft process – but you don’t see his name mentioned at the outside linebacker competition with Justin Hollins, Terrell Lewis, and Chris Garrett.
Rams appear to see Earnest Brown IV as a stand-up edge rusher. Don’t think that helps his chances of making the 53 with Lawler and Garrett playing well this preseason.
Could a year developing his craft behind the scenes be enough for him to make a leap in 2022?
The Rams signed Copeland as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and he’s been with Los Angeles ever since. This makes him the longest tendered defensive lineman on this list, though he spent most of the last three seasons on the practice squad.
Copeland was elevated to the active roster in late-November 2021, and he picked off Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray during the first round of the playoffs.
Copeland also received playing time on defense during Super Bowl LVI, which indicates the Rams’ coaching staff trusts him even on football’s biggest stage.
RAMS HAVE ALL THE MOMENTUM!
Defensive Tackle Marquise Copeland picks of Kyler Murray ! #RamsHouse 2nd INT of the game !
Murray Will Throw an INT (-105)✅ https://t.co/8J0tCJY3m3#AZvsLAR #NFL