St. Louis Rams: 3 Defensive Players Who Could Break out in 2012
The St. Louis Rams are the youngest team in the NFL entering the 2012 season. For the team to perform well this year, it is very likely that someone with little-to-no NFL regular-season experience will have to step up and become a household name.
The list of candidates to do so on the defensive side of the ball includes a rookie, a sophomore and a third-year veteran.
Janoris Jenkins, CB
Entering the 2012 NFL Draft, he was viewed as a first-round talent with an off-field riskiness that diverted his draft slot to the early second round.
The Rams took a shot with Jenkins and can be rewarded greatly with his play on the field. Unlike many of his NFL counterparts, Jenkins has stayed out of the news for suspension-worthy incidents throughout the duration of the summer.
Jenkins has obvious talent at cornerback and will flash it during his rookie campaign.
Robert Quinn, DE
Which of these three players has the best chance to break out in 2012?
St. Louis’ first-round pick in 2011, Robert Quinn has the proven ability to rush the passer at the NFL level. In limited playing time last season, Quinn recorded five sacks.
This season, he will be expected to start for the Rams opposite Chris Long.
If he makes plays on early downs in 2012 stopping the run, Quinn can be seen as a premier complete defensive end as early as this season. Paired with Long, the Rams might have a top-five defensive end tandem in the league.
Long had 13 sacks last year.
Quinn’s third-down effectiveness is already unquestioned, but he can also make plays on fourth down. The second-year player wreaked havoc on opponents’ special teams protection sets in his rookie season.
Darian Stewart, S
St. Louis’ expected improvement at the cornerback position in 2012 should make safeties Quintin Mikell and Darian Stewart look a lot better this season.
Stewart is a third-year player and a second-year starter for the Rams. The undrafted safety was credited with forcing three turnovers last season, none more spectacular than his pick-six of Drew Brees in the Rams’ upset win over the New Orleans Saints.
With an improved overall defense, Stewart could make enough plays in 2012 to gain some national attention. Of course, if the front seven improves as much as expected, he may not have to.
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