St. Louis Rams: Projecting Michael Brockers' Impact on the Run Defense

Jamal CollierAnalyst IIISeptember 28, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 12: Michael Brockers #90 of the St. Louis Rams looks on during rookie mini camp at the ContinuityX Training Center on May 12, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The inclusion of Michael Brockers to the St. Louis Rams defensive lineup has been highly anticipated and much needed.

Brockers, the 14th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, was expected to shore up the interior of the Rams defensive line and help St. Louis stop the run.  He injured his ankle in the Rams’ final preseason game and subsequently missed the team’s first three games of the season.

St. Louis is 1-2 in 2012.

Brockers expects to make his season debut for the Rams in Week 4 at home against the Seattle Seahawks and a tough-running Marshawn Lynch at running back.

The Rams have been thin at defensive tackle all season. Fellow rookie lineman Matt Conrath has also missed the season’s first three games with a knee injury.

Adding the team’s first-round pick to its defensive line rotation should prove fruitful for a St. Louis defense that has allowed 120.7 rushing yards per game this year.

For a potential glimpse at what the Rams run defense might look like statistically with Brockers in tow, remember the 2011 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After losing first-round sophomore Gerald McCoy, the Bucs run defense was terrible.

In games in which McCoy played, the Bucs allowed 119.5 rushing yards and .83 rushing touchdowns per game to their opponents’ top three running backs. That’s essentially opposing running backs, period.

The opposition’s leading running back totaled 74.2 rushing yards per game.

McCoy missed 10 games last season. In those games, Tampa Bay surrendered 148.9 rushing yards and 1.3 ground scores per game to its opponents’ top three running backs.

The primary running back gained 101.2 yards per game against the Bucs, which included 190 rushing yards for the Tennessee Titans’ Chris Johnson in Week 12.

That means the differences between games in which McCoy participated versus those he did not suggest that he had a major impact (all else equal) on the Bucs run defense in 2011.

There were certainly other variables in the games, but Tampa Bay allowed an average of 29.4 fewer rushing yards to opponents’ running backs (27 to the primary rusher) and almost half a touchdown per game.

The Rams will be tested this week against the run-heavy offensive scheme of the Seahawks. If Brockers’ presence can resemble what is suggested by that of McCoy, the Rams defense will undergo a quick transformation.

And it will be a welcome one.