Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers has been a staple of the Rams defense since he was drafted by the then St. Louis Rams in 2012. Eclipsing 300 pounds on the interior of the L.A. defensive line, Brockers is a force to be reckoned with. In each of his six NFL seasons, the veteran out of LSU has played at least 13 games. He had a solid rookie season, and then a much stronger sophomore season. Good news for the Rams, Brockers just keeps getting better.
This past season (his first with new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips) Brockers recorded a career-high 39 tackles, a solid number for an interior lineman. Defensive tackles like Brockers often aren’t meant to show up on the stat sheet at all. In fact, they are often meant to clog up gaps and clear lanes for linebackers to sweep and make tackles. This is something that Brockers does very well, his combination of size and speed allows him to move around opposing offensive linemen and put his teammates in position to make plays.
Brockers also developed a new aspect of his game this season, an ability to deflect passes. Part of this development can likely be attributed to the Rams’ change in scheme, allowing Brockers to play a slightly wider position and have a better chance to bat passes down out of the quarterback’s hand. In 2017 alone, Brockers batted down as many passes (4) as he did in his other five seasons combined.
Both fortunately and unfortunately for Brockers, he plays alongside the best defensive player in the NFL in Aaron Donald. This is fortunate for Brockers (and the entire Ram defensive front) because Donald commands so much attention on a play-by-play basis. However, Donald’s presence has also allowed Brockers to get far less attention than he deserves. Things could get even tougher for the scrappy this coming season with the addition of Ndamukong Suh to the already fierce L.A. defense.
Brockers will become a free agent after the 2019 season and I find it hard to believe that the Rams will be able to keep him around. He has the type of talent to draw top defensive tackle money. However, all of the Rams money for that position group will be tied up (and deservedly so) with Donald. Will a team with more cap space and fewer stars look to outbid the Rams and make Brockers the centerpiece of their defensive front? Only time will tell, but I wouldn’t be surprised. After all, Brockers just might be the most underrated player in the National Football League.