Year two is when players generally take their biggest leap forward in terms of development with their overall skill set. For the St. Louis Rams, they are hoping to get that kind of progression out of their stellar 2012 draft class. The most overlooked name from that group has surprisingly been the highest pick in defensive tackle Michael Brockers. After the year he is primed to have in 2013, however, it will tough to keep pushing him to the back burner.
With sack artists Chris Long and Robert Quinn on the edges, the big guys in between often get overshadowed on the Rams’ defensive front. Free agent acquisition from last year, Kendall Langford, figures to pair with Brockers on the inside where quality reserve Jermelle Cudjo will be active to give either one a breather when necessary. That strength at all four positions will benefit Brockers as he looks to have a breakout season in 2013.
His 31 combined tackles with one forced fumble and four sacks from last season were in limited action as he was forced to begin the year on the injury report. At full health with a full offseason of training in, the sky really is the limit for this former LSU Tiger. Coming out of Baton Rouge, Brockers only had one full year of experience in the starting lineup as an early draft entry so getting more reps is really the thing that will benefit him the most.
That leads to training camp where Brockers figures to line up against center Scott Wells and guards Shelley Smith, Barrett Jones, Rokevious Watkins, and company on a regular basis. These trench battles will pay big dividends for the defensive tackle when push comes to shove during the grueling 16-game regular reason.
Explosive and versatile, the Rams expect Brockers to live in the opposing backfield during this upcoming season. With double-teams often being required on either end, trying to block the big fella with one man will be the demise of many teams. Opponents will have to pick their poison when it comes to the Rams defensive line, and Brockers is most certainly a lethal dose.
Given the fact that he was limited as a rookie to just 13 games, Brockers won’t be subject to the sophomore slump that haunts some players. This season should be a year of exponential growth for the player dubbed as raw and very instinctual coming into the 2012 NFL Draft. Look for his year of film study, playbook learning, and technique refinement to really pay off in 2013 for the defense of the Rams.