NFC West Q&A: Do Rams have best overall defense in NFL?

Already the reigning NFC West division champions, the Los Angeles Rams have spent their offseason doing all they can to try to make sure they continue to wear that crown -- and more -- next season. After adding star cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib via trade, the Rams put a 6-foot-4, 305-pound exclamation point on their defensive overhaul in the form of tackle Ndamukong Suh.

With Suh on board, the Rams now feature one of the most ferocious defensive tackle combinations in recent memory as he joins reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and the oft-underrated Michael Brockers on the Rams' front line. Last offseason, the Rams performed a dramatic makeover on their offense, which surged from the bottom of the league to the top in total points. Now they're hoping for a big leap from coordinator Wade Phillips' defense.

Which means it's fair to ask: Now that Suh is in Los Angeles, do the Rams have the NFL's best defense? And if not, who does?

Alden Gonzalez, Rams reporter: It's easy to get caught up when so many splashy moves are made in such a short time. But take a deep breath, look around the league, and you'll soon realize that other defenses are just as good, if not better. With Suh joining a defensive line that already includes Donald and Brockers, the Rams might have the greatest trio of interior linemen in NFL history. But with regards to an overall defensive line, including edge rushers, the Jacksonville Jaguars (with Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Marcell Dareus and Malik Jackson), Minnesota Vikings (Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph and Sheldon Richardson) and Philadelphia Eagles (Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Michael Bennett, Brandon Graham) are all right up there. Talib and Peters form one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL, but the Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye can make their case, too. Lamarcus Joyner and John Johnson are a dynamic safety pair for the Rams, but so are the Vikings' Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo. Then there's this: The Rams added Suh, Peters and Talib -- all players at the expense of their linebacker group. They're thin there, more so than any of the three aforementioned teams. Yes, of course, the Rams look really good on defense, especially with Phillips overseeing it all. But I'll go with the Jaguars, who might have the NFL's best unit for a second straight year.

Brady Henderson, Seahawks reporter: The temptation is to pick the Rams after Suh became the latest Pro Bowl addition to what was already a loaded defense, but I'm going with the Jaguars. Their defense remains largely intact after finishing at or near the top of several statistical categories last season (the same is true for the Vikings' defense). So why not the Rams? Here's why: When the Seahawks traded for Sheldon Richardson last season, many observers (including this one) thought they had the makings of one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. It turned out to be good, but hardly dominant. In fact, the Seahawks finished with fewer sacks and generated slightly less pressure on opposing quarterbacks than they did in 2016. Perhaps the lesson there is that a great collection of talent is one thing; that talent playing well together is another. The Rams might have amassed the most defensive talent in the NFL, but several players have yet to play together in L.A.'s system. It easily could be the best in the league, but until we see it, I'll give that title to one that's already done it.

Nick Wagoner, 49ers reporter: No. On paper, the Rams' defense can now be put in the discussion among the league's best, but it's too soon to crown this unit just yet. With Donald, Suh, Peters and Talib, this group has no shortage of star power. And that says nothing of a guy like Joyner, the free safety who is one of the best young defenders in the league, even if his name doesn't yet resonate among casual fans. Phillips has the track record to make one believe he can pull all of the Rams' big personalities together. Still, the Rams have some question marks at linebacker, where they need to be better to help a run defense that finished 30th in the league in yards per carry last season, and at edge rusher after trading away Robert Quinn. For now, I'll still go with the Vikings as the league's best defense. They have a dominant front four that got even better with the addition of Richardson and can complement that with Pro Bowlers at every level of the defense. What's more, most of the Vikings' key defenders have been playing together for a few years and have a full grasp of coach Mike Zimmer's scheme. That experience alone gives Minnesota a leg up on the Rams.

Josh Weinfuss, Cardinals reporter: Just as Nick wrote, the Rams might have the best defense in the NFL on paper, but how many times have Super Bowls been won in March? There's a lot of potential in Los Angeles, but there's also a lot of volatility on the defensive side of that locker room. When it combusts -- and give it time, it will -- talent won't help. The best defense in the NFL going into next season will be the Jaguars. They replaced the positions they lost and bolstered their secondary. Campbell is coming off a career-best season, and Ramsey and Bouye have another season of experience under their belts. The defense learned in 2017 what it takes to make a deep postseason run and saw that they could take the likes of Tom Brady and the Patriots down to the wire in the AFC Championship Game. That confidence, coupled with the unity of the large majority of the returning defense, will again make the Jaguars a formidable defense.