How does the defensive line in L.A. measure up to the rest of the league, and which team is the favorite to win the NFC West in 2018? Our panel of ESPN NFL Insiders weigh in:
Which team has the league's best defensive line?
Matt Bowen, NFL writer: Eagles. Adding Suh will generate hype in L.A. when the veteran pairs with All-Pro Donald on the interior of the Rams' defensive line. However, the Vikings look pretty salty up front after landing Sheldon Richardson in free agency, and the Eagles have the NFL's most complete defensive line. With multiple edge rushers, Fletcher Cox inside and proven depth, Philadelphia can throw fresh legs on the field to shut down the run game and hit the quarterback.
Mike Clay, NFL writer: Eagles. The Rams made up a ton of ground. The trio of Donald, Suh and Michael Brockers is as good as imaginable, but an Eagles group that includes Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan and Haloti Ngata inside and Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, Derek Barnett and Chris Long on the edge gets, well, the edge. Only the Chargers and Patriots allowed more yards per carry than the Rams last season, so expect this unit to improve that mark drastically, especially if the Rams add an impact off-ball linebacker.
Mina Kimes, senior writer: Eagles. Philadelphia's line depth was such a common talking point during Super Bowl week that it became a bit of a running joke -- but it was a talking point for a reason. While the one-two punch of Suh and Donald is absurd, the Eagles' army of top-flight pass-rushers puts them over the top.
Mike Sando, senior NFL writer: Eagles. Suh is a luxury addition to the Rams and a questionable scheme fit until we hear specifics from defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. A former general manager said it wouldn't be a shock if Suh finished with four to five sacks playing 60 percent of the snaps.
Kevin Seifert, national NFL writer: Vikings. This answer partly adds variety to these responses. But it also recognizes that in Sheldon Richardson, coach Mike Zimmer has added a major interior disruptor to a group that includes nose tackle Linval Joseph along with defensive ends Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. Joseph and Griffen were Pro Bowlers in 2017, while Hunter has 19.5 sacks the past two seasons.
Field Yates, NFL Insider: Eagles. While the Rams project as a dominant force with the best interior defensive lineman in the game (Donald), the NFL remains a league of depth, an area in which Philly shines. Even with the departures of Beau Allen and Vinny Curry this offseason, the Eagles are stocked with talent that runs two layers deep at essentially each defensive line spot. When facing offenses that run high-octane, up-tempo attacks, that depth pays off in the fourth quarter or decisive moments, as we saw in the Super Bowl.
Are the Rams the clear favorites to win the NFC West in 2018? Who is their biggest challenger?
Bowen: Yes. The Rams are the early favorites to win the NFC West, given the matchups they can create in Sean McVay's playbook and a defensive system under Wade Phillips that will feature a revamped, ball-hawking secondary. The Seahawks should still be in the mix to challenge the Rams, and we shouldn't sleep on Kyle Shanahan's 49ers. With Jimmy Garoppolo locked in to a new contract and the scheme-fit additions of veterans Richard Sherman and Jerick McKinnon, the 49ers could surprise out West.
Clay: Yes. Absolutely. Not only are the Rams the favorites to win the NFC West, but they're also right there with the Eagles and Patriots as Super Bowl favorites. In addition to their league-best group of interior defenders, the additions of Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib (along with Nickell Robey-Coleman) supply them with the league's best cornerback trio. This defense is loaded with top-end talent. The Seahawks' roster has taken a major step backward this offseason, the 49ers are on the upswing but still have plenty of holes to fill, and the Cardinals are in the running to pick first overall in the 2019 draft.
Kimes: Yes. The Rams addressed one of the few areas of concern on their roster this offseason by reloading their secondary. Now that they've added Talib and Peters while holding on to Lamarcus Joyner and Robey-Coleman, I fully expect L.A.'s defense to take another leap forward. As far as a challenger, I'm torn between picking the Seahawks and the 49ers. Although Garoppolo looked like a world-beater last season, I'm not fully sold on the offense San Francisco has built around him.
Sando: Yes. The Rams are the early favorites. Seattle can factor if the Seahawks can fix their running game, which should be the team's No. 1 priority of the offseason. San Francisco will be a sexy pick as a team on the rise, but the team could need additional time to get its defense going.
Seifert: Yes. They won't sneak up on anyone after their 2017 division title, but they did a nice job addressing their secondary this spring, and none of their NFC West opponents made a sizable enough leap to be projected above the Rams. The next-best team is the 49ers, who have busily tried to assemble a contender around Garoppolo.
Yates: Yes. The Rams have a year of synergy under their belt with McVay and Jared Goff as two primary pieces, but there is also balance on this roster that should not be overlooked. With a remade secondary, a scary-talented defensive line and the league's best running back in 2017, the Rams are the favorites, with Seattle clinging to the second-best roster just ahead of San Francisco.