Rams News: Kobie Turner Can Break Aaron Donald’s Rookie Sack Record In Week 18
Kobie Turner, Rams
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Rams’ 2023 draft class has made an immediate impact on the roster. On offense, fifth-round pick Puka Nacua has been the star, putting together one of the all-time great rookie seasons by a wide receiver.

Second-round pick Steve Avila has also be an instant difference-maker on the Rams offensive line. But third-round defensive tackle Kobie Turner has been a deeply important player in his own right.

Turner has played in 62% of defensive snaps in his rookie campaign, but as the season has progressed, he has become more and more instrumental alongside Aaron Donald on the defensive line. Turner has seven sacks in his last six games, giving him 9.0 on the season. A nine-sack season on its own is impressive, but the circumstances around it make it potentially historic.

The Rams 89th overall pick in 2023 needs just 0.5 sacks in Week 18 against the San Francisco 49ers to become the NFL’s record holder for most sacks in a season by a rookie defensive tackle since 2012. That record is currently held by Donald, who had nine sacks in 2014.

Turner was on his way to an impressive season entering Week 17. He had 6.5 sacks, sitting only 0.5 behind Rams teammate Byron Young for the 2023 NFL rookie lead. But he vaulted himself to a shot at history with a 2.5-sack performance against the New York Giants.

It was Turner’s contributions that helped the Rams get over the hump and defeat the Giants, which ultimately led to them clinching a postseason berth in Week 17, an outcome that very few would have expected entering the season. Turner’s remarkable play — especially in the last six weeks — has not gone unnoticed.

And now, if he gets even 0.5 sacks in Week 18, the history books will remember Turner’s rookie season and production for a defensive tackle.

Puka Nacua close to rookie history

Nacua will also be on history watch in Week 18 against the 49ers. The Rams fifth-round pick has 101 catches for 1,445 yards this season, meaning he is only four receptions (Jaylen Waddle — 104 receptions, 2021) and 29 yards (Bill Groman — 1,473 yards, 1960) away from becoming the all-time rookie record-holder for both catches and receiving yards in a rookie campaign.

Nacua has thrived in head coach Sean McVay’s system due to his ability to make impossible catches look routine and his ability to fight through tackles and get to open space. He is currently the No. 2 favorite behind Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud for Offensive Rookie of the Year.