With Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season finally here, the Los Angeles Rams still find themselves without their best player in defensive end Aaron Donald. Although head coach Sean McVay has not officially ruled Donald out for the season opener, the Rams have taken precautions for their matchup versus the Indianapolis Colts.
Los Angeles released its first unofficial depth chart which shows rookie defensive lineman Tanzel Smart in place of Donald.
Los Angeles took Smart in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Tulane University. Not only is he a similar build to Donald, but he thrived playing a 3-technique in college.
A three-year starter, Smart improved his numbers in each season at Tulane and earned First-team All-American Athletic honors his junior and senior year. While he is not expected to produce quite like Donald, Smart may be heavily relied on during his absence.
As of right now, Smart will be joining Ethan Westbrooks and Michael Brockers as the starters on the defensive line. Among the other backups slated for more playing time will be Quinton Jefferson and the newly-signed Tyrunn Walker. Fortunately, with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck out, the Rams defensive line has a much easier task in Week 1.