Rams Rookie Preview: Bryce Hager, Linebacker


Bryce Hager was one of the two selections the St. Louis Rams made in the seventh round. Hager was selected with the 227th overall selection out of Baylor University. Unfortunately, players selected this late in the draft are never a sure thing, but Hager looks to help an already very solid linebacker corps for the Rams.

More from Rams Draft

Hager played all four years of his college football at Baylor. He redshirted his first year with the Bears, and contributed in 2011 as a specials teams player and reserve linebacker. Hager would start at middle linebacker in 10 of 13 games in 2012 and saw a large increase in production. He would lead the Big 12 in tackles and be named first team All-Big 12. In 2012 Hager would start nine games before suffering a season ending injury. Despite the injury, Hager would earn All-Big 12 honors for the second straight season. He would finish his college career strong. Hager started all 13 games as a senior and led Baylor in tackles with 114. He would once again earn All-Big 12 honors.

Jan 1, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Baylor Bears linebacker Bryce Hager (44) during the game against the Michigan State Spartans in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Bears 42-41. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Hager performed admirably at the NFL combine. He posted a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash and lifted 26 reps on the bench press. Hager excels at stopping the run and can move laterally to the line of scrimmage very well. He can play both man and zone coverages and covers the pass well. He struggles to diagnose plays on occasion, but when he does he has a great nose for the football.

Hager doesn’t come without inefficiencies. Hager struggles to make straight up tackles. he needs to get stronger at the point of attack. He also struggles to make clean breaks on the ball carrier. If he becomes engaged on his way to the ball, he seems to get lost in the play and negated. Many analysts said he would need to be drafted by a team that incorporates a 4-3 defensive scheme to even have a chance at making a roster. He was graded as a 6th to 7th round draft pick, so he landed right were he should’ve.

Hager will have his work cut out for him. The Rams sport a very intimidating group of linebackers. James Laurinaitis leads the defense in the middle. He’s flanked by Alec Ogletree, and Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Newly acquired free agent Akeem Ayers will compete for a significant role. Those four project out as starters entering 2015, but depth is an issue for the Rams. Hager is coming into a strong young defense and sill have his chances, he just needs to make the most of them.