LA Rams have something special in OLB Michael Hoecht
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams certainly have needed help at their outside linebacker position. The team lost the chance to re-sign veteran outside linebacker Von Miller to the Buffalo Bills in the offseason. The team tried to get help by adding DE/OLB Takk McKinley, but McKinley got into a sideline fracas with teammate Justin Hollins. McKinley was released shortly thereafter. But surprisingly, the Rams released OLB Justin Hollins as well.
That created a huge void at the position for the LA Rams, a void that the team simply could not afford to fill with only limited financial resources. And so, if you can’t find it at the market, you grow it yourself. And so, that is exactly what the Rams did. And boy, what a stroke of genius.
The LA Rams signed defensive lineman Michael Hoecht at the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft. He was delegated to the practice squad for the 2020 NFL season. But in 2021, he saw his first action on the Rams’ defense, albeit without much success. In 17 games played, Michael Hoecht ended the season with just seven tackles.
Why not put fleet-footed Michael Hoecht on the Edge?
The LA Rams pass rush hasn’t been much to boast about this season, entering Week 13 at 25th place with just 22 quarterback sacks. Making matters worse, the Rams’ leading quarterback sacker, Aaron Donald, was out in this game.
But this game was not about to follow any normal script. Rams veteran inside linebacker Bobby Wagner had already recorded a couple of quarterback sacks against his former team. But then, just like Tutu Atwell had done on the offensive side of the football, outside linebacker Michael Hoecht began to put on a clinic for the Rams’ present and future outside linebackers.
He recorded his first career sack in the game with a beautiful pass rush.
He then followed that up with a strip sack, for his first and second career quarterback sacks. He played a solid game against the Kansas City Chiefs, a game in which he had six tackles. But he was only close to getting to the Chiefs’ quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.
He found his range against the Seattle Seahawks and QB Geno Smith. Two quarterback sacks at a time when the LA Rams needed somebody, anybody, to step up. On offense, Tutu Atwell proved to be ‘that guy.’ Now, on defense, the young Rams roster is discovering that the LA Rams have something special in OLB Michael Hoecht.
Now, let’s hope the Rams know how to help him realize his full NFL potential.