Will the real LA Rams starting OLBs stand up?

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams Roster Rams Draft Daniel Hardy
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Rams have time to get the OLB position set for 2023

The Rams have been unsettled at the outside linebacker position for years, and there is no reason to believe even if Hoecht emerges as a key contributor at the position, that the Rams’ defense is suddenly good to go at the position. There are three untested outside linebackers on the Rams roster right now, and the coaching staff needs to determine just how effectively all three can be counted on before entering the 2023 NFL Draft.

Option I: OLB Daniel Hardy was the only rookie on the LA Rams roster who heard his name called in the 2022 NFL Draft. He is a 6-foot-2 239-pound wrecking ball, a cartoonish Loony Tunes Tazmanian Devil. He is extremely athletic and has a true sense of inner confidence that almost radiates from the guy.  Because he is not the ideal size for the position, Hardy has to overcompensate with speed, agility, and an arsenal of moves that will keep him in the quarterback’s face.

Before falling to injury, Hardy did see playing time in two preseason games, recording four tackles and one quarterback hit. Hardy was very active when he was on the football field. Now, he has to prove that he is ready for a rotational role on the Rams’ defense.

Option 2: OLB Keir Thomas is a true powerhouse Edge rusher, standing 6-foot-2 but weighing in at a burly 275 pounds. He plays with powerful leverage and is able to hold his ground against even the biggest offensive tackles. In two preseason games, Keir Thomas was solid, getting five tackles, five quarterback hits, two tackles for a loss, and one quarterback sack.  He has the feel of an NFL-ready player, boasting the size and production for the Rams already.

KeirThomas. FA. 804. Draft Buzz. JFU Draft Profile. Florida State. OLB. player

Option 3: OLB Braydon Thomas has the right length and weight to fit the position, standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 260 pounds. While he is the only Edge rusher who remains on the Rams practice squad, he still has the opportunity to be elevated three times on upcoming game days. He played in two preseason games, recording six tackles and breaking up one pass.

Because he was primarily a defensive lineman with a hand in the dirt, Thomas is making the transition to playing upright as an NFL outside linebacker for the LA Rams. That transition is particularly challenging for a rookie, who must learn a new football position in addition to everything else that is new in his lift.

The LA Rams have three veterans at the outside linebacker position, and three rookies at the position. While we are far too premature to declare the roster position full or settled, it’s quite clear that the emergence of Michael Hoecht as a bona fide outside linebacker has taken tremendous pressure off the entire outside linebacker room to produce immediate starters.

Still, the Rams have the opportunity to add OLB depth from a strong draft class, and likely will sign multiple rookies to the roster either during or after the 2023 NFL Draft.

Hot. LA Rams have something special in OLB Michael Hoecht. light