Best ‘backers in the NFL? LA Rams LBs flirting w something special
By Bret Stuter
LA Rams have 3 players who could have great seasons
Let’s start right off the bat by acknowledging that Bobby Wagner had a season that is certainly one of the cornerstone players to a Top-10 NFL linebacking unit. The guy ended the season with 140 tackles, six quarterback sacks, two interceptions, and an All-Pro nod. Well, two All-Pro nods:
But right on his heels is inside linebackers Ernest Jones, a player who nearly doubled his number of tackles in just his second year of play. He ended the season with 114 tackles and one interception. But he will be entering his third NFL season, a year that many young players make huge strides forward. Even if he improves by just 20 percent, his tackle total will rival that of his mentor in 2023.
Leonard Floyd needs one good season
What of outside linebacker Leonard Floyd? For three seasons on the LA Rams roster, he has been a Steady-Freddie of production. He has averaged better than 60 tackles and just under 10.0 sacks per year. Why do I think that he can give more? In both 2021 and 2022, Floyd was on pace to have a career-defining year. But in 2021, Floyd was injured, and his career-high pace of 7.5 quarterback sacks in the first nine games that year slowed to just 2.0 quarterback sacks in the final eight games.
So too in 2022, Floyd failed to record a single quarterback sack in his first six games. But whatever injury plagued him early in the year did eventually heal, and he recorded all nine of his quarterback sacks in the final 11 games of the season. If he could marry the two halves, Floyd could have a year with nearly 16 quarterback sacks over 17 games, which would catapult him to among the NFL’s Top-3 sack specialists.