3 Rams who shocked everyone with their transformation in 2022

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams News Rams Roster Michael Hoecht
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Player II:  Michael Hoecht

Signing on as an undrafted rookie, Michael Hoecht has fought every step of the way to earn playing time for the LA Rams. But his path to starting for the Rams has been unique, a fact he himself admits in a recent interview. But Hoecht’s rise to the top is even zanier than that. He signed on with the LA Rams as a defensive lineman, but he is starting for the LA Rams as a cross-trained outside linebacker.

The thing is, he’s pretty damned good coming off the edge. Sure, he’s not exactly polished and refined at setting the edge, shedding blockers, containing mobile quarterbacks, stopping the run, defending the pass, and getting after the quarterback. But what he lacks in years of experience and precision technique, he more than makes up for in raw energy, passionate play, and making plays that you didn’t see coming:

Hoecht was a lot of fun to watch in 2022.

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Don’t be shocked if Hoecht becomes the starting OLB in 2023

What I love about Hoecht is simply the fact that nobody knows just how good he could become. There are plenty of fans who see Hoecht as nothing more than a gimmicky performer who will wilt in 2023 if the team amps up the competition for playing time. But I’m not one of them. After all, the guy was cross-trained to the outside linebacker position through a desperation crash course, and the guy not only held his own, but he outperformed two veterans on the Rams roster who were longtime outside linebackers.

In seven games at the position, with little experience, he ended with 4.5 quarterback sacks and 34 tackles. Imagine what those numbers might be with a full training camp, preseason, and the opportunity to focus on the position. The guy is 6-foot-4 and 310-pounds, lightning fast, incredibly agile, quick off the blocks, and he trained as an interior defensive lineman.

His vulnerability right now is in pass coverage and pass defense. I don’t think one training camp can elevate his play to that of an NFL Pro Bowler. But he has the chops to play the role, and I, for one, believe he can absolutely be the starter in 2023.