Player II: Edge Byron Young
The depth at outside linebacker in the 2023 NFL Draft class was incredible. This was such a deep and talented rookie class, that three of the Top 20 prospects did not even hear their names called out during the NFL Draft. That was not due to the fact that those rookies were overestimated. It was simply the fact that the number of players from this draft class was so plentiful that NFL teams gorged themselves on young edge rushers until their rosters were full. Thankfully, Tennessee edge rusher Byron Young was one of the prospects who heard his name called on Day 2.
But the reason for Young to arrive in the NFL really has nothing to do with when he was selected. Rather, it was the path to the NFL that has given Byron Young a unique perspective to it all: From manager at Dollar General to a projected starting pass rusher for the LA Rams defense, outside linebacker Byron Young has the feel of a young man who is going to make the most out of this opportunity.
Day 1 starter
Some say that you don't know what you have until you've lost it. I say the opposite can be true as well. That is, you don't know what you are missing until you have it. Byron Young is one of those type of rookie prospects, He is 25 years old, which had the effect of discouraging some teams from taking him. But he is a hard-nosed incredibly athletic young man who is cherishing every moment of this NFL journey, and as such you can look for incredible attention to detail.
Some believe that the LA Rams have an outside linebacker room filled with pass rushers at the cost of all other roles necessary to make an effective three-down outside linebacker. I would argue that while he is a bit light in NCAA experience, Volunteers' Byron Young has the instincts to be very good in the NFL. He loves to tackle, and as such he finds a way to find the football. While raw, he is incredibly coachable, and quickly applies lessons learned to on-field production.
In 23 college games over his two year NCAA career, Young put up 83 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, 12.5 quarterback sacks, defended two passes and hauled in one interception. At 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, he is not the tallest nor longest limbed pass rusher in the NFL. But Philadelphia Eagles pass rusher Brandon Graham has enjoyed a long and successful NFL career, and he stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 265 pounds.
Not everyone will agree with this glowing and optimistic outlook for Young, and that's okay. Even the LA Rams hedged their bets on Young by adding OLB Nick Hampton (the 18th-ranked OLB) with the 161st overall pick and then doubled down once more to select OLB Ochaun Mathis (the 24th-ranked OLB) with the 189th overall pick. The Rams will find at least one starter from that group. My money is on Byron Young. He may be more mature, but this is a journey that he will enjoy more than anyone. That gives him an unshakeable edge to landing the edge role on the Rams roster.