1. Ernest Jones, ILB
Entering his third NFL season, LA Rams third-year inside linebacker Ernest Jones is primed for a breakout season. Following the departure of veteran ILB Bobby Wagner, Jones is set to take over the signal-calling duties for the defense. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris is investing in the 23-year-old who demonstrated maturity and physicality in 2022, recording 66 solo tackles.
Jones is no stranger to being a captain of the defense. In 2019 at the University of South Carolina, Jones recorded a team-high 97 tackles, 20 more than anyone on the squad, according to gamecocksonline.com. Ernest recorded 5.5 tackles for loss, two INT, one sack, and a forced fumble. His outstanding play in the 2019 season was enough for Jones to be named a team captain for the 2020 season.
Playing alongside veterans pays dividends for young players early in their careers. Ernest Jones got the opportunity to learn from a Hall of Fame linebacker in the form of Bobby Wagner. Jones gets to step into the "green dot" role of the defense, the very spot Wagner played last season. Expect the third-year linebacker to have a stellar 2023 season for the Rams.