7 Rams whose reputations are on the line over the 2024 defense

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams defense
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams defense / Ryan Kang/GettyImages
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4: OLB Byron Young

When the LA Rams selected former Tennessee Volunteer with the 77th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, NFL teams had already selected 12 pass rushers before him. But if you see how the draft room discussed Young before making that selection, you would be on solid ground to believe that he was one of the first edge rushers coming off the board.

By season's end, Young led the 2023 rookie class of edge rushers with 8,0 quarterback sacks. But now, the second-year NFL veteran must prove to supporters and skeptics alike that he can replicate, or even beat, his rookie production without All-Pro DL Aaron Donald on the football field.

Young is a true DAWGWORK disciple. He has a passion for the game that has kept him focused despite many challenges and obstacles thrown into his path. And his rookie season was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of his ability to get after the quarterback. In 2024, Young knows Los Angeles, California. He knows his coaches. He knows his teammates. And he knows the NFL That has placed him months ahead of where he was at this time just one year ago.

Young is not wearing the horns to get that bank. He is not seeking the spotlight. He simply loves the game and will give everything he has to honor the legacy of so many Rams legends who came before him. The funny thing about players who love the game, the game typically loves them right back.

3: OLB/DT Michael Hoecht

There is a great deal of confusion about the quality of veteran OLB/DT Michael Hoecht. Standing 6-foot-4 and officially listed as weighing 310 pounds, Hoecht was added to the team after the 2020 NFL Draft. Since that time, he has played on this defense in a three-point stance, as well as played on the edge in a two-point stance. Through it all, he has been a workaholic player who gives his all on the football field and will do whatever the coaches ask of him.

In 2023, he recorded 81 tackles, 6.0 quarterback sacks, seven tackles for a loss, broke up two passes, put up 11 quarterback hits, and got 16 quarterback pressures. And yet, some fans were disappointed over the fact that he is returning to the team for 2024.

Hoecht played 962 defensive snaps in 2023. Since the Rams play an odd-man front, one outside linebacker rushes the quarterback, while the other is left to provide pass coverage. In 2023, the cover edge was frequently Hoecht. Hoecht was targeted 31 times last season, allowing 24 passes to find their target (for a respectable 77.4 percent completion rate), and allowing just one touchdown. And yet, it was his inability to cover some of the best wide receivers in the NFL that many recollect. That was a problem with the defensive scheme, not the player.

Hoecht has improved each season with the Rams and continues to improve for the team. In 2024, he will have another chance to put his reputation on the line, as the defense will need a bit more production from everyone. Hoecht is one more player who never heard his name called out during an NFL Draft but remains a vital contributor to the defense this season.