How well will the Rams investment in Verse and Fiske pay off in 2024?

Florida State, Jared Verse, Braden Fiske
Florida State, Jared Verse, Braden Fiske / Isaiah Vazquez/GettyImages

Did the LA Rams discover and exploit a secret cheat code to enable this defense to get the jump on the 2024 NFL season? After all, many rookies who enter the NFL need more than one season to truly appear to understand the game, their role, and how to accomplish what they are paid to do. And that goes for the best prospects as well as talented prospects who seem to need a bit of polish and refinement to their tactics.

What is it about the NFL that keeps these young men from bursting onto the scene in a glorious rookie debut? While the Rams have been exceptionally blessed with a pair of 2023 rookies who played and produced like seasoned veterans in OLB Byron Young and NT Kobie Turner, that is the exception and not the rule. It simply falls to the fact that young players are not relearning their position as much as performing for new coaches, and synchronizing with new teammates, in the quest to rush the passer.

Rams drafted the Seminoles pass rush, not a pair of players

While the debate has raged over what the LA Rams invested in the first two rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft to add OLB Jared Verse and DT Braden Fiske, keep in mind that the Rams were incentivized to do something extraordinary in the 2024 NFL Draft. While the argument that no single player can be hoped to assume the role of retired All-Pro DT Aaron Donald, the Rams conceived a plan that is somewhat radical.

We shared our thoughts about the Rams trading up for DT Braden Fiske with multiple articles, but perhaps our most relevant discussion about this topic was about the fact that the Rams were compelled to trade up for Fiske, and not doing so would have been the greater evil.

Clarifying the point even further is this interview with The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue, who describes how the Rams scouting department envisioned the draft as a two-person process, targeting two defenders who had already developed great pass rush chemistry. As soon as the team landed Florida State OLB Jared Verse, the team's next target was automatically his teammate, DT Braden Fiske:

The LA Rams keep on reinventing new strategies to address the team's needs, and the 2024 NFL Draft was no exception. Only a personnel department led by the cerebral GM Les Snead would conceive a plan to short cut the roster past the introductions and familiarization that becomes the majority of lessons learned throughout training camp.

While much of the trash talk at this time of year is nothing more than entertainment, the fact that a rookie on the Rams roster is already comfortable enough to make bold claims is a bit encouraging. The team needs a boost to a pass rush that was mediocre in 2023. In 2024, the Rams have taken a bold wager to amplify the intensity of their quarterback pressure this season.

It was a gamble well worth taking, and one that will likely pay off handsomely.

How well will the Rams investment in rookie outside linebacker Jared Verse and rookie defensive tackle Braden Fiske pay off in 2024? Without the collegiate connection, the Rams managed to get 17.0 quarterback sacks and 118 tackles out of Byron Young and Kobie Turner in 2023. If they manage to replicate those totals this season, the team will have a formidable defense.

Stay tuned.

As always, thank you for reading.