OTA images of 2nd year Byron Young has Rams fans thrilled to start NFL season

Byron Young, Los Angeles Rams
Byron Young, Los Angeles Rams / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

When the LA Rams selected former Tennessee OLB Byron Young with the 77th overall pick in Round 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft, the team was hoping to add a contributor to the pass rush. At best, the team wanted a guy who could handle a meaningful rotational role on a defense that had divested from all but their youngest pass rushers.

What the Rams got in Byron Young was a 250-pound 6-foot-2 stick of defensive dynamite who earned a starting role, and achieved the runner up spot in terms of rookie defenders in terms of quarterback sacks with 8.0. The funny thing is that he was second only to his teammate, nose tackle Kobie Turner.

Well, one year later, Byron Young is no longer a wide-eyed rookie who is hoping to contribute. Now, he is a seasoned NFL veteran who had a taste of success, and now intends to leave his thumbprint on the NFL. And from what we have seen so far from the bigger bulked up Byron Young, he is well on his way to achieving exactly that:

Byron Young has added 10 pounds of muscle for his second go after NFL quarterbacks. Now, keep in mind that Byron Young earned Defensive Rookie of the Week in Week 6 during the 2023 NFL season. Now factor in a bigger, more powerful version of that player. Need a reminder? Check out his rookie highlights:

I understand that some fans are less willing to be optimistic about the 2024 NFL season. But being optimistic is different than expecting lofty achievements. Byron Young is one such example of a rookie who had an incredible 2023 but is very likely to outperform that first year in 2024. And that is exactly what he is focused on this season.

"I felt like last year I definitely (had) games where I need to close out and I did not come through, and that is my goal. That is my number one goal. Honestly this year, it is just about you know being a closer. They brought me here for a reason. They brought me here to rush the passer. it does not matter if it is a sack or whatever, it is a pressure, get to the quarterback, affect the passer. So I feel like I did not (do) enough of that last year, and that is my number one goal is (to) train, (to) do everything it takes to get there. Whether it is getting off the ball, better technique, shed off the block faster, whatever it is, that is what I am working on right now."

Rams OLB Byron Young

In 2023, Young put up 8.0 quarterback sacks, eight tackles for a loss, 19 quarterback hitss, and 61 tackles. Even by conservative estimates, you can expect him to put up 10+ quarterback sacks, 10+ tackles for a loss, 23+ quarterback hits, and 76+ tackles in 2024.

While that is not enough to compensate for the loss of All-Pro DL Aaron Donald, it is one component of the solution for this defense. Best of all, Byron Young is not wilting from the pressure of 2024 without lining up beside Donald. Quite the opposite. He is taking on the responsibility head-on. It's that reaction to a new year, a new opportunity, that has fans thrilled to see him in action in 2024.

And I must admit that I am one of them. Thanks for reading.