There seems to be a huge fascination for smallish inside linebackers who can double as defensive backs, or large defensive backs who can double as inside linebackers, in LA Rams DC Raheem Morris's defensive scheme. And it just so happens that Boston College defensive back Jaiden Woodbey fits that profile. To simplify things, I'd referred to that role as the Super Saiyan role.
A quick summary
But wait, didn't the LA Rams waive ILB/DB Jaiden Woodbey? Yes, they did. But the team signed him to a contract two days later. Perhaps with so many rookies onboarding simultaneously, even the Rams' front office is getting some wires crossed? In any case, the Rams added 6-foot-0 222-pound rookie safety Jaiden Woodbey, and have listed him on the Rams roster as an inside linebacker.
What I don't like about this signing
I never know with hybrid players whether it's an example of a perfect fit to fit a very specific niche player, or whether the Rams front office signed a player which the Rams coaching staff is still scratching their heads over how to best optimize his skill sets.
Even his RAS score, set to compare him to other strong safeties, is relatively useless because that is not the way the Rams intend to deploy him:
Even on good years, with far fewer rookies, it's awfully difficult to custom-design a defensive role for a hybrid player. This season, that appears to be awfully ambitious.
What I like about this signing
Nobody knows what position Jaiden Woodbey will play in the NFL. NFL Draft Scout projects him to be an outside linebacker. Most major draft profiles projected him as a strong safety. The LA Rams see him as an inside linebacker, serving as or swapping out for a defensive back on passing downs.
It's clear that the donut hole defense of Brandon Staley's design remains a concern for the LA Rams. If you recall, the Rams 2020 defense was the best in the NFL, but late in the season proved to have a huge hole in the middle of the defense that savvy offensive coordinators and quarterbacks could exploit relentlessly. Since the 2021 Playoff Divisional Round loss to the Green Bay Packers, Morris has addressed that weakness in various ways. Woodbey, if he can make the roster, is one more option for the Rams to address crossing routes and running backs slipping out of the backfield.
What I love about this signing
While he didn't quite vault himself into the 2023 NFL Draft, he certainly carried plenty of positive buzz when he transferred from Florida State University to Boston College. Jaiden Woodbey had a solid four-year collegiate career, ending with 138 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, one interception, three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, one fumble returned for a touchdown, and 12 passes defensed.
Woodbey is truly the 'Jack of all trades, master of none,' player on the LA Rams roster. And with his swiss army knife ability to do so many things well enough to hold his own, he could be an incredibly valuable player to have on the roster as the season progresses and injuries begin to take their toll. With so many useful roles, his best bet is to excel on special teams, earn a roster spot there, and gradually find his defensive niche over time.
What are his chances of making the roster?
I have next to no confidence that Woodbey can carve out a niche role for himself on a defense with so many new faces and moving parts. He has a chance to get noticed on Special Teams, but only if he makes incredible plays. I believe that his best chance right now is to shoot for a spot on the LA Rams practice squad. But even there, I cannot expect his chances any better that 50/50 of remaining on the team.