This guy refuses to go away
it's almost impossible to recollect the modest beginning of now-veteran outside linebacker Michael Hoecht with the LA Rams team. He was an undrafted addition to the Rams roster in 2020, a defensive tackle who never heard his name called out in the NFL Draft. That was the same year that the NFL fought off a COVID-19 outbreak, and Hoecht was forced to spend some time on the Rams' COVID-19 IR list early in his NFL career.
Hoecht was not an immediate sensation for the Rams. Blessed with a football background at multiple positions, including running back, and with amazing speed for a defensive lineman, Hoecht was the NFL's version of an athletic player whose abilities opened up many options for the team to consider adding to his football arsenal.
His NFL career took a turn for the better in 2022 when the Rams outside linebackers were released mid-season in a batch waiving process that left the Rams roster to compete with only veteran OLB Leonard Floyd, several rookies as outside linebackers, and a DT who cross-trained to OLB named Michael Hoecht. Even after Hoecht proved to be effective in the role in 2022, he was singled out by Bleacher Report to be a complete bust in 2023.
So far, he is holding his own and refused to go away.
Hoecht may not be terrorizing opposing quarterbacks yet, but he is certainly mastering his newly defined role as outside linebacker. And as time passes, he continues to improve. In 845 defensive snaps this season, he has 68 tackles, 4.5 quarterback sacks, two pass defenses, one forced fumble, six tackles for a loss, and nine quarterback hits, He has improved on his pass defense, now allowing just 23 of 29 passes to find their intended receiver, which equates to 79.3 percent.
The problem is that Hoecht has not gotten a quarterback sack in the past four games. But, I think that can change in Week 17.
The Rams as a team have not been a pass rushing terror this year. The team has been forced to focus on eliminating strong rushing attacks, or merely corral dual-threat quarterbacks who have the ability to move the chains by running to daylight every time they drop back to pass. While the New York Giants Tyrod Taylor has the ability to scramble for a first down, I don't see the Giants offensive line as stout as many the Rams have faced in recent weeks. And with Hoecht's speed, he can be the Rams heat-seeking missile to run down Taylor for a desperately needed sack.