Sleeper IV: Nick Hampton, EDGE, Appalachian State
Appalachian State Edge rusher Nick Hampton is the second of three outside linebacker prospects who have made my Top-10 sleeper list and for good reason. This young man can certainly play the part from kickoff to the final gun. The 2023 NFL Draft has been described as a draft that is bursting with pass rushers, and Nick Hampton proves that point.
What I don't like about him: Because he is a small school Edge rusher, flashbacks to OLB Chris Garrett race to the front of my mind. It's not that I have nightmares over Garrett. It's simply that the experience over taking a less refined pass rusher did not deliver, and so one bitten twice shy I'm afraid. He is a bit raw, an incomplete arsenal of pass rush moves, countermoves, and the experience and strategy necessary to deliver consistent pressure on the quarterback.
What I do like about him: The opportunity to add a rookie from Bruce Feldman's "Freaks List" is never a bad idea. But if the goal is just to add a track star to the defense, that may not necessarily be a good idea either. While he appears on my list as an EDGE rusher, he is more accurately a hybrid ILB/OLB in a similar style as former LA Rams ILB/OLB Justin Hollins.
He has the wingspan of an albatross, and those long meathooks can create havoc in pass defense, allow him to push off would-be blockers, and serve as effective meathooks as he rounds the corner and reaches out to bring down quarterbacks. Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 236 pounds, he can serve as either at the inside linebacker or outside linebacker role. Because he can fill in either role, he adds significant flexibility to an NFL team's roster, as he can fill in multiple roles on defense.
Ultimately, he makes a lot of sense for the LA Rams draft as a solid addition because he can fill multiple roles on defense, and because he gives solutions to multiple questions regarding the Rams defense.