During the draft, the LA Rams addressed what quite possibly was their biggest concern on the defensive side of the ball. That being the inside linebacker and edge rusher positions. Today we’ll look at two picks that could step in and push for a starting spot on this team.
Micah Kiser LB Virginia Round 5, 148th Overall
At Virginia, Kiser was a 3-year starter and a 2-time All-American selection. He possesses those terrific instincts against the run that you want from the position. His ability to shed blocks and rush the passer made him the 12th ranked inside linebacker in the draft by Walter-Football.com.
The knock against Kiser coming out was that he was a liability in pass coverage. At times hard-nosed runners could get more yards after contact because of his pad-level at the point of attack.
These are things experienced coordinator Wade Phillips can adjust for and develop. If he improves in pass coverage and tightens up his tackling fundamentals, Kiser could be a starter at linebacker for the Rams alongside Mark Barron.
Obo Okoronkwo OLB/DE Oklahoma Round 5, 160th Overall
Okoronkwo was the relentless pass rush specialist out of Oklahoma that the Rams can use to replace Robert Quinn. In college, Obo showed he can get to the passer by both putting his hand on the ground or standing up. In his two years starting for OU, he racked up 17 sacks and 5 forced fumbles. In 2017, he was voted Co-Big 12 defensive player of the year along with Texas LB Malik Jefferson.
One of the reasons Obo’s draft stock fell so far was, at times, he would often play too tall when rushing the passer. While this would still allow him to get passed less-talented linemen, he would have problems facing NFL tackles with solid technique. With that being said, he’s still a talented player with a high-motor and a nose for the quarterback.
These two can play immediately on special teams and with the Rams current roster, have a shot to push for a starting position. It will be interesting to see once training camp starts if they get reps with the 1st team just to put pressure on those currently in line to start. Despite not having a pick until the 3rd round, the Rams still solidly addressed their ‘need positions’ in the draft. Even if these rookies have a hard time adjusting to the NFL speed, fans shouldn’t be too worried. They have the potential to be legit starters by this time next year for the Rams.