Defensive Guru Predicts Unexpected Los Angeles Rams DL to Ignite Pass Rush

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Defensive football expert, Cody Alexander, author of the Match Quarters Substack released a season preview for the Los Angeles Rams on Wednesday, breaking down what the team’s defense will look like without Aaron Donald and under new defensive coordinator Chris Shula.

In the wake of those two big moves, the Rams made broad sweeping changes to the defensive personnel. While they invested most of their money into overhauling the defensive backfield, they opted to double down at the defensive line in the draft, picking Jared Verse and Braden Fiske with their first two picks.

Drafting talent is all well and good. But at this point, they are just potential. Fiske and Verse will be paired with sophomores Kobie Turner and Byron Young. It should go without saying at this point, the Rams lack experience along the defensive line.

Will Michael Hoecht Unlock the Los Angeles Rams Defense?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers
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But Alexander names a player with a bit more experience and some real pass-rushing chops.

Michael Hoecht is an interesting piece. He has the size of a DT, but the quickness and athleticism of Edge.”

Hoecht was brought on as an undrafted free agent by the Rams in 2020 as a 310 lbs defensive lineman. Even at that size, he was an impressive athlete….for a defensive tackle. His 4.65 40-yard dash from his pro day would have been the fastest DT time at this year’s NFL Combine and among the best compared to defensive ends. But he would have been one of the slowest outside linebackers, which is the position the Rams thrust him into last season. He dropped to 267 lbs, but still, his deficiencies in the position were glaring particularly in coverage. As a pure pass rusher, he excelled.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
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Alexander expects him to be used more strategically in the new paradigm.

“Hoecht can easily move inside in Ni packages and be a quick 3 tech…”

Alexander sees the defensive line as a strength because of the amount of good pieces that can be moved around and rotated, something as he says “[Raheem] Morris could argue he never really had the past few years.

“Donald was so dominant in the scheme that he was often the chess piece while other defenders became predictable. Now, with more depth, the team can potentially create more looks.”

Hoecht will be a major part of creating more looks, because of his combination of size and speed. And won’t be asked to drop into coverage eliminating his Achilles heel and focusing on what he does best, getting after the quarterback.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals
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