Middle linebacker has been an intriguing position for the Rams in recent years.
On one hand, you have ultra-durable James Laurinaitis as your starter. JL55 is a leader on the defense and is one of the hardest working players in the NFL. Superlatives aside, depth has been a major concern behind Laurinaitis pretty much since he's been drafted.
Now Bryce Hager is the latest in a line of late round draft picks in the attempt to fill that backup role. Rams fans have seen Aaron Brown, Josh Hull and Jabara Williams all largely fail to show enough promise to stick around long term. While Williams made cameos and Hull stuck around as a core special teams player for a few years, neither could handle their business at LB and are no longer with the team.
Enter Hager, the son of Jeff Fisher-Coached Britt Hager and the latest attempt by Snead and Fish to fill out the MLB depth chart.
You can pretty easily pencil five Linebackers into the Rams final 53-Man roster: James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, Akeem Ayers, Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Daren Bates. I've heard some fans rumbling that Dunbar could be cut, but I think his fire on the field and history with Gregg Williams keeps him on the roster.
That leaves Hager competing with Korey Toomer, Cameron Lynch and journeyman Marshall McFadden for a roster spot. The Rams have kept seven linebackers in the past so this could get interesting in camp.
For any late-round pick or undrafted free agent, showing that they can contribute on special teams as well as their primary position is vital. Hager will have to show that he is reliable in that aspect if he wants any chance at making the roster. If Hager can prove his worth on special teams, I think he has a leg up on McFadden and Toomer.
Chances of Making Final Roster (5/10)
Call me an idealist, but every draft pick should make the team. I understand that doesn't happen though. I see Hager as another Josh Hull. Someone who could be a core special teams guy with the potential to develop into a viable backup to JL55.