Brought in as a seventh-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, LB Bryce Hager may be best known as the compensation for the trade that sent former RB Zac Stacy to the New York Jets.
The second-year linebacker appeared in every game last season strictly playing as a member of the Rams special teams units, logging five tackles. Hager was a former three-year starter at Baylor where he manned the middle of a defense that struggled to keep up with the pace of Big XII offenses. He accumulated over 300 total tackles with a solid 24 of those coming behind the line of scrimmage. He is more of a traditional LB that lacks some of the athleticism the Rams have elsewhere among their hybrid linebacking core.
Incumbents Alec Ogletree, Mark Barron, and Akeem Ayers will get the majority of the playing time as the Rams shift towards a more multiple look defense using LB and S combinations. Hager will be fighting to remain a cog on special teams units and help fill void left by Daren Bates with other LBs Cameron Lynch and recently drafted Josh Forrest along with a slew of UDFAs. Going into camp, Hager should be Ogletree’s primary backup as the middle linebacker but doesn’t figure to get in any sub packages on a regular basis.
The second year player will have to earn his keep on special teams once again as the Rams look to continue being one of the league’s best ST units. Rams coaches praised Bates knowledge and ability to step in if needed in years past and you should expect to hear them echo the same sentiments for Hager this season.
Chances of Making Final Roster (8/10)
With Rams being on the lighter side within their LB core, injuries across the length of the season are bound to arise. Having a LB with Hager’s college experience could be the kind of safety net the Rams look to keep on the roster. Backend roster players must provide special teams ability and Hager was a prominent member of last year’s squad and figures to be right in the heart of it again this season.