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2016 Rams Roster Preview: LB Zack Hodges Hopes To Provide Athleticism To The Rams Defense

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Zack Hodges has some impressive athletic traits, but only time will tell whether or not they are enough to keep him on the team.

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Zack Hodges was an Ivy League stud. During his time at Harvard, he was one of the best players in the conference and constantly looked like a man among boys. After a brief stint with the Indianapolis Colts last season, Hodges spent time with the 2015 St. Louis Rams as a practice squad player.

If there is anything that keeps teams interested in Hodges, it is his explosion. His change of direction skills are lacking, but set him in a straight line and he can cover ground in a hurry.

Hodges can fly off of the line of scrimmage and be in a lineman's face in an instant. Hodges has yet to show he can bend the edge or bull rush well enough to take full advantage of his explosion, though. He needs to be able to finish rushes.

Roster Battle

Hodges has a unique battle ahead of him. He has the versatility to play in an outside linebacker role or as a weak side pass rusher. His hips are a bit too tight for him to be a good linebacker, though, so his best shot may be as a weak side pass rusher.

Last year, the Rams tended to carry four defensive ends in Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Eugene Sims and William Hayes. When Quinn went down with an injury, Matt Longacre stepped into an active roster spot. Aside from Long, all of those players are back with the team this offseason. With the team also signing Quinton Coples to replace Long, there is little room for any new face to immediately make the roster.

Hodges' other shot at a roster spot is to play outside linebacker behind Akeem Ayers, where he is currently listed right now on Ourlads' depth chart. From there, Hodges would be asked to do a fair amount of blitzing and attacking the line of scrimmage.

It is a fairly simplified role that may allow him to have some value as a linebacker, possibly even as an outside pass rusher in 'under' looks from the defense.

Expectations

Hodges has some sort of advantage in that there is not another player on the roster like him. Nobody else has quite the same explosion and short area burst that he does. Few players are also as limited as Hodges, though. He is a linear player who must be used as an outside pass rusher or a battering ram of a linebacker, neither of which he would be exceptional at.

Chances of Making the Roster (2.5/10)

The hope for Hodges is that since he spent so much time with the team last year, it may be easier for them to find room for him on the active roster this year. Keeping him would provide a compact explosive pass rushing presence that no other player on the team has. Still, he is not dynamic enough at what he does to have a strong case as an active roster player, especially with as crowded as the Rams defensive end depth chart is.