Alec Ogletree has seemingly transitioned into a complete linebacker. He's a splash play machine, who regularly finds himself near the ball.
Unfortunately for him -- but fortunately for Rams fans -- he plays for the Rams, where it takes unworldly hype coming in, or the looks of a future hall of fame inductee, to be noticed without a winning record. Take Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald for example. Gurley was being compared to Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch -- the two best backs in the league at the time, and one and a half sure fire hall of fame candidates -- coming out of college. As for Aaron Donald, well he only looks like the greatest thing since the invention of pizza.
Ogletree, hasn't been Donald good, and he didn't have the hype surrounding him that Gurley had coming out, so due to the fact that he has played three years on a losing team (a 27-36-1 record) he's not viewed as a premiere linebacker in this league.
I say all of this to make this point; Ogletree has performed like a top 7 or 8 player at his position, and one has to believe he will only be better at middle linebacker.
Upon the release of James Laurinaitis, Fisher made it perfectly clear that the middle linebacker position will be filled by moving Ogletree to the inside.
The Mike backer is a great position to play for more action. He has a shorter distance to travel to get to the edges, and a good one is usually the first one to the ball carrier on runs between the tackles.
But the absolute best part of Ogletree playing inside is his pass defense. Ogletree is a top three coverage linebacker in my opinion. He's far more consistent in coverage than run defense, and that says a lot. Playing in the middle will help disguise his coverage as he will not be lined up right on top of the tightend or bumped over for the back. He's now at a neutral position to take either without ever tipping his hand. Furthermore, when the slot is bumped in, he can even take that man.
Gregg Williams has so many exotic defensive formations and a few have flashed Ogletree at the mike position before. So he's not completely unfamiliar with how the role works. In fact, he's already confident that he is ready to roll, and there will be no drop off in play.
Because of Ogletree's tendency to make plays (10 FF -- three interceptions --one TD regular season, 12 FF -- 5 interceptions -- 2 TDs preseason included) over his first three seasons, and his move to have easier paths to the ball -- and let's not exclude he worked closely under Laurinaitis since the day he arrived and Laurinaitis is one of the smartest Mike linebackers in the NFL -- the odds are in Ogletree's favor to have a nice productive season.
Alec Ogletree 2016 season stat prediction:
- 165 total tackles
- 3 sacks
- 3 interceptions
- 6 forced fumbles
- No post season accolades