Now, you might ask: so what? The Rams made tons of trades this offseason.
Well, none of them (outside of Ogletree) were players who were handed a 4-year $43M extension and moved just five short months later. I honestly can’t even think of the last time something like that happened in the NFL, or if it ever has.
That’s why it was shocking.
Nevertheless, the trade likely spoke a lot about what the Rams thought of Ogletree, but not only that, the backup option - ILB Cory Littleton.
Littleton proved his worth as a Special Teamer last season also getting his chance on defense by way of injury to both Ogletree and Mark Barron. Littleton started four games totaling 36 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble (which resulted in a Safety), one interception, and one blocked punt that went for a Touchdown. That’s quite a bit of productivity for a guy who didn’t get much playing time.
Through film study I tried to find a variety of situations for Littleton last season. I wanted to see if I could set out and find a LB who can do what’s going to be asked of him as a starter in 2018 - shedding blocks, stuffing his nose against the run, dropping in coverage (both man and zone), and blitzing.
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips likes versatile ILB’s who have the ability to perform in all three phases of the game. Littleton’s 2018 - though short - checks that box, and was likely a big reason the Rams decided it was okay to move on from Ogletree. It also doesn’t hurt that Littleton is 1/15th the price.
Anyways, have a look at some plays I dug up on Littleton. He may be hard to identify on some snaps, but typically look at SLB or ILB #58, wearing a long white sleeve underneath on some clips.
Let's take a look at some of Cory Littleton's versatile skill-set. I didn't highlight who he is in these videos, but look at either SLB or ILB #58. Wears long white sleeves in some videos.— Sosa (@QBsMVP) June 1, 2018
Lots of variety in his ability, get excited #Rams fans. pic.twitter.com/mFLjfMrkFn
I believe this clip of about 10 plays shows Littleton’s will, talents, and versatility pretty well.
But don’t get me wrong, he had some hiccups in 2017 too. In week 17 vs the San Francisco 49ers, Littleton had trouble covering George Kittle allowing two long receptions to the Tight End. He missed a few tackles. He trusted his eyes too much at times.
Littleton’s determined to make an impact vs the run. Though he can get washed out by blocks at times he’s shown the ability to slip by and evade blockers to make tackles in the backfield. His closing speed and pursuit are very good as well, aiding him if his eyes fail (as they did in one clip above).
For only a second-year player who wasn’t drafted, Littleton has shown enough promise and has worked his way into earning more snaps. Luckily for him he’ll have a chance to showcase his skills in 2018.