The 2017 season was the first campaign for Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips with the talented Los Angeles Rams defense, as he looked to fit existing personnel into his highly touted 3-4 scheme.
The results were mixed.
The Rams were 12th in points allowed, but 28th in rushing yards allowed. In an effort to muscle up against the run, the Rams traded team captain ILB Alec Ogletree, who had some excruciating missed tackles and a hefty salary for the inside linebacker position. The team took a step towards solidifying the vacant Mike position when they used the 147th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, a 5th round pick, on Virginia bruiser Micah Kiser.
He is everything you might envision a Mike backer to be: a team-leading, run-stopping, tackle machine of which he had 408 in his four seasons at Virginia. Kiser is slightly smaller than Ogletree, but still is considered more of an in-the-box type of player. Should he eventually earn a starting role over fellow linebackers Cory Littleton and Bryce Hager, Kiser’s skill set would seem to be a nice compliment to the rangy and athletic Mark Barron who currently mans the other Inside position.
The Rams are hoping that Kiser’s dominant level of productivity at the collegiate level translates into the pros. He has a knack for being in the right place due to his ability to read and diagnose plays and could be an excellent defensive signal caller at some point.
The linebacker puzzle remains a work in progress for the 2018 Rams. While young vets like Littleton and Hager will have a head start in Wade’s system, Kiser will likely make a run sooner or later. Barring injury to a player ahead of him, expect Kiser to start the season as the second or third string backup.
It will be difficult for Kiser to be Kiser as a backup. It’s tough to lead a defense in limited playing time. Unless the Rams are having trouble against the run again early on in 2018, expect Kiser to take a season to learn the NFL game and make a serious run at the starting position in his second season. If he impresses Phillips enough to become a starter in his rookie season, Rams fans should consider this 5th round pick to be a coup.
Chances of Making Final Roster (9/10)
There’s always a chance that a player’s skill set simply doesn’t translate at the next level, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Kiser. He should be on the roster. The kid appears to have a great attitude and seems to be the kind of high character player that the Rams seemed to really value a year ago and will surely still appreciate.