L.A. Rams rookie Byron Young dropped to the third round in part because NFL teams don’t typically salivate over 25-year-olds in the draft, but through his first four games it appears that life experience is only helping him get acclimated to the pros. Young had two tackles and a QB hit in Sunday’s 29-23 win over the Indianapolis Colts, giving him a total of eight QB hits through four games and two sacks.
Young’s eight QB hits ties him with Dallas Cowboys pass rusher Micah Parsons for the sixth-most in the NFL. He is only one QB hit behind Josh Allen and Matt Judon and only two QB hits behind the league’s highest-paid non-quarterback, Nick Bosa.
It’s lucky that as Leonard Floyd has had a fantastic start to his career with the Buffalo Bills, notching 3.5 sacks and seven QB hits to start the season, that his cheap rookie replacement has been about as effective as a pass rusher as his veteran predecessor.
Over his last two seasons at Tennessee, Byron Young had 23.5 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks in 24 games. He did this despite starting 2021 as a backup after transferring from Georgia Military College. At 6’2, 250 lbs with a 4.43 40-yard dash, Young possessed the physical attributes that teams want from outside linebackers at the NFL level, but not the experience despite being 25 at the time of the draft.
Working at Dollar General not long before his college football career took off, Young has acclimated well to Raheem Morris’s defense and it’s only been four games: He had multiple QB hits against the Seahawks, 49ers, and Bengals, and is already at 16 tackles for the season. Sunday’s win over the Colts was the first time that Young didn’t at least share in a sack of the quarterback, but he did get at least one hit on Anthony Richardson, an elusive player who is tough to bring down.
One thing that Byron Young doesn’t have yet, surprisingly, is a tackle for a loss. Maybe a more well-rounded defensive skillset is coming soon. Said teammate Aaron Donald recently, “I think (Byron Young) is getting better.”
Not only is Young doing this as a rookie and oftentimes overshadowed by classmates Puka Nacua and Steve Avila, but he’s done it as L.A.’s best outside linebacker. He’s not playing opposite of Von Miller or Floyd, but doing it opposite of Michael Hoecht. Of course, Donald helps a ton, as he does for everybody. However, the Rams have added and drafted plenty of hopeful pass rushers who didn’t have as much production in a full season as what Young has done in his first four games.
Up next is another mobile QB, Jalen Hurts. While Puka and Avila have added confidence to the offensive side of the ball in their first years, Young hasn’t fallen behind with his presence on the defensive side.