All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner and the Los Angeles Rams agreed to mutually part ways on Thursday, a very unexpected turn of events given Wagner was coming off of his first season with the team after signing a 5-year deal in the 2022 off-season.
Rams and nine-time All-Pro LB Bobby Wagner mutually agreed Thursday to part ways, sources tells ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 23, 2023
Rams needs more cap space and Wagner wants to win. He will now be a notable part of this year’s free-agent class. pic.twitter.com/1A3KvudOhj
However, even though the move may be shocking, the Rams will have to move on nonetheless. In turn, the move frees up a little bit of cap space which is a positive, the negative would be that the team now has another need.
Ernest Jones is set to be the primary linebacker heading into next season, but the Rams will most likely have to bring in another man to compete for the spot alongside of Jones. I fully expect the team to address this need through the upcoming draft, so here are three guys that I believe the Rams should target:
1) TRENTON SIMPSON (CLEMSON)
One of my personal favorite prospects, regardless of position, is Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson. The NFL nowadays is centered around speed, speed, and even more speed, and Simpson does not lack in that category whatsoever. When he runs a 40-yard dash at the combine, people will be in absolute awe at the speed in which Simpson can run. At 6’3” 240 pounds, Simpson is a freak of nature, and is rumored to have a body fat percentage of just six.
Simpson displayed his sideline-to-sideline speed and range in his time at Clemson and, my favorite part about him, proved to be a violent tackler who wraps up at the point of contact. Following more of a down year for Simpson, draft analysts have mocked him anywhere between late 1st round all the way to the tail end of the 2nd round.
The Rams first pick will be 36th overall, an early selection in the 2nd round of the draft. If Simpson is available, Los Angeles should take a chance on an absolute freak of nature and allow him to play alongside a rising star in Ernest Jones.
2) HENRY TO’O’TO’O (ALABAMA)
If you have been paying attention to the University of Alabama football in the past couple of seasons, chances are you know exactly who Henry To’o’To’o is. As a transfer from the University of Tennessee, To’o’To’o fit right in to the Alabama culture, becoming a leader on one of the greatest college football program in recent history.
To’o’To’o racked up 67 tackles and had 3 sacks in his senior campaign last season, but struggled in pass coverage at times. At times, To’o’To’o relied heavily on his athletic ability in coverage rather than honing in on some of the technical aspects of covering, and the latter is much more important in finding success at the pro level.
As said earlier, Henry To’o’To’o is a natural born leader, and was a player that guys rallied around in college. He is a great run defender, and can bring a spark to any team that selects him whether that be defensively or on special teams.
3) JACK CAMPBELL (IOWA)
If the Rams value a player that is a sure tackler, they should look no further than University of Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell. In his time at Iowa, Campbell racked up a total of 199 tackles and 4 interceptions, solidifying himself as a cornerstone on a defense that was ranked number two in all of FBS football last season.
Campbell was named the 2022 Dick Butkus award winner, an award that goes out to college football’s best linebacker at the end of the season. At 6’5” 246 pounds, Campbell is a big body that craves contact and excels at diagnosing plays regardless of any gimmicks/misdirection's an offense may run. The ability to do so proves the football intelligence of Campbell, which is vital for a linebacker at the NFL level.
The knock on Campbell is his coverage ability, as he may struggle against pass-catching running backs and tight ends in one-on-one coverage. With that being said, Bobby Wagner was perhaps the best player on the Rams defense last season, despite being a step slower and struggling to cover. If the Rams find themselves in a position to select Campbell, they could find themselves a solid linebacker for years to come.