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Nick Hampton gives Rams much needed speed on the edge as pass rusher

Rams fifth-round pick Nick Hampton gives the defense some much-needed speed off the edge

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 20 Coastal Carolina at Appalachian State Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams doubled up on the edge rusher position early on in the 2023 NFL Draft. Leonard Floyd was cut in the offseason, leaving a big hole on the edge and the Rams needing a pass rusher to pair with Aaron Donald. In the third round, general manager Les Snead selected Byron Young out of Tennessee. Three selections later and with their first pick in the fifth-round, the Rams took Appalachian State edge rusher Nick Hampton.

Coming into the draft, the Rams needed bodies on the edge. Michael Hoecht was the only player on the roster who had recorded a sack at the position and he converted to edge rusher last season.

Both Young and Hampton will add to the pass rush rotation. However, Hampton brings something that the Rams didn’t have at the position and that’s speed.

This element of speed is something that the Rams missed in 2022. Floyd was more of a power-rusher and run defender and neither Terrell Lewis or Justin Hollins were speed rushers by any means. The Rams missed this with Von Miller and even Samson Ebukam to an extent.

Prior to every college football season, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman puts together a list of “College Football Freaks”. On a list of 100 players, Hampton checked in at 84. According to Feldman, Hampton hit 21 mph on the GPS which is insane for a player of Hampton’s size. This GPS data is certainly something that the Rams were aware of and had access to during the pre-draft process.

Going into the draft, I pegged Hampton as a fit for the Rams based on his athletic traits and athletic testing profile. The Rams like explosive players playing on the edge and Hampton’s explosiveness scores stood out at the combine. He tested in the 76th and 73rd percentile respectively in the vertical and broad jumps in Indianapolis. While his testing stood out, it was what he put on tape that made him such a good fit.

At Appalachian State, Hampton finished with 40 tackles for loss, 26.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles. He consistently plays with a high-motor and his ability to play in space made him a great fit for the type of player that the Rams have typically looked for at the position. His get-off at the snap makes him a difficult player to go up against.

The Rams may not have a star pass rusher on the edge currently on the roster. What they do have is variety and that’s something that will be valuable as this group grows with each other in what is considered to be a transition year.

Going from Appalachian State to the NFL will certainly be an adjustment for Hampton. Still, there is a lot of opportunity on the Rams roster, especially at the edge rusher position. Players like Hoecht, Young, Hampton, and even Keir Thomas and Daniel Hardy will likely all be in a rotation. However, don’t be surprised if that rotation includes a heavy dose of Hampton, especially on third downs, because of the speed that he brings to the table.