The Los Angeles Rams will have a plethora of unproven talent at the edge rusher position in 2023. One of those players will be rookie third-round pick Byron Young out of Tennessee. Following the release of Leonard Floyd this offseason, there will be a lot of pressure for a young player like Young to come in and produce right away.
Between now and the Rams’ first preseason game, I’m going to preview approximately 45 players on the roster. The goal here will be to highlight players looking to take that next step in 2023 as well as players who will serve as key depth on the roster. I may expand into the occasional star or roster-bubble player, but for the most part we’ll be looking at the players who will truly make or break the Rams season.
Young had a Kurt Warner-esque story in his college career. While he finished at Tennessee, Young walked on at JUCO school Georgia Military College where he was able to show what he could do on tape to send to top Division I programs. Prior to playing at the JuCo level, he was working at a Dollar General and Burger King.
SEC leaders in pressures/game in 2022:— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) October 12, 2022
1. Byron Young, Tennessee (4.80)
2. BJ Ojulari, LSU (4.75)
t3. Will Anderson, Alabama (4.33)
t3. Derick Hall, Auburn (4.33)
With his athletic twitch and motor, Young continues to rise. pic.twitter.com/avPY3np5Ze
In two season with the Volunteers, Young accumulated 12.5 sacks, including seven in 2022. Last season, he ranked inside the top-25 in both pressures and pressure percentage according to Pro Football Focus. Young will be an older rookie at 25 years old, but will hopefully be more developed and ready to make an immediate impact.
The Good/Best Case Scenario
With Young, the Rams are going to be getting a player with a high motor who won’t be taking his NFL opportunity for granted. Young is extremely explosive as he posted scores in the 90th+ percentile in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and broad jump at the combine.
The best case scenario is that Young comes in and is able to make an immediate impact. That’s what the Rams will need as Michael Hoecht has the most experience at the NFL level and edge rusher isn’t even his most natural position. Raheem Morris and the defense need Young to be able to come in and show that he can at least be a complementary edge rusher as they spend big on the position next offseason.
The Bad/Worst Case Scenario
When it comes to the Rams’ third-round pick, he’s going to have a limited ceiling as a 25-year old rookie. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as he’s also going to be a more mature player than someone like BJ Ojulari who was just 21 entering the draft.
The Rams are going to need Young to adjust to the NFL game very quickly as he is presumably thrown into a starting role. Is that something that he’s going to be ready for? The worst case scenario here is that Young doesn’t show growth during his rookie season. While general manager Les Snead didn’t spend big on the edge rusher position this offseason, he invested heavily in it with two draft picks. With little to no growth from Young, it would likely mean starting over again in 2023.
Biggest Question: How much of an impact can Byron Young have as a rookie?
With an inexperienced secondary, there is going to be a lot of pressure on the pass rush being able to produce. The best thing to help a secondary is a pass rush. It typically takes time for edge rushers to make an impact at the NFL level. In the 2022 NFL Draft, there were a combined four sacks by edge rushers that were selected in the third round. Alex Highsmith was selected in in the third round of the 2020 draft. Highsmith is a very good edge player now, but had just two sacks as a rookie.
Byron Young arguably has the best first step from the 2023 draft class. I like the fit with the Rams.— Full-Time Dame (@DP_NFL) May 5, 2023
3rd & Long should have him on the same side of the formation as Aaron Donald. Allow these dudes to create chaos for opposing QBs! #RamsHouse pic.twitter.com/cJJVwXkElu
The Rams are going to need more than 2-4 sacks from their rookie edge rusher. Playing next to Aaron Donald should open up some opportunities. However, it will still be up to Young to take advantage of his one-on-one matchups.
The Rams will likely be rotating their edge rushers frequently as they also have Nick Hampton, Daniel Hardy, and Keir Thomas. Who plays will likely depend on the situation and who’s hot. It wouldn’t be surprising to see an “edge rusher by committee” approach. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it will keep players fresh and get young players more experience.
The edge rusher position is wide open and there is a lot of opportunity. If Young can show that he can play on all three downs, he could see the field early and often to begin his career.
2023 Outlook and What to Expect
It’s going to be important for Young to show enough this season where the Rams can feel comfortable about him going into year two. The ideal scenario would be for Young to develop and then spend big on the position during free agency next offseason rather than also having to potentially draft an edge rusher again in the first round. If Young ends with three to six sacks as a rookie, that should be considered a solid season.
Chances of Making Final Roster
Young was drafted in the third-round at 77th overall. It would be a shock for him not to be on the final roster.
Final Roster Confidence: 10/10