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Rams Roster Profile: Can Daniel Hardy find a role in the pass rush rotation?

Can Daniel Hardy find a role in the Rams’ pass rotation in 2023?

Los Angeles Rams Training Camp Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams have a lot of unproven talent on the defensive side of the ball at nearly every position. However, one position where that is particularly the case is on the edge. After cutting Leonard Floyd, the Rams have been left with Michael Hoecht, Daniel Hardy, Keir Thomas, and three rookies.

While there is a lot of unproven talent on the edge, there is also a lot of opportunity for someone to make their mark at the position. One player that fans will keep their eyes on this offseason is 2022 seventh-round pick, Daniel Hardy out of Montana State.

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.

Today, we’re looking at Daniel Hardy.

2022 Season in Review

Hardy didn’t play a lot for the Rams in 2022. He suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason which derailed his rookie year before it ever had a chance to begin. He played in 41 total snaps on defense and accumulated one pressure against the Denver Broncos. In his preseason debut, Hardy had two pressures against the Houston Texans.

The Good/Best Case Scenario

Hardy is an absolute athlete at the edge rusher position. He may be a bit smaller at just 6’1, 235-pounds, but his explosiveness is among the best. The Rams really need the athleticism to translate to on the field production.

For a seventh-round pick, Hardy shouldn’t have a lot of expectations, but the athleticism is certainly something to be excited about. The best case scenario in year two is that Hardy finds a role in the pass rush rotation and is able to have an impact on defense.

The Bad/Worst Case Scenario

Unfortunately, Hardy started his rookie season injured with a high-ankle sprain. Even with some of the opportunity at edge, beginning the year with an injury can make it difficult to find a role and work into the team. As a raw player, Hardy needs experience and he wasn’t able to get a lot of that last season even after the Rams cut Terrell Lewis and Justin Hollins.

The worst case scenario for Hardy is that he struggles to find a role during training camp and gets cut from the roster. Keir Thomas got experience last year and Ochaun Mathis is another raw, athletic edge rusher. Making the final 53-man roster is all but a guarantee for Hardy.

Biggest Question: Can Daniel Hardy find a role in the pass rush rotation

The answer to this will be crucial to Hardy making the final roster. With no bonafide, star edge rusher, the Rams will likely be working in a heavy rotation. Hardy needs to be able to find a role whether that’s being a speed rusher on third down or being someone who can be let loose in passing situations.

Hoecht and Young will likely dominated the majority of the snaps. However, the Rams will be looking for players who can make an impact behind them in certain situations. Hardy will need to be able to show that he can do that. Again, he has the athleticism. However, that needs to translate to on-field production.

Roster Battle

When it comes to the edge rusher position, the Rams have six players competing for four or five spots. Young and Hoecht will be locks. This leaves Hardy, Thomas, Mathis, and Nick Hampton. Hampton also has a good chance to make the roster.

Hardy will likely be competing with Mathis and Thomas for the final roster spots. Thomas found some success in the preseason last year. Meanwhile, Mathis’ transfer from TCU to Nebraska didn’t go as planned. Still, he was a four year starter and has ideal traits for the position. This is going to be a difficult decision for the Rams to make.

2023 Outlook and What to Expect

If Hardy makes the roster, the expectation should be for him to work his way into the pass rush rotation. With the limited options and no number one guy they can lean on, the Rams will need a handful of players who can all do different things.

The preseason will be big for Hardy. He’ll need to stay healthy and show that he can make an impact during games.

Chances of Making Final Roster

Making the final roster isn’t going to be easy for Hardy and he’s likely on the bubble entering training camp. This will be an interesting competition to watch as the Rams figure out their pass rush arsenal.

Final Roster Confidence: 4.4/10