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Rams Roster Profile: Can Michael Hoecht make an impact on the edge?

Can Michael Hoecht take the next step on the edge next season?

NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams will have a lot of new and unproven talent on the defensive side of the ball in 2023. That’s especially true where the Rams have a rotation of Michael Hoecht and a bunch of rookies. Hoecht moved to edge rusher last season from the interior and found some success, but it’s worth wondering if he’s a long-term option or solution in that spot.

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 Michael Hoecht!

2022 Season in Review

Following the release of Terrell Lewis and Justin Hollins, the Rams had a need at edge rusher. Hoecht rose to the occasion after only ever playing alone the defensive line as the 3T or 5T. After moving to the edge, Hoecht found some success, finishing with 4.5 sacks.

There are still some concerns, however. All 4.5 of his sacks came in three games. His pass rush win percentage of 6.7 percent also ranked in the bottom-15 in the NFL. Hoecht showed some flashes, but was also a liability in the run game. With an offseason to train, will he take a step forward?

The Good/Best Case Scenario

It’s nice to see a player being willing to contribute wherever they are needed. Hoecht had never played on the edge before and not only did so, but seemed to improve. His run defense and sense to contain the edge got better as he played the position more.

It’s unrealistic to expect 10+ sacks out of Hoecht and for him to replace Leonard Floyd. With an offseason to train and prepare, it would be good to see some growth and a player who is more comfortable. If the Rams can get that, Hoecht can be a player who is part of the pass rush rotation moving forward.

The Bad/Worst Case Scenario

There are serious questions on whether or not Hoecht can be one of the Rams’ primary edge rushers given his lack of experience. He was inefficient as a pass rusher and despite improvement, had some flaws in the run game when it came to containing the edge.

The Rams need a player to be able to generate a pass rush off the edge. It’s unrealistic to expect that player to be Hoecht. In a worst case scenario, Hoecht doesn't show improvement and is someone who can only be used situationally.

Biggest Question: Can Michael Hoecht make an impact on the edge

Hoecht will have had all offseason to train and change his body type to fit the edge rusher position. It’s more than fair to have concerns here. He had 4.5 sacks last year, but a win percentage of just 6.7 percent. Hoecht had a solid pressure percentage at 7.5 percentage which was just behind guys like Max Crosby and Danielle Hunter. Still, there are a lot of questions.

When it comes to playing edge rusher for the Rams, you don’t necessarily need to be elite. Players like Dante Fowler Jr., Leonard Floyd, and others have found some success rushing the passer. The Aaron Donald effect is real. Hoecht just needs to take advantage of his opportunities and show that he can win his matchups.

Roster Battle

When it comes to Hoecht, he doesn’t really have a roster battle. There will be a battle on the depth chart for who sees the majority of the snaps at edge. In this case, Hoecht will be competing with Byron Young, Nick Hampton, and others. However, Hoecht isn’t in danger of losing a roster spot.

2023 Outlook and What to Expect

This will be a big year for Hoecht as the Rams have put a lot of confidence in him being able to make the transition to edge. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rams add to the position next season, but Hoecht could remain part of the rotation.

A solid season for Hoecht would be somewhere in the 6-8 sack range and showing growth at the position. That should be considered a successful year for Hoecht. This will be his first full season at the edge and he’s the most experienced player on the roster.

Chances of Making Final Roster

On most teams, Hoecht wouldn’t be a lock to make the roster as an edge rusher. However, with the current state of the position on the Rams, he absolutely is. It would be a shock if the Rams cut Hoecht.

Final Roster Confidence: 10/10