One of the many puzzles that the Los Angeles Rams will need to figure out during training camp is the pass rush rotation. Between Michael Hoecht, Byron Young, Nick Hampton, Ochaun Mathis, and others, the team will have a lot of young and unproven pieces to work with during training camp.
Speaking on the young edge rushers on Wednesday, McVay said,
“That’s such a young group, particularly at that outside linebacker position, and so you’ll see guys rolling through a bunch of different groups. I wouldn’t make too much of who’s rolling with the ones who’s rolling with the twos early on in camp. We just want to see these guys get reps in these actual 11-on-11 settings. (I’m) seeing a lot of improvement from those guys and they all bring a little bit different skill sets to the table.”
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 Nick Hampton.
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 his size. He’s also an extremely strong player as well.
At Appalachian State, Hampton finished with 40 tackles for loss, 26.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles. He continued to showcase his skillset at the Senior Bowl and the Rams selected him in the fifth-round of the NFL Draft.
The Good/Best Case Scenario
When it comes to the good with Hampton, he fits the typical profile that the Rams have looked for in their edge rushers. He’s an elite athlete with a raw skillset that can be molded. He has a similar profile as Samson Ebukam who had some success with the Rams as a day three draft pick.
Rams add one of the most underrated pass rushers in the class with Nick Hampton. Undersized but plays with his hair on fire. Uses his hands well too and has solid pass rush plan. Can dip and bend too. Dominated UNC: pic.twitter.com/zx1YYkdBFs— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) April 29, 2023
It’s not impossible, but unlikely that Hampton is a full-time starter in his rookie year. As a best case scenario, he makes an impact in a situational role in a rotation. That would seem to be the best early fit for the rookie edge rusher.
The Bad/Worst Case Scenario
One of the main concerns for Hampton is that he played at Appalachian State and didn’t face a lot of top-level competition. However, this didn’t deter him from performing well at the Senior Bowl back in February. He is still raw, but that’s to be expected for where he was drafted.
The worst case scenario for Hampton is that he comes in much more raw than expected and is unable to see the field as a rookie. That wouldn’t necessarily effect his long-term development. Still, in a “re-tool” season, it would be nice if he could get some live-game reps.
Biggest Question: Where does Nick Hampton fit in the pass rush rotation?
This is something that the Rams will need to figure out with all of their edge rushers. When it comes to Hampton, he seems best fit in a situational role early in his career. He is raw, but from an athleticism standpoint, that is something that the Rams can utilize. In pass situations or third down, Hampton will be a nice, fresh set up legs to be able to have in the rotation.
Hampton’s roster battle comes in the middle of the Rams edge rusher depth chart. He may not necessarily be competing with Hoecht or Young. However, he most certainly will be competing with Mathis, Thomas, and Daniel Hardy for snaps. Whoever shows that they can be the most effective among those players in a rotation will likely get the most snaps.
It will be crucial for Hampton to make an impact during the preseason and training camp. If he stands out in his opportunities, he’ll be hard to keep off of the field.
2023 Outlook and What to Expect
Until we see what Hampton can do, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect from him. At the end of the day, he’s a fifth-round pick and any sort of contribution as a rookie would be considered a win.
There will be a lot of opportunity with how much young and unproven talent that the Rams have at the position. If Hampton can find a spot in the pass-rush rotation during his rookie season, whether that’s on third downs or in other passing situations, that seems like a reasonable expectation.
Chances of Making Final Roster
Given the state of the edge rusher position on the Rams roster, Hampton is probably a lock to make the final roster. He was just drafted in the fifth-round and is someone that the Rams will want to keep around and develop.
Final Roster Confidence: 10/10