One of the biggest storylines for the Los Angeles Rams this offseason has been Michael Hoecht’s switch from defensive line to edge rusher. After playing on the defensive line for the majority of his career, Hoecht moved to edge rusher last season and found some success. Now, heading into 2023, he is slated to start at the position ahead of a handful of rookies.
The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen recently listed players in a new scheme or new position to watch this season. On that list was Rams new edge rusher, Michael Hoecht. Here’s what Nguyen had to say,
“Hoecht signed with the Rams in 2020 as an undrafted free agent. He was a 6-foot-4 310-pound defensive tackle coming out of Brown. He didn’t play much until last season when he was forced to move to outside linebacker out of necessity. The Rams were running out of healthy bodies midseason and moved him...He had two sacks against the Seahawks and finished out the season with 4 1/2 sacks in the final seven games. This season, he’s slotted in as a starter...Hoecht has powerful hands and surprising closing speed. Right now, all he has is a bull rush. Presumably, he’s been working on adding moves to his repertoire — a long arm and a swim move would go a long way for him. There aren’t a lot of 300-pound edge linebackers out there, but it would be fun if Hoecht made some noise this season.”
Hoecht will certainly be a player that fans are watching throughout the preseason to see how he’s developed this offseason. Last year, Hoecht was thrown into the edge rusher position and was forced to learn on the fly. This year, he’s had a full offseason to prepare and train. It will be interesting to see how much of an effect that has. With no experience last year, Hoecht finished with 4.5 sacks. From weeks 13-18, Hoecht ranked 10th in the NFL in pressures among edge rushers with at least 300 snaps. However, his pass-rush win-rate was among the worst in the NFL during that period as well according to Pro Football Focus.
In one sense, Hoecht will have had an entire offseason to train as an edge rusher. Contrarily, without Leonard Floyd, he will also be a primary focus coming off of the edge with only rookies Byron Young and Nick Hampton on the other side.
Generating pressure off of the edge is going to be crucial for the Rams defense to find success this season and that starts with Hoecht. We’ll have to wait and see how much of a leap Hoecht took this offseason when the Rams finally take the field on Saturday against the Los Angeles Chargers.