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Can a rookie linebacker help the Rams reach their ceiling in 2023?

Byron Young is expected to be biggest X factor for LA’s inexperienced defense

Los Angeles Chargers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Less than a month away from the season opener, fans of the Los Angeles Rams are still unsure as to how good this team will actually be in 2023. There’s no doubt that they’ll be competitive but will Sean McVay’s squad improve upon last year’s dismal 5-12 record?

In an ESPN article looking at win-loss record ceilings and floors for all 32 NFL teams, projections for LA were quite realistic and somewhat promising. The Rams’ ceiling was set at 10-7 with their floor being 5-12, the same record they ended with in ‘22.

According to reporter Dan Greenspan, LA’s success this season will ultimately be determined by their youngsters, namely rookie linebacker Byron Young:

“Rookies are being asked to step up at multiple positions for the Rams as they rebuild, so the newbies have a significant influence on the team’s success or failure. Nowhere is this more obvious than at outside linebacker, where third-round pick Young is a likely opening-day starter. Given the obvious need for pressure off the edge with the departure of Leonard Floyd — who had nine or more sacks in each of the past three seasons — the Rams would benefit immensely if Young’s mix of speed and power translates into a potent pass-rush force immediately.” per Dan Greenspan of ESPN

Los Angeles will have to rely on rookie contributors such as the rookie linebacker if they have any hope of returning to the postseason in the near future. Luckily Young appears ready for the challenge even if he’s a tad raw as a prospect thus far. That should be expected as young players need time for proper conditioning before they’re ready to take the field. For Young, his speed as a pass rusher is evident, as long as he avoids the helmet/facemask areas at all costs.

Young was proving to be a menace earlier this week in joint practices with the Raiders. The Tennessee product was seemingly energized by the pass rushing prowess of Aaron Donald that he decided the emulate the future Hall of Famer through dominating the opposing O-line.

I’ve previous stated that the Rams can win anywhere from seven-to-nine games this season, assuming the roster stays relatively healthy and the youngsters develop as expected. Honestly, 10 wins with this team is quite generous even in an uncertain NFC. All that the fan base should be focused on is whether Young can step up to the plate and deliver as his role increases.

I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration when I say that Byron Young’s success will make or break LA’s own success as well in the coming seasons.