THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis were both waived during the 2022 season, and Leonard Floyd was released ahead of the start of the new league year, leaving the Rams' outside linebacker room currently with Daniel Hardy and defensive tackle-turned-outside linebacker Michael Hoecht.
Thus, it's not entirely surprising that experts view it as a position of need entering the 2023 NFL Draft.
If Los Angeles does address outside linebacker/EDGE via the draft, one of the biggest things they look for in the position is a "dynamic playmaker," according to linebackers coach/pass rush coordinator Chris Shula.
"You want guys that jump off the tape, and basically when I say that, it's just, when the tape is running, you don't even know you're watching, you could just pick out the guy easily," Shula said. "So the first thing we look at is guys that are violent and explosive. You want playmakers, you want guys that are game wreckers, right? Always the thing you look for is guys that can rush the passer. That's just kind of standard."
It's also important that those players have the ability to set the edge and be stout in the run game, which places a premium on them having length and being able to get off blocks and run to the ball.
Functional play in space is also an important trait to have given what the Rams ask of their outside linebackers at times.
"Because we ask our outside backers to do a little bit in space," Shula said. "They don't have to be Leonard Floyd, but at least functional. So the ability to kind of be able to play on their on their feet, stuff like that," Shula said.
Floyd stands out as the best example, but is also unique in that he's a Top-10 pick and not many edge defenders are 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. That exception aside, the Rams have still had other players who have fit that mold come through L.A. like Samson Ebukam, Dante Fowler, Ogbo Okoronkwo and Clay Matthews.
Now led by new outside linebackers coach Joe Coniglio, whoever the Rams bring in at that position will have a "great opportunity," Shula said.
"We're looking to surround our guys that are staples with some smart, tough guys that play physical and fast," Shula said. "It's an opportunity for some guys to play early."