The logic of people compiling lists and declaring the best of the best during the offseason often doesn’t make much sense. How that relates to linebacker James Laurinaitis is his ridiculous omission from the recent NFL Top 100 list. The St. Louis Rams‘ tackling machine has been the model of consistency during his four years in the league thus far, and there’s absolutely no way he isn’t a top 100 player in the NFL.
Regardless of that glaring oversight by the almighty list committee somewhere in fantasy land, Laurinaitis will still suit up and do his thing in St. Louis this coming season. That really is his niche in the league as a quiet producer who just goes out and does his job on a weekly basis. At 6’2” 250lbs. he has the size to step up and fill the hole in the run game while still having the speed and range to cover receivers in space. Laurinaitis really is the prototypical middle linebacker for a 4-3 defense if you were to sit down and formulate a blueprint.
His job last season was a bit more enjoyable with a fellow productive player in Jo-Lonn Dunbar alongside him. Laurinaitis has been used to doing the bulk of the heavy lifting himself in the Rams linebacking corps, but that may get reduced even further this season with the addition of Alec Ogletree in the 2013 NFL Draft. Laurinaitis will certainly be taking on a mentor role with the youngster in showing his the ropes of the professional game.
Still with not even a Pro Bowl to his name, the personal accolades should start pouring in soon for the former Ohio State Buckeye. Laurinaitis was even overlooked coming out of Columbus as he slipped to the second round of the draft where the Rams smartly grabbed him up back in 2009. He has yet to have a season under 114 tackles, and his leadership as the quarterback of the defense has been infectious to an up-and-coming group.
There is a certain hunger in James Laurinaitis’ game that can’t be described. He plays with larger goals than simple cashing a paycheck while still keeping it simple and taking things one play at a time. With another ultra-productive season on the horizon, look for Laurinaitis to crack the elusive Top 100 next season, add a Pro Bowl to his resume, and potentially lead the Rams to the postseason for the first time during his stay there in 2013.