During his 10-year NFL career, the bulk of which was spent with the Tennessee Titans, linebacker Keith Bulluck was an absolute animal between the lines. His ability to get sideline to sideline to track down ball carriers as well as be effective in pass coverage in space was a dynamic skill set that few linebackers ever attain. Those skills earned him All-Pro honors three times as he finished with more than 1,000 career tackles. That’s why his former coach in Tennessee, Jeff Fisher, recruited the former linebacker to the St. Louis Rams to offer some pointers to the team’s first round selection from April, Alec Ogletree.
This is a savvy move by Fisher to bring in a former first rounder in Bulluck, who knows what the expectations will be like for Ogletree, to work with the young aspiring linebacker. Many believed Ogletree to have the potential of a top 10 player in the 2013 NFL Draft, but character concerns pushed him down the board. The Rams maneuvered their way into the top 10 picks to take one dynamic play-maker on the offensive side of the ball in Tavon Austin, and Ogletree has the same type of potential on defense.
If you remember back to last year’s draft, the Rams similarly gambled on a top 10 talent in cornerback Janoris Jenkins who slid all the way into the early part of round two due to off-field concerns. His mentor was another former Titan who is actually on the Rams roster in Cortland Finnegan, but that relationship paid huge dividends in his rookie campaign. If Bulluck’s presence can have a similar effect on Ogletree, this Rams defense could be scary good in 2013 and beyond.
Training camp can be a rough adjustment time for rookies coming into the league. Bulluck’s presence should help ease Ogletree in for the Rams and aid his ability to thrive in year one rather than simply tread water. With outstanding linebackers in Jo-Lonn Dunbar and James Laurinaitis already on the roster, the team is missing just one piece from having a dominant linebacking corps.
Watch for Ogletree to progress during camp and become a starter by the time the preseason winds down. His potential is through the roof, and with just a little guidance from the veteran presence of Bulluck he could easily become a stalwart on this young, stellar Rams defensive unit.