The St. Louis Rams head into the 2014 NFL season as a dark horse candidate to make the playoffs with a plethora of talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Robert Quinn and Chris Long are dynamic edge rushers, and second-year linebacker Alec Ogletree shined during his rookie campaign in 2013. Ogletree is one of the truly underrated breakout candidates in 2014.
Ogletree was chosen in the first-round of the 2013 NFL draft (30th overall) out of the University Of Georgia. He was not used as a featured pass rusher in 2013 with just 1.5 sacks, but he accumulated 95 tackles, a 98-yard interception return and six forced fumbles as his most notable accomplishments. Ogletree also received All-Rookie team honors from the PFWA.
It was clear when head coach Jeff Fisher added defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to his staff this offseason that he intended on implementing an aggressive mentality on defense. Williams’ undoubtedly made a mistake being involved in Bounty-Gate with the New Orleans Saints, but he served a hefty one-year suspension and there is no denying his ability to run a solid defensive unit. Williams simply profiles as a perfect presence for the pieces already in place in St. Louis.
Ogletree could benefit the most from Williams’ system. With Quinn and Long causing opposing offensive lines grief on the edge, the middle gaps will undoubtedly be vulnerable to pressure coming from behind the line and up the middle.
Outside linebackers have a responsibility in coverage and against the run so I wouldn’t predict Ogletree will be sent after the QB as much as an end, but expecting to see him in sub-packages and the zone blitz is a fair assumption. Ogletree should finish the season with eight sacks if he adjusts adequately.
Ogletree saw limited action during the Rams’ preseason opener against the Saints, but finished with one tackle. He’s an incredibly interesting player to follow this season as he develops into a perennial Pro-Bowler.