This is part six of a nine part series previewing each position on the St. Louis Rams in 2015. They will go as follows:
1 – QB
2 – RB/FB
3 – WR/TE
4 – OL
5 – DL
6 – LB
7 – CB
8 – SS/FS
9 – Special Teams
Part Six – Linebacker
Linebackers currently on the St. Louis Rams roster:
Akeem Ayers – Ayers was with the Patriots in 2014, winning the Super Bowl. He signed with the Rams this past season and with James Laurinaitis at MLB, Ayers will likely start at outside linebacker.
Daren Bates – You probably know Bates the most from the game against Giants last year when he jumped over the center and blocked a field goal. Bates has been with the Rams for the last two seasons after going undrafted in 2013. Bates saw limited time on defense in 2014, but was a key special teamer for the Rams the last two seasons and will continue to fill that role.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar – Dunbar has been a key linebacker for the Rams since they signed him in 2012. But Dunbar turned 30 this past spring and is starting to age; which is one of the reasons bringing Akeem Ayers to this linebacker core will help prolong Dunbar’s career. Dunbar won’t have to play nearly as often as he has in past seasons.
Bryce Hager – The Rams drafted Hager in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Hager is small for a middle linebacker, being 6’1” 234 lbs. but Hager has great pursuit and has great lateral movement. The Rams have a great D-Line, which would keep Hager free if he played. Hager will be a quality special teamer in his rookie year and could evolve into a great linebacker for the Rams. I think he is the ultimate sleeper pick that the Rams had in 2015.
James Laurinaitis – Laurinaitis has had at least 100 tackles in each of his six NFL seasons (all with Rams). Laurinaitis has also never missed a game in his six year NFL career. He will continue to lead the Rams LB core.
Cameron Lynch – The Rams kept six linebackers on their final roster in 2014 and will likely do the same or something close to that. Lynch was signed as an undrafted free agent this past spring. He was a standout at Syracuse but lacks size, coming in at 5’11” 229 lbs. He will be competing with Keshaun Malone and Marshall McFadden for a roster spot.
Keshaun Malone – The odds are already against Malone, as he is coming out of Bacone College, an NAIA school. He was a standout there. He is 6’2” 260 lbs. It will be an uphill climb but he will be competing for a spot with Lynch and McFadden.
Marshall McFadden – McFadden spent 2014 on the Rams practice squad and as aforementioned, he will= be competing with Lynch and Malone for a roster spot.
Alec Ogletree – In his short two-year career, Ogletree has totaled 228 tackles and three interceptions. He has been great for the Rams will be a starter again at outside linebacker and will be opposite Akeem Ayers.
Korey Toomer – Toomer has spent time with the Seahawks, winning a Super Bowl with them in 2013. He spent 2014 with the Cowboys and then the Rams. He was one of the LBs on the active roster in 2013 and will look for more playing time in 2015. It will be tough in such a crowded LB core but Toomer has had more time to learn and develop and should see the field more in 2015.