Coming into the 2022 NFL season, the Los Angeles Rams had high expectations as the defending Super Bowl champions looking to run it back.
Unfortunately though, the season hasn’t played out how anyone in that building had hoped as the Rams sit at 5-11 going into their final game, already eliminated from postseason contention.
With the Rams struggling so much, not many players have emerged as pieces to build around moving forward. There are a few players who have exceeded expectations through despite the team’s struggles, and here are five:
Wagner obviously came into this season with high expectations as a future Hall of Famer that the Rams signed to a five-year contract in free agency. Even though the expectations for him were high though, Wagner has still exceeded them for me and deserves to be on this list.
At 32 years of age, Wagner is having one of the best seasons of his career. He is leading the Rams with 133 total tackles, just 10 off from setting a team record which he can accomplish in Week 18 against the Seattle Seahawks – his former team. He also has a career-high six sacks to go along with two interceptions and five passes defended.
Wagner has played in all 16 games and has hardly missed a snap, serving as the Rams’ leader in what has been another terrific individual season for him.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have Durant. When the Rams drafted him in the fourth round in 2022 out of South Carolina State, he wasn’t expected to see much time on the field in his rookie season.
With the Rams dealing with so many injuries though, Durant has gotten extended snaps in recent weeks and has shown that he belongs at this level. In 14 games, Durant has led the Rams with three interceptions to go along with five passes defended and a sack. He also leads the entire NFL with 151 interception return yards, including a touchdown against the Denver Broncos on Christmas Day.
Going into 2023, Durant may be the favorite to start opposite Jalen Ramsey for the Rams at cornerback.
In his second season with the Rams, Hoecht wasn’t expected to make much of an impact. He mainly played on special teams in 2021 and that was expected to be the case again this year.
Due to injuries and the Rams struggling to get a pass rush though, they have given Hoecht a chance on defense in the second half of the season and he has made the most of it.
The defensive lineman has started playing snaps on defense in the last six games and in that span has 29 total tackles, three tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, seven quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
It’s no secret that the Rams will need to add a pass rusher this offseason, but with this type of production from Hoecht, he will surely figure into the mix in 2023.
Scott first began to emerge in the Rams’ Super Bowl run when he filled in admirably for the injured Jordan Fuller and Taylor Rapp in the postseason.
The former seventh-round pick out of Penn State has taken on a full-time starting role at safety this season though and has played well. In 16 games, Scott has 86 total tackles with two interceptions, two forced fumbles and five passes defended.
With Rapp entering free agency this offseason, the Rams will continue to lean on Scott as a starting safety in 2023.
Similar to Wagner, there already were high expectations for Gay coming into the 2022 season and he has managed to exceed them. Gay has made field goals at a 92.6% rate and extra points at a 96.8% rate, which are higher than his career averages of 87.5% and 95.1%, respectively.
He is set to enter free agency this offseason and there’s no doubt the Rams need to sign him to a long-term deal to lock up the kicker position.