Two weeks ago, I looked at who might be the most overrated member of the 2019 Los Angeles Rams. Today, I’m tabbing my most underrated Ram for this season.
And it’s a wild one.
ILB Micah Kiser.
He isn’t a player that immediately comes to mind. During his rookie season last year after being selected with the 147th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Kiser was primarily a special teams player logging 63% of the snaps under Special Teams Coordinator John Fassell. And this sounds like an silly stat, but the dude played 16 games — he was healthy. After years of hoping LB Mark Barron’s ankles wouldn’t fall off, this is key!
But Kiser isn’t just a special teams guy. He’s a tackler. It’s his jam. Back in his college days at Virginia, Kiser led the ACC in tackles for three straight seasons, becoming the second player to ever do so.
For those skeptical that Kiser can make the leap to effective starter at inside linebacker, one only needs to look at the guy right next to him. ILB Cory Littleton thrived with the special teams unit before getting the nod to be a starter on defense. With the departure of Barron, Kiser is going to fit into that position with the major expectation of helping improve the Rams’ subpar run defense. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips said some positive things about Kiser in January:
“I think for where he is in his career and where we need him, it’ll be in those first and second-down plays for sure. Cory is such a good coverage guy and then we’ve got a lot of safeties that can come in and help us on third downs, so I think his main role certainly right now will be first and second down as a base defensive player.”
What makes Kiser underrated is that he didn’t play one single defensive snap last season and he’s a former fifth-round pick. Kiser is a smart player that relies on his instincts to find the guy with the football and drive him into the grass. The knock on Kiser is that he’s not a world class athlete and will most likely struggle covering tight ends across the middle. However, the defensive coaching staff seems like they know how to use him this season.
I can always get behind a player that has a great technique at his position; a dude with a natural feel for the game.
With the presumed mentorship of LB Clay Matthews, Kiser has the tools to put it all together this season while redefining the identity of the run defense for the LA Rams.