The Los Angeles Rams are bringing an important piece of their defensive line from St. Louis to Southern California with them.
Simmons noted Hayes was an important “force alongside defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers” last season. Hayes was second on the Rams with 5.5 sacks and 41 pressures in 2015 and will “still be first up on the depth chart at defensive end,” per Simmons.
The former fourth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2008 joined the Rams before the 2012 campaign and gives them some continuity along the line moving forward. Here is a look at his career totals as an important figure in the 4-3 rotation:
|Season||Team||Games||Combined Tackles||Sacks||Forced Fumbles||Fumble Recoveries|
|2012||St. Louis Rams||16||35||7||0||1|
|2013||St. Louis Rams||14||28||5||0||2|
|2014||St. Louis Rams||16||42||4||1||1|
|2015||St. Louis Rams||16||53||5.5||2||0|
Pro Football Focus dug a bit deeper into Hayes’ impressive numbers:
William Hayes tied for the league lead in run stop percentage among 4-3 DEs (11.5%), and ranked 6th in per-snap pass rushing productivity.— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 10, 2016
This move comes after former Rams defensive end Chris Long signed with the New England Patriots, per ESPN’s Trey Wingo. Considering Long has been a mainstay up front for the Rams defense since 2008, Los Angeles needed to make sure it didn’t lose another piece.
It relies heavily on that defensive line and was 11th in the league in total sacks last season. The defense was also 13th in points allowed per game, which helped the Rams overcome an offense that was dead last in the NFL in total yardage and 29th in scoring offense.
Ideally, the defense will continue to be a strong point for the Rams as they head to Los Angeles, and bringing back a defensive end in Hayes who is so strong against the run and as a pass-rusher is an important step.
If running back Todd Gurley takes another leap after winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and carries the offense and the defense continues to pressure opposing quarterbacks with Hayes back in tow, the Rams may have the formula to compete in the NFC West in their new Los Angeles home.