ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Rams rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree put together one of the best debut seasons by a Ram in franchise history, leading the team with 117 tackles and finishing among the league leaders with six forced fumbles.
In his on-going efforts to keep tabs on the rookie class he spends so much time evaluating, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. recently named his 2013 NFL all-rookie team. While the Rams had a few players under consideration, it was Ogletree who landed a spot.
Here's what Kiper had to say about Ogletree:
"Has the talent to be a star, and actually finished just ahead of teammate James Laurinaitis with 117 total tackles."
From watching Ogletree back in the preseason to how he finished the regular season, you'd be hard-pressed to find any rookie who made steadier progress throughout the course of the season. In the early going, Ogletree struggled with reads, finding himself lost from down to down and struggled even more to get off blocks and make tackles.
By the end of the season, it was clear the experience Ogletree had gained had made him more instinctive and he was showing signs of improvement in using his hands and shedding blocks.
All along, Ogletree's knack for making splash plays never waned. In addition to his six forced fumbles he returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown, had a sack and a half and 10 pass breakups.
Beyond the all-rookie team, Kiper also ranked the top 30 rookies in the league. Ogletree came in at No. 9 on Kiper's list and No. 6 among defenders. That actually seems a little low, given his overall production. Either way, the Rams clearly have a solid building block in Ogletree, who only figures to improve as time goes on.
While he didn't land a spot on Kiper's all-rookie team, running back Zac Stacy did merit mention on the top 30 list. Stacy is No. 21 among rookies on Kiper's list but finished behind Green Bay's Eddie Lacy and Cincinnati's Giovani Bernard for the two running back spots.