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University of Georgia linebacker Natrez Patrick (6) runs to make a tackle during the second half of a game between Louisiana State University and the University of Georgia at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, October 13, 2018. The Georgia Bulldogs lost their first game of season to the LSU Tigers by a score of 36-16.(Photo/Tony Walsh)

While Natrez Patrick didn’t hear his name called during the 2019 NFL Draft, the former Georgia linebacker still earned a chance at the pros, signing with the Los Angeles Rams in a free agent deal announced two days after the draft’s conclusion.

Los Angeles spent the offseason in a ferocious search for linebacker talent to replace Mark Barron, who the Rams released back in March. Barron left big shoes to fill, accumulating 398 tackles, seven sacks and five interceptions throughout his five-season stint with the Rams.

Patrick, a 6-foot-4, 242-pound linebacker from Atlanta, amassed 160 tackles across four seasons with the Bulldogs, recording 14 tackles for loss and two sacks. He was arrested three times for marijuana-related offenses during his time at Georgia but saw no off-field troubles in his senior season and played in all 14 games.

Patrick will deal with stiff competition throughout rookie minicamp, as the Rams have stockpiled several new linebackers. Clay Matthews, who spent 10 years with the Green Bay Packers, signed with the Rams in March. Los Angeles drafted Dakota Allen from Texas Tech in the seventh round and invited two other undrafted free agents, Texas A&M’s Landis Durham and Delaware’s Troy Reeder, to organized team activities. 

The Rams also return linebacker talent to compete for the spot alongside inside starting linebacker Cory Littleton. Micah Kiser recorded four tackles in his rookie season last year, and Los Angeles re-signed linebacker Bryce Hager to a one-year contract Monday. Hager appears to be a strong candidate for the position, having recorded 14 tackles last season as a reserve.

There are at least three spots to be filled at linebacker on the Rams’ depth chart and opportunities on the practice squad, but Patrick will have to stand out amid a competitive pool in Los Angeles to secure a spot. If he does make the team, Patrick would become the second former Georgia player on the Rams, joining running back Todd Gurley. 

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