All along this offseason, the Rams’ game plan was much different on defense than offense. The offense underwent a radical makeover in skill position players, adding a Pro Bowl left tackle along the way.
As for the defense, the shopping list was limited largely to two starting positions — safety and outside linebacker.

Even without benefit of a coordinator last year because of Gregg Williams’ “Bountygate” suspension, the Rams made impressive strides on defense.

They tied for the league lead in sacks (with Denver), 52. They scored five defensive touchdowns, four by rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins. And they flirted with top 10 status for much of the season in total defense.

The hope at Rams Park is that the two new starters obtained via the draft, outside linebacker Alec Ogletree of Georgia and safety T.J. McDonald of Southern California, will help the defense take that next step.

Not unlike the skill-position plan on offense, the idea was to get faster and more athletic at strongside linebacker. That’s where the 6-foot-3, 242-pound Ogletree comes in.

“You want to talk about a kid that’s made for the NFL game with an ability to drop and cover, a former safety,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said weeks before the draft. “He is fun to watch on tape. He flies. He’s explosive. He’s not great against the run, but boy, in today’s NFL of spread offenses he’s a great fit.”

Assuming he avoids further off-field issues, that’s exactly what the Rams hope to get from Ogletree. When you count the NFC West games against San Francisco and Seattle, plus a contest at Carolina, five of the Rams’ 16 games next season are against teams with running, read-option style quarterbacks. Someone such as Ogletree is needed to run down Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton, and keep those breakout runs around the perimeter from happening.

“I’m definitely up for the challenge,” Ogletree said at his introductory news conference last week. “I’m very confident in my ability to basically tackle somebody, run ’em down. I feel like when I’m between the lines, nobody’s faster than me.”

That’s why the Rams drafted him.

“Here’s a good story,” Rams general manager Les Snead said. “(Linebackers coach) Frank Bush was drawing up a lot of things we’re going to see in our division and said, ‘Hey, what do you do right here?’

“Basically Ogletree drew a line and said, ‘I go right there and make the tackle right at the line of scrimmage.’ He didn’t get into this or that, he just said, ‘I’m going to meet that guy right there.’ ”

As Snead told the story, he showed Ogletree drawing a direct line — from where he was positioned on defense to the quarterback.