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Seventh-round pick Bryce Hager has ties to Jeff Fisher, Rams

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Asked about linebacker Bryce Hager, whom the St. Louis Rams drafted out of Baylor in the seventh-round of this year's NFL draft, coach Jeff Fisher couldn't help but smile.

Bryce is the son of former NFL linebacker Britt Hager. And while it's fairly common to find players entering the league with strong football bloodlines (and the Rams like those types), this was more than that.

Fisher had a story to tell.

"Yes, it's a great story," Fisher said. "Yes, I know him very well. Actually, he was a draft pick of ours in 1989 when I was coordinating in Philadelphia. It made me feel old today."

The story, according to Fisher, goes something like this. In 1989, Fisher was the defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, working under the guidance of head coach Buddy Ryan. Ryan asked Fisher to evaluate a variety of defensive players, including a young linebacker from the University of Texas by the name of Britt Hager.

Fisher promptly watched four or five games of the elder Hager's tape and was immediately impressed. He returned to Ryan's office to provide a glowing endorsement. Ryan told Fisher he didn't know what he was talking about and Fisher departed thinking nothing of it.

"That was how Buddy operated," Fisher said, laughing. "I think I was just some reassurance that he wanted Britt."

Indeed, Ryan did want Britt Hager, so much so, in fact, that he traded a boatload of picks to move back into the third round to acquire him. Philadelphia sent its fifth-round pick, plus its seventh through 12th rounds picks to the Chicago Bears for the No. 81 overall pick. The Eagles used that pick on Britt Hager, who would play for the Eagles until 1994.

From there, Hager went on to spend time with the Denver Broncos before finishing up his career as a member of the St. Louis Rams in 1997, playing mostly on special teams.

Now, Fisher is the man in charge of a team that has drafted another Hager, though the Rams didn't have to pay nearly the same amount of draft capital to acquire Bryce.

Bryce Hager is a 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker who should be able to come to St. Louis, offer some depth and contribute on special teams right away. Hager was productive for the Bears in 2014, posting 114 tackles, 12 for loss and two sacks.

But Fisher didn't draft the younger Hager just for nostalgic reasons. He sees many similarities between father and son.

"Oh yeah, sideline-to-sideline," Fisher said. "That's how his dad was, sideline-to-sideline. Texas, University of Texas, Odessa-Permian. He ran and played special teams and was a great teammate. That's the same thing you see out of Bryce. Bryce was really productive. They speak very highly of him there at Baylor and he should have an impact from a special teams standpoint. Beyond that, we'll see how it goes. He's well coached and a very talented young man."