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    NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackle

    NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackle
    Friday, April 13, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Heading into the offseason, there was one position that the Rams and everyone else knew needed addressing. That spot was defensive tackle.

    With La’Roi Glover closer to the end than the beginning, Jimmy Kennedy entering his contract year after attempting to learn a new position, Jason Fisk retiring and the future potential of Claude Wroten unknown, St. Louis had prioritized adding a tackle or two or three in the offseason.

    But with the first serious run on free agents over, the Rams are still holding on to the same group of tackles they had at the end of the year, minus Fisk. The Rams had targeted a numbers of defensive tackles in free agency, including Oakland’s Terdell Sands and New Orleans’ Hollis Thomas, but with teams around the league flush with cash, most of the best options never even hit the market.

    There were some rumblings that Carolina’s Kris Jenkins might come available and that seems to have come true. And while the Rams certainly have interest in acquiring the three-time Pro Bowler, questions about his value because of weight and durability issues make his status uncertain. Of course, there could still be some options that hit the market in June. Last season, the Rams picked up Fisk late in the game and Grady Jackson landed in Atlanta where he had an excellent season.

    Still, with the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, the defensive tackle position is probably the team’s most pressing need. That doesn’t mean the Rams will reach to get one in the first round, but there are certainly some intriguing options that could be available when the team comes on the clock at No. 13.

    There are two clear-cut first rounders at tackle in this draft with a couple of others that could slide into the top round. Heading the list is Louisville’s Amobi Okoye. Okoye is only 19, but mature beyond his years both physically and mentally. Most scouts love Okoye not just for what he is, but what he could become as he continues to grow. Okoye would be an excellent choice for the Rams and could be on the board when they pick, but there is a lot of uncertainty about the first round and he could go as high as No. 5 or 6.

    Behind Okoye is Michigan’s Alan Branch. Branch is more of a nose tackle than Okoye at this stage. On purely physical skills, Branch is a top 10 pick, but it’s unclear whether teams in the top 10 believe in him enough to land him there.

    Either of those picks could be potential options for the Rams, but it’s conceivable that both could be gone by the time the Rams pick. Even if the Rams can land one of the top tackles in the first round, they might remain in the market to add another in the later rounds. Among the top names available after the first round include North Carolina State’s DeMarcus “Tank” Tyler, Tennessee’s Justin Harrell, Florida’s Marcus Thomas, Notre Dame's Derek Landri and California’s Brandon Mebane.

    Regardless of when it happens, expect the Rams to leave the draft with at least one defensive tackle. And even if the team acquires a player of Jenkins caliber, it would not preclude them from using a top pick on the likes of Okoye.

    The Top Tackles

    Amobi Okoye, Louisville – At 19, Okoye has all of the tools to be a star in the NFL in the future. And he’s already the best tackle in the draft.

    Alan Branch, Michigan – There’s no doubt Branch’s size and athletic ability, but there have been questions about his effort and willingness to give his all. It might be unfair to hold that against him, but it could cause a slide in the draft. Or he could go in the top 10.

    DeMarcus “Tank” Tyler, North Carolina State – A short, squat tackle with a massive frame. Tyler is built to play nose tackle in the league and is one of the strongest players in the draft.

    Justin Harrell, Tennessee – Harrell might be in the conversation for the top spot here if not for some injury issues. Still, he has been climbing after good workouts and could land somewhere in the late first or early second.

    Marcus Thomas, Florida – A huge body with plenty of talent, but off the field issues have him falling further than he probably should. Very comparable to the Rams’ Claude Wroten from last year’s draft.

    Sleeper: David Patterson, Ohio State – Quinn Pitcock got all of the headlines, but some scouts believe Patterson will be the better player at the next level.

    Built RAM tough

  2. #2
    Keenum's Avatar
    Keenum is offline Registered User
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    Re: NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackle

    We got a lot of talent at DT, but we just haven't been able to get it out. Kennedy is in his contract year, and that shoud give him some extra motivation, hopefully.

  3. #3
    blood85 Guest

    Re: NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackle

    If Kennedy doesn't come through, or even Wroten, some heads are gonna roll.

  4. #4
    theodus69 Guest

    Re: NFL Draft Preview: Defensive Tackle

    Kennedy....... They ought to deep fry him and have him 4 thanksgiving dinner!

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