By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Friday, Apr. 18 2008

Lightly recruited out of Eisenhower High in Rialto, Calif., Ryan Clady had
offers from Boise State, Idaho State, San Diego State and Texas-El Paso
hardly a murderer's row of college football powers.

But Boise State has been on the rise lately. (Just ask the Oklahoma Sooners.)
And so has Clady. As a freshman in 2004, he spent the year as a defensive
lineman on the scout team. Three seasons and 37 starts later at offensive
tackle, Clady is poised to become a first-round draft pick.

"That's something that doesn't come around too often at Boise," Clady said.

Actually, it never has come around. Unless he robs a bank in the next week,
Clady will become the first first-round draft pick in school history. Generally
considered the second-best offensive lineman in this year's draft pool, Clady
might even slip into the top 10 picks.

Even Clady admits it's all a little mind-boggling.

"I just try to stay humble and thank the Lord for the situation I'm in," he
said. "I love playing the role of the underdog, coming to Boise State, being
really young, and working my butt off to try to get where I am now."

Clady has been busy this offseason. He worked with former Kansas City Chiefs
great Will Shields for about a week, and then worked with Jackie Slater in Los
Angeles.

In particular, Clady said Slater helped with his pass blocking.

"I played against his son in high school," Clady recalled. "He came to one of
my games. I kinda didn't know who he was, but it was exciting to know he played
in the NFL."

Slater did more than play in the NFL; the Hall-of-Fame tackle played his entire
career with the Rams. The last of his 20 pro seasons came in 1995, the Rams'
first season in St. Louis.

Clady's not shy in talking about his talents. Never mind Michigan's Jake Long,
Clady thinks he's the best tackle in the draft. Why?

"My pass-blocking abilities and my feet," Clady said. "I think I have good
feet, and I think I can excel at the next level."
Alex Barron has just two years left on his contract, and Orlando Pace is closer to the end of his career than the beginning. The Rams have nothing resembling a third offensive tackle on the roster, with the possible exception of Brandon Gorin or Adam Goldberg. At the very least, the Rams need to draft a tackle no later than the middle rounds someone who can be groomed as an eventual starter.
There was a time a week or so ago when the Rams seemed to be targeting Jake Long (right) as their pick at No. 2 overall. But then Miami, with the No. 1 overall pick, opened negotiations with Long's agent. Even if Long goes to the Dolphins, the Rams seem to have many options at tackle in this draft.
"It's the best group (of tackles) I've seen in 24 years collectively," said Kevin Colbert, the Steelers' director of football operations, who thinks a good tackle can be had in the first three rounds.
Player POS. College Ht. Wt.
Jake Long T Michigan 6-7 313
Could be first OT taken No. 1 overall since Orlando Pace in 1997.
Ryan Clady T Boise State 6-6 309
Quick feet, good balance and body control could make him a top 10 pick.
Branden Albert G Virginia 6-6 309
Built more like a tackle, but he was a three-year starter at left guard.
Chris Williams T Vanderbilt 6-6 315
Athletic big man is called the best offensive tackle in school history.
Jeff Otah T Pittsburgh 6-6 322
Massive mauler uses his hands well and can sustain blocks.