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Rams' Needs: Defensive Line

04/11/2006

Already this offseason, the Rams have lost defensive tackles Ryan Pickett (Green Bay) and Damione Lewis (Carolina) in free agency. Indications are that end and tackle Tyoka Jackson does not fit into the team's plans, either.

That leaves the Rams perilously thin on the front four behind starters Leonard Little and Anthony Hargrove at end, and La'Roi Glover and Jimmy Kennedy at tackle.

At the moment, the top backups are Clifford Dukes and Brandon Green at end, and Brian Howard and Jeremy Calahan at tackle. This quartet has a combined 62 career NFL tackles, and Green - who can still get contract offers from other teams as a restricted free agent - has 34 of them.

So it is imperative that the Rams get a third tackle to rotate in with Glover and Kennedy, and it wouldn't hurt to add another end since Hargrove is anything but a proven commodity at this point. That makes DT Brodrick Bunkley of Florida State a possibility at No. 11 overall, or North Carolina State's DE-LB Manny Lawson.

No. 11 is probably too high for DE Tamba Hali of Penn State. But DE Mario Williams of North Carolina State, the top defensive player in the draft, will be long gone by then.

BY JIM THOMAS