Rams' Needs: Defensive Tackle
Rams' Needs: Defensive Tackle
Thursday, April 20, 2006
By Nick Wagoner
In 2001, the Rams entered the NFL Draft with a desperate need for an influx of youth on the defensive line. An aging group was headed toward the end and, armed with three first-round picks; St. Louis made revamping the defensive tackle position one of its greatest needs.
The Rams promptly selected Miami tackle Damione Lewis with the 12th pick and Ohio State tackle Ryan Pickett with the 29th selection. Fast forward to 2006 and the Rams find themselves in a similar, if not quite so dire, position.
After a disappointing stay in St. Louis, Lewis and Pickett departed in free agency. Lewis, the more disappointing of the two, signed with Carolina, while Pickett (who had become a solid player) took Green Bay’s contract offer.
Moving quickly to fill one of those holes, the Rams inked veteran Pro Bowler La’Roi Glover to a contract and quickly installed him as the starter at the three technique. Jimmy Kennedy, another former first-round pick, will move to the nose position after spending his time as a swing man last season.
Still, for a defense that struggled mightily against the run last year, the Rams have a glaring need for some depth in the defensive tackle rotation. Veteran leader Tyoka Jackson isn’t likely to return after he spent years playing end and tackle.
That leaves the Rams with youngsters Brian Howard and Jeremy Calahan behind Glover and Kennedy. While Howard has played some in his first two seasons, he has yet to show he can handle the chore of being in the tackle rotation. Calahan is one of the strongest players on the team, but is a bit raw. Chances are, only one of those two players will be make it through camp and land on the roster.
With that in mind, the Rams have made adding another defensive tackle a priority, preferably one who can contribute right away and is strong against the run. The Rams have brought in a number of candidates on visits to Rams Park and could take a tackle as high as their first-round pick, No. 11 overall.
Two tackles have separated themselves from the pack as potential high first rounders. Oregon’s Haloti Ngata and Florida State’s Brodrick Bunkley are the highest-ranked tackles in the draft.
That duo is different in a few ways. Nagata is a pure run stuffer with massive size and strength while Bunkley is more of a three-down player capable of playing the run, but he also has the ability to get to the quarterback.
For what the Rams need, the run stuffer might make more sense. Glover is a strong pass rusher and decent against the run. Kennedy has showed signs of being able to do both well, but has yet to put it all together. Bunkley is clearly a better athlete than Ngata, but for the purposes of the Rams, Ngata might make more sense, especially if they want to go to a 3-4 more consistently.
Should the Rams pass on that duo or should both be gone when the Rams come on the clock, there are a number of other candidates that St. Louis has its eye on. That group includes North Carolina State’s John McCargo, Virginia Tech’s Tim Sandidge, Louisville’s Montavious Stanley, LSU’s Claude Wroten and Kyle Williams and Michigan’s Gabe Watson.
With the lack of depth at tackle, it’s a safe bet the Rams will emerge from the first day (rounds one through three) with a tackle and it’s probably a safe bet that before it’s all said and done, they will add another tackle on day two.
1. Haloti Ngata, Oregon – A pure run stuffer with the size to consistently clog the middle and take on multiple blockers. Ngata checks in around 340 pounds and has shown the ability to not only take on blockers but shed them. Not much of a pass rusher, Ngata is almost strictly a two-down player. Would fit nicely in the middle of a 3-4. Should go in the first 10-15 picks and could be the top tackle taken.
2. Brodrick Bunkley, Florida State – Bunkley’s stock is sky high right now and with good reason. Unlike Ngata, Bunkley has the ability to stay on the field in all situations. He’s quick enough to get to the passer and can battle in the middle against the run. Bunkley could pass Ngata as the top tackle and figures to land in the same range.
3. Gabe Watson, Michigan – Watson was a classic grinder for the Wolverines and should be the same in the NFL. At 6’3, 339 pounds, Watson will be a run stuffer in the middle along the lines of Ryan Pickett. Perfect as a nose tackle in a 3-4. Has been criticized for his inconsistency and effort. Should he get that straightened out, he’s a first round talent. Instead, he will likely fall until late in the first or early in the second round.
4. Claude Wroten, LSU – Wroten might be one of the most underrated prospects in the entire draft. He is absolutely explosive out of his stance and can get to the passer consistently. Wroten’s experience in the SEC matched him against some of the best in the nation and he succeeded at all levels. He isn’t the strongest guy, though, and can be pushed around against the run. With some added work in the weight room, he could become a La’Roi Glover type of pass rushing tackle in the NFL. Should be gone by midway through the second round.
5. John McCargo, North Carolina State – With Lawson and Williams garnering most of the attention for the Wolfpack’s defense, McCargo went largely unnoticed. But, that has changed in recent months as McCargo has steadily climbed up draft boards. McCargo is similar to Wroten in his ability to rush the passer. He’s not quite as explosive, but less raw and could contribute immediately. He should land somewhere by the end of the first day.
Sleeper: Domata Peko, Michigan State – Peko isn’t a great athlete, but he makes up for it with heart and intensity. Has good size and is very strong for his position. He doesn’t have much in the way of speed, but finds a way to the ball. Still somewhat raw, but most people believe he is still developing and will peak at the next level. If he does, whoever grabs him in the mid to late rounds could be getting a steal.
Re: Rams' Needs: Defensive Tackle
Hmm, i like the look of Watson has a second rounder maybe, but i dont like the lack of effort thing
Re: Rams' Needs: Defensive Tackle
Man, how great it would be for A.J. Hawk to fall to the Rams.....But we all know that will not happen.....I'm totally excited about the DT pool that this years draft has to offer. If we just hold on to the draft selectios we already have, we stand a good chance to land some major studs on defense. Especially if Huff is still there at the 11th spot. The DT,LB, DB selections that could be there in the 2nd and 3rd rounds when we pick are almost making me sperm my pants.
I think we could hold off till the 2nd day for a tight end.....I say we go defense 1,2,and 3!!!!!