TSN - Vinnie Iyer
32-day mock: What should St. Louis do at No. 13?
March 31, 2007


There have been a few surprises in our first dozen mock picks, and there will be a few more before we're done. What the Rams do at No. 13, however, won't be one of them.


I promised a Brady Quinn selection very soon, but it won't be St. Louis. Marc Bulger still is pretty young for a star starter (he turns 30 on April 5) and has a solid veteran backup in Gus Frerotte. No, for the Rams, it pretty much comes down to defense here and more specifically, the defensive line.

So like the Bills before them, who will need to choose between inside or outside linebacker, the Rams will need to choose between defensive end and defensive tackle.

So far the Rams have focused their offseason on adding depth to their secondary, picking up free-agent defensive backs Todd Johnson, Lenny Walls and Mike Rumph. They've also have landed potential starters in left end James Hall and linebacker Chris Draft.

For some reason, however, defensive tackle continues to be their bugaboo. First-round picks on Damione Lewis, Ryan Pickett and Jimmy Kennedy -- the former two are former Rams -- all didn't quite work out. But just because of past bad luck and the perceived bad luck that comes with the number 13, the Rams shouldn't shy away from the position again -- a need is a need.

So like the ***** two picks before them, the Rams need a big interior presence to help them against the run in a backfield-loaded division. So we already had the ***** taking one of top two defensive tackles, Alan Branch. So which tackle is best suited for St. Louis?

Final decision. Louisville DT Amobi Okoye. There's a debate as to who's better, Branch or Okoye, and of course, none of us will really know for sure until three or four years from now. My take on Branch: an experienced big body and gap clogger and what you see is what you get, which is something pretty good. My take on Okoye: a somewhat raw prospect (he's only 19) who has the quick-penetration potential to develop into a fine interior pass rusher and a terrific all-around tackle.

So Branch may be more ready to play and contribute now, while Okoye's worth may be greater in the long term. I don't think it's fair to bunch Okoye in with the past Rams' defensive tackle failures. They must fill that need again and break a curse, and I think Okoye is finally the young man to do it.