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Player Spotlight: Ryan Pickett

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  • Player Spotlight: Ryan Pickett

    By John Raffel,

    Ryan Pickett showed professional football potential as early as his high school days. And he's enjoying as much success in his brief career with the St. Louis Rams as he did as a prep football player in Florida and a collegiate starter at Ohio State.

    The 6-foot-2, 310-pound Pickett, a nose tackle, is still considered by pro football scouts as a young player on the rise with a lot of power and athletic abilities and good intensity playing the run. The Rams picked him in the first round, 29th overall, in the 2001 NFL Draft. He played in 11 games during his first season and three postseason contests in a reserve role on the defensive line and on special teams.

    Since his rookie year, he's turned into more of an established pro player.

    "Things went pretty well," Pickett said toward the end of the 2003 season. "I played well. In my third year, I was getting the hang of it. The hardest part from the college years is pretty much knowing that you have to take care of business."

    At Ohio State, Pickett was a three-year starter and played both tackle positions. For his career, he finished with 109 tackles (72 solos), eight sacks for minus 39 yards and 20 stops for losses of 67 yards in 37 contests. He played at left defensive tackle junior season, recording 39 tackles (21 solos) with three sacks, four passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

    An all-Big Ten Conference honorable mention as a sophomore, he started every game at right defensive tackle and made career-high 48 tackles (34 solos) with three sacks and one pass defense.

    Pickett played in every game as a true freshman, starting final nine contests at right defensive tackle and finished with 22 tackles (17 solos), two sacks for minus-10 yards, and five stops for losses of 19 yards.

    The native of Zephyrhills, Fla., was a consensus all-American selection, adding all-state honors, at Zephyrhills High. He was named one of the top 25 players in country by National Recruiting Advisor. He had 119 tackles and seven sacks during his senior season.

    "We had a good program. We always had pretty good teams," said Pickett who played defensive end his junior year and nose tackle as a senior. "Linebacker was my favorite position of all."

    Pickett said he started organized football at age 7 and has always played defense.

    "I played offense my senior year in high school at offensive tackle," he said. "On defense, you get to hit. I like that."

    Pickett received some friendly advice when it came to advancing his football career past high school.

    "Our coaches helped us to get to the college level," Pickett said. "My head coach (Tom Fisher) taught me a lot about responsibility and kept me focused on things."

    Pickett was a varsity starter three years.

    "Every year, I got better," he said. "Quickness has always been my strength -- that and knowledge of the game is a big thing. I've always had the football smarts."

    He demonstrated that on the high school level.

    "I think the biggest game I ever had in high school, I had 20 tackles and six for losses," he said.

    Pickett has usually had the size, too. He was at 290 pounds during his high school years. It was during that time he seriously thought about playing football at higher levels.

    “I was sure excited about college football," he said. "My sophomore year in college, I realized I could probably play pro football."

    When he gets a chance to talk to high school football players who might have ambitions for the college and pro levels, Pickett doesn't hesitate to point out some critical things to keep in mind.

    "You tell them things you have to do, like having good work habits," Pickett said. "You have to have a lot of character and positive attitudes. How you deal with things is what will make for a good player. You have to have a positive attitude."

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  • RamWraith
    Pickett Proves Stout in the Middle
    by RamWraith
    Saturday, November 5, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    By the time Ryan Pickett was in middle school, he was already bigger than the rest of the kids. Because of his considerable size – he weighed 300 pounds in high school – and his eerie resemblance to his father Rubin, everyone called him “Big Grease.”

    Rubin was the original Big Grease, given to him by his brother-in-law apparently because he was a smooth operator. As Ryan grew older and larger, though, he eventually claimed the name of Big Grease.

    “I’m pretty smooth, but I just look like my old man,” Pickett said. “If you ever see him, you’d be like wow. I’ll look just like him in about 27 years.”

    Now, Ryan maintains that nickname and Rubin is just Grease, minus the Big. The evolution of Pickett’s nicknames might seem minute in the big picture, but in reality Pickett has had a couple of monikers that let you get a read on how he went from the youngest member of the Pickett clan to the stout, run stuffing defensive tackle of the St. Louis Rams.

    Toughening Up

    Growing up as the youngest in a family with two brothers and a sister can be tough on any child and Pickett was no exception. Almost every day, his brothers, Rubin Jr. and Booker would pound on him, telling him it would only make him tougher.

    But it wasn’t the older men in his family that gave Pickett the most problems. His sister Suphia was the biggest culprit.

    “She was the main one,” Pickett said. “She was the ringleader. My older brother made my middle brother and me fight all the time and wrestle. They would just beat me up. They tried to make me tough and that’s what they did.”

    Little did Pickett’s siblings know that they were preparing him for a career in the NFL. When Pickett was young he quickly fell in love with football, unfortunately his size prevented him from participating as much as he would have liked. He played pee wee ball until he was about 8, but he grew too big to make weight to play with kids his age.

    “It was real frustrating,” Pickett said. “I think after I stopped playing football I got even bigger. I was just like a little, round kid with nothing to do.”

    His mother Mae refused to let Pickett play up in age, worried that he would get seriously hurt. In the meantime, Pickett became one of the biggest, most intimidating pitchers and catchers to grace Little League.

    But that time away from football was essentially torture for Pickett. He watched his brother playing and excelling on the gridiron and he wanted that for himself. Booker was so good he earned a spot on the Miami Hurricanes, one of the premiere college programs in the nation.

    Instead of football, the poundings from his siblings had to suffice as Pickett’s method of toughening up.

    “My older brothers beat me up when my mom wasn’t...
    -11-07-2005, 09:26 AM
  • RamWraith
    Pickett is off to best start
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats

    Examining a photo of the 1992 Stewart Middle School football team, Ryan Pickett's eyes brightened when he located the chubby youngster in the No. 53 jersey. "I've been playing ball since I was a little boy," Pickett mused, "and I just knew I could do it."

    By "do it," he meant be successful in the NFL. Pickett, a defensive tackle, is in his fifth season with the Rams. If the first two games are a true barometer, it could be his best. "If he can stay healthy, I think he's as good as any young tackle in the league," Rams defensive end Tyoka Jackson said.

    Pickett, 25, had a big year in 2002, when he collected 107 tackles, second on the team. But he suffered a high-ankle sprain early in the '03 season, and it became a nagging encumbrance. His tackle totals dipped to 74 that year and 81 last season.

    The ankle is strong again, a sore back that bothered him during training camp has cleared up, and the 6-foot-2, 330-pound Pickett has been pounding away. He has 16 tackles, second to linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa's team-leading 19 and 12 more than any other interior defender.

    "He had a good game against San Francisco, and he had a really good game Sunday" at Arizona, fellow lineman Damione Lewis said. "I'm really happy for him."

    Pickett directed considerable credit to the revamped linebackers corps, where veteran free agents Chris Claiborne and Dexter Coakley joined Tinoisamoa. "They're getting up quick, so we're not on double-teams as long, and that's enabled us to make more plays," Pickett explained.

    The effect has been dramatic: The Rams rank third in the 32-team league against the run; last season, they were No. 29.

    "A little rowdy"

    Several Ohio State coaches surrounded him and the speaker phone was engaged when an anxious Pickett, then 18, dialed up his parents from Columbus. "I told them, 'I'm going to Ohio State,'" Pickett recalled. "And there was just silence. They were like, 'Son, come home and let's talk about it.'"

    Ryan is the youngest of Rubin and Mae Pickett's four children. "They always considered me the baby," he said. As such, he was a favorite target for brothers Rubin Jr. and Booker, and sister Suphia. "Yeah, yeah, they used to dog him," Rubin Sr. said. "They were always on Ryan to get meaner, to get tougher. I think it worked."

    Lewis said Pickett's on-field temperament belies his otherwise laid-back demeanor. "He gets a little rowdy out there," Lewis said.

    Most of the family still lives about 25 miles north of Tampa in Zephyrhills, Fla., which Pickett described as "a little country town." Pickett prompted considerable municipal pride - the mayor organized...
    -09-25-2005, 04:43 AM
  • general counsel
    pickett only had one good year......
    by general counsel
    I want to lay out some stats on pickett in response to a lot of the "he only had one good year so it was ok to let him go" and "what did he do for green bay anyway" crowd.

    He only had one good year? At the time we let him go, pickett, who was 27 and had 6 years of experience, had 238 career tackles over his six years. He had missed zero games with injuries, playing in 11 in his rookie year and 16 per year after that. In the same period, shaun rogers, a guy we passed on to take pickett, had 294 tackles and a couple of pro bowls i believe. Rogers also had more sacks than pickett by a wide margain (19-6). Note however that in 2005, picketts free agent year, he had 65 tackles while rogers had 39. Also note that in 2006, picketts first year in green bay, he had 64 tackles (so much for the one year wonder argument) and rogers had 20, missing most of the season with injury while pickett again played all 16 games. After 7 years for both of them, through 2006, pickett has 302 career tackles while rogers has 314. Over the last two years, pickett has 129 tackles while rogers has 59. Which guy would you rather have right now?

    Look at the great and sainted tommie harris, who everyone seems to think is so fantastic. 43 tackles as a starter as a rookie, great rookie year, followed by 32 tackles in his second year and 28 last year in 12 games.

    Lets talk kris jenkins. Do you know how many times jenkins has had 64 tackles in a season (which pickett has now done in back to back years)? The answer is NONE. Career high for jenkins is 45 tackles. He has played four full seasons in his seven years in the league (unlike 7 for pickett) and he has broken 40 tackles three times.

    Am i saying that pickett is better than harris right now? I dont know, but i sure think that right now he looks better than rogers and jenkisn. I know that there is more to measuring the effectiveness of a defensive tackle than tackle stats, but in picketts case, the numbers dont lie. Pickett is not the pass rushing threat that harris is or that jenkins was earlier in this career, but from the rams perspective, when we let him walk we were already desparate for run defense.

    The issue isnt whether he is the best player at his position in the league, but rather what in the world were the rams thinking about when they let him go for a 4.5 million signing bonus and well under 10 million in guaranteed money to put all of their eggs in the kennedy basket.

    Pickett was drafted after his junior year. He was young. He matured. He has been healthy and consistent and improved steadily. Was the contract year a breakout year? Sure it was, but he was also physically mature and experienced at age 26. IN short, taking pickett where we took him (at the end of round 1) was an EXCELLENT draft pick. The bust was in letting him go just as he was entering his prime. His consistency last year...
    -06-18-2007, 07:09 AM
  • Nick
    Pickett gives up glory in new scheme
    by Nick
    Pickett gives up glory in new scheme
    In 3-4, his job is to occupy blockers, not make plays
    By Rob Demovsky
    September 1, 2009

    Last season, Ryan Pickett’s job description was simple — stuff running backs for as little gain as possible.

    He did just that, finishing fifth on the Green Bay Packers — and second among the team’s defensive linemen — in tackles with 81 despite rarely playing on passing downs.

    The switch to the 3-4 defense forced Pickett to move to from defensive tackle to nose tackle, a position foreign to him during his entire football life. Despite playing the equivalent of about five quarters of football in the first three preseason games combined, the ninth-year veteran hasn’t recorded a tackle. His name doesn’t appear anywhere on the preseason stat sheet.

    Nevertheless, the Packers’ coaches aren’t sounding the alarm bells.

    A couple of factors go into Pickett’s relative anonymity so far:

    ♦ He hasn’t played as many snaps as expected because the Packers have used so much of their nickel package, in which an extra defensive back subs in for Pickett.

    ♦ He’s still adjusting to the new defense, in which his responsibilities are completely different.

    In most calls, he’s responsible for clogging the “A” gaps — the spaces between the center and the guards — and taking on the center in order to keep the interior linemen off of the linebackers. In other words, he’s there to occupy blockers and take up space so that other guys can make plays. In other, less frequent calls, he has the freedom to fire off the snap and attack the ball carrier.

    That said, Pickett hasn’t immediately turned into Pittsburgh’s Casey Hampton or New England’s Vince Wilfork, two of the preeminent 3-4 nose tackles in the NFL. But the 29-year-old is slowly beginning to embrace his new role, even if it’s one that’s likely to take him out of a play-making position.

    “There ain’t going to be much busting up the field and making plays for me in this defense,” Pickett said. “There’s a couple of calls they give us, but for the most part, that’s it. It’s different — a lot different than what I’m used to — but I think I’m adjusting to it and getting the hang of it.”

    But does he like it?

    “Part of you misses just getting to blow off the ball,” Pickett said. “Sometimes we get a couple of calls where we do, and you’re just excited to get them. So you look forward to those calls.”

    They won’t happen very often. The main job of a 3-4 nose is to occupy double teams, eat up blockers and let the free-flowing linebackers make the plays and get the glory. Pickett, one of the underrated team players in the Packers’ locker room, says he doesn’t have a big problem with that.

    However, learning the new techniques this defense requires has been a significant adjustment....
    -09-02-2009, 08:26 AM
  • RamDez
    'Big Grease' slides into role of leader
    by RamDez
    By Kathleen Nelson
    Sunday, Oct. 08 2006
    Last winter, defensive tackle Ryan Pickett might have expected to be playing
    Sunday in Green Bay. He didn't expect to be playing for the Packers.
    After five seasons with the Rams, Pickett's career was on the upswing. He had
    made steady progress under the tough love of defensive line coach Bill Kollar
    after being selected in the first round of the 2001 draft. He led the NFL's
    interior lineman in tackles last season with 115, and the Rams had begun
    negotiations on a new contract. But the Rams' interest waned March 7 when they
    signed tackle La'Roi Glover.
    "That did make the decision for us as far as where we prioritized signing
    another free-agent tackle," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "Ryan did a nice
    job, was real open to possibly coming back. The business is that way."
    Pickett acknowledged he was upset that the Rams stopped negotiating but moved
    to other options.
    "I thought I would end my career in St. Louis," he said. "I really loved it
    there, the people there. I had all my friends there. When they backed out, I
    was like, 'Man. I've been playing all these years and they backed out.'"
    Pickett drew interest from the Bengals, Packers and Bills, where he would have
    been reunited with the boisterous Kollar. But after meeting with Packers coach
    Mike McCarthy and position coach Robert Nunn, he decided Green Bay was a good
    fit and canceled his visit to Cincinnati.
    "The Packers wanted to let me play -- so I wouldn't be a nose guard all the
    time and taking on the double team," Pickett said. "I could go with Kollar
    again, but I thought it was time for something different. I thank God I had
    Kollar my first couple years to run me in the dirt and yell. I know what it's
    like. It's built in me now to go to the ball."
    The atmosphere and expectations in Green Bay versus St. Louis, Pickett said,
    are "like night and day. My coach now, you can't get him to yell or cuss or
    anything. It's a big difference. I'm playing basically the left side. However
    the offense lines up dictates where I line up.
    "I'm kind of like the leader. Man, the whole D-line is young. I'm like the
    oldest interior lineman. I have to watch what I say and do around them, and
    they follow what I do."
    Pickett and his family settled in quickly. He reported that his wife, Jennifer,
    bought a couple of cheeseheads right away and that fans recognize him at
    restaurants. He also has made himself at home on the field, with 15 tackles.
    "We're very happy with Ryan," McCarthy said. "He's our most consistent player
    up front. He's done a very nice job. He's come around and fit in our scheme.
    He's done...
    -10-07-2006, 01:43 AM