2011 NFL mock draft: A different direction for the Rams

Stephen Paea #54 of the Oregon State Beavers loses his helmet as he tackles Tyler Gaffney #25 of the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 27 2010 in Palo Alto California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Sure, the offseason prospect all-star games aren't over yet, but with the Senior Bowl out of the way, the draft picture has gotten a little clearer. 

SBN's draftniks have a new mock out today, and it has a surprising turn of events for the St. Louis Rams

With the 14th pick in this 2011 NFL mock draft, the Rams select...

Oregon State DT Stephen Paea

First and most obvious, this would hinge on just how much Paea's knee injury, specifically a torn meniscus that might keep him out of the Combine next month. A thorough medical examination would be as important to his draft stock as a workout at this point. 

Paea would be a nice addition for the Rams to be sure. He's big and strong (a 600-pound squat) and specialized in stuffing the run. Unlike the current starting DT next to Fred Robbins, Gary Gibson, Paea would command double teams and have some ability to swat them aside. A pass rusher he is not, but his attributes would make it easier for the tackle next to him. When you think about how effective Fred Robbins was last year at limiting runs up the middle, the idea of pairing him with a player like Paea could do wonders for the Rams DL. 

Conventional wisdom says that the Rams will take a wide receiver with their first pick, but there's no guarantee that Julio Jones would be available there. Even if he was available, returning players and potential value in the second round and later in the draft at receiver could make defensive tackle a more attractive option for the Rams in the draft. 

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