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SBN Mock Draft: Okoye Pick

The pick is posted over at the SBN Mock draft, and with that, here's my line of thought in taking the youngster Okoye out of Louisville.

I should also note, that my pick was based largely on the preferences voted on by fans in the recent poll here at TST asking which position the Rams should go for with their 13th pick.

The Rams need a defensive tackle, desperately. Fans are beginning to wonder if one of those orange practice dummies can be drafted to replace former first round draft pick, Jimmy Kennedy. And therein lies the controversy surounding the notion of the Rams taking a DT in the first round, especially one that everybody keeps talking about using a dubiously loaded version of the word "upside."

Pish Posh!

Okoye has proven to have such a natural intution for the game, and his role in it, that he is a senior in college at the ripe old age of 19... a time when want-to-be writers like me pondered another year as a freshman. And he was good too. His stock has recently climbed because of various work out days, and I'm a bit surprised to have the chance to grab him 13th.

The idea in the Rams' front office, if I'm reading between the lines right, is that a high round, blue chip DT can step in and immediately make a difference, without having to be any sort of magic-bullet solution to our run problems. In college, Okoye has proven himself to be great against the run, handling double team blocks, collapsing pockets, and generally taking away the middle of the line of scrimmage for opponents. In St. Louis next year, Okoye can become the nose tackle Kennedy never was (the fault there might have something to do with injury and coaching neglect in previous seasons, but that's for another time). Being part of the rotation, Okoye can ease his way into whatever system Haslett creates and still work those rushing downs as he develops the playmaking aspect of his game.

Having said that, temper expectations. Okoye will be a big help, but we're also going to have to count on top-from seasons from Kennedy and Claude Wroten. Even then, nobody's going to confuse us with the Ravens of old, but the impact should be immediate nonetheless.

Just over 300 pounds, size is a concern. Ideally, an NFL conditioning program and lots of endoresments for Ted Drewes Frozen Custard will add 10-15 lbs to Okoye's frame. But he is only 19, which is something worth repeating. As my Mile High colleague pointed out yesterday, Branch would have been the better choice for immediate help on the D-line, but things didn't fall that way. Okoye offers some help now, but the potential to be a cornerstone of the defense for years to come helps make the pick even easier than those 250 rushing yards per game allowed by the Rams last year.