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2011 NFL Draft: Looking at the first and second round defensive tackle prospects

The SBN mock draft from earlier today had the St. Louis Rams taking Oregon State DT Stephen Paea. The idea of taking a defensive tackle makes plenty of sense for the Rams, but Paea might not be the guy with the #14 pick. 

I asked Matt Miller of New Era Scouting about the pick via Twitter today. Here's what he said:

He'll be at Combine. I'd say 2nd RD guy. Never liked him much honestly

Not enough pass rush, too small at POA.. think he'll get pushed around a lot if he plays zero tech. Fit in well in C2 defense

Putting forth the caveat that I don't know much about the guy, he does seem to elicit some differing opinions. 

What about some other defensive tackles that might be on the Rams' radar in the first or second rounds? Here's a quick rundown of some names to know, with a little bit of info about each player. We'll delve into each player much more as the Combine approaches, and after that as well. For now, here's some names to know.

One more note: I'm using the prospect rankings list from NFL Draft ScoutMocking the Draft and New Era Scouting, links provided (I like all three, but New Era puts the 3-4 DTs in a separate category). 

Nick Fairley and Marcell Dareus won't be there when the Rams pick. No way. If they were though, either one would be a nice get.

Corey Liuget, Illinois - Rams fans ought to be somewhat familiar with Liuget since he played just up the street from St. Louis. He's quick, strong and plays either a three or five-technique; he even worked some as a NT with the Illini this season. Not perfect, he lacks some polish in his moves and most scouting reports point to his inability to contain on the outside as an end in a 3-4. The Rams run a 4-3, and what they might really like is that he's a strong four pillars guy, widely hailed as a locker room leader. 

Phil Taylor, Baylor - He's a nose tackle. Forget it. 

Drake Nevis, LSU - Another three-technique player, he's athletic and can penetrate well. Size concerns are an issue, since at 6'1" 285 lbs he's considered a little smaller than most at his position. As much as the Rams could use a DT able to shoot gaps, I wonder about whether or not he'd hold up against the run consistently. 

Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple - Obviously playing at Temple has a negative impact on his draft stock. However, pundits love what he did against the competition throughout his college career, especially stuffing the run. His 70 tackles are a noticeable achievement for a DT. 

Marvin Austin, North Carolina - Character issues are a big red flag here. Nevertheless, he's got all kinds of talent, and was considered a top prospect heading into the 2010 season. The Rams interviewed Austin at the Shrine Game earlier this month. If he's on his game, he can be dangerous. 

Jurrell Casey, USC - Alright, we need our SoCal contingent to weigh-in here. Casey isn't quite as good as Sedrick Ellis was coming into the draft in '08, but he's got talent. Seems like he could struggle against better guards. 

That's a decent little collection of players, and it's likely that more names could bubble into second round consideration after the Combine. The third and fourth rounds have some prospects too. We'll be diving much further into the DT talent as we get closer to the Combine and the 2011 NFL Draft.