NFC West: Junior Soli

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams could stand to strengthen the middle of their defense. Adding free-agent safety James Butler was a start, but the team could use reinforcements in its front seven.

Veteran defensive tackle La'Roi Glover gutted out one final season in 2008 despite an injured knee and the team's dim prospects overall. The Rams need to get younger and stouter at the position, starting with this draft. The team has drafted three defensive tackles in the first three rounds since 2001 -- Claude Wroten, Jimmy Kennedy and Damione Lewis -- but none met expectations in St. Louis.

First-year general manager Billy Devaney, new to the Rams in 2008, can't do much worse. His teams generally have not drafted defensive tackles early. The chart shows every defensive tackle Devaney's teams have selected since he broke into scouting with the Chargers in 1990.

Draft Rd. Pick Devaney's Team Defensive Tackle
College Conference
1991
2 36 Chargers
George Thornton
Alabama
SEC
2003
2 57 49ers Anthony Adams
Penn St.
Big Ten
1995
3 93 Chargers Don Sasa
Wash. St.
Pac-10
2000 4 113
Chargers Leonardo Carson
Auburn
SEC
1999
5 139 Chargers Adrian Dingle
Clemson ACC
1992 6 147
Chargers
Reggie White
N.C. A&T
MEAC (I-AA)
1996 5 155
Chargers
Junior Soli
Arkansas
SEC
2002
5 172 49ers Josh Shaw Michigan St.
Big Ten
2007
6 185 Falcons Trey Lewis
Washburn
Mid-American (II)
1992
10 258 Chargers
Arthur Paul
Arizona St.
Pac-10

Expect first-year Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo to influence the Rams' thinking on defensive tackles. Spagnuolo was with the Eagles when Philadelphia used three first-round choices on the position between 2000 and 2006: Corey Simon (2000), Mike Patterson (2005) and Brodrick Bunkley (2006). Spagnuolo was with the Giants in 2007 when they drafted defensive tackle Jay Alford from Penn State in the third round.

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