Rams draft preview: Defensive tackle

May, 2, 2014
May 2
2:30
PM ET
The NFL draft is to begin May 8, and the St. Louis Rams hold 12 picks. For the next week and a half, we'll take a look at a different position every day with what the Rams have in place, what they need, when they might address it and some possible fits.

We continue the countdown with a look at this year's crop of defensive tackles.

In place: Michael Brockers, Kendall Langford, Alex Carrington, Jermelle Cudjo, Matt Conrath

Brockers
Donald
Donald
What's needed: Brockers and Langford have been a solid duo in the middle. Brockers is working toward reaching his vast potential and Langford is settling in after his second season at a new position. But the Rams have made it clear they want to build more reliable depth behind the starters so they don't have to use ends William Hayes and Eugene Sims inside as much. In other words, Cudjo and Conrath have been put on notice that their spots aren't guaranteed. Carrington signed as a free agent to help bolster that depth, but only signed a one-year deal.

Ideally, any defensive tackle added to the rotation would be a three-technique with pass-rushing ability to complement the bigger, more physical run stopping abilities of Brockers and Langford. Hayes has played in that sort of role on third down, but the Rams have no true tackles to push the pocket on a consistent basis.

Possible fits: The Rams were anything but shy about bringing in a variety of defensive tackle candidates for pre-draft visits. Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald, Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman, Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt, Florida's Dominique Easley and Alabama's Jeoffrey Pagan were among the names reportedly brought to Rams Park. Each represents a different value in terms of where they could go in the draft, which would seem to indicate the Rams are open-minded about taking a tackle pretty much anywhere, except at No. 2 overall. Donald is clearly the best tackle in the draft and fits the bill of a pass-rushing three-technique to perfection. If he fell to No. 13, he would be awfully tempting for the Rams to fill that void in the rotation and be the long-term tag-team partner to Brockers. Hageman and Tuitt are probably late first-round or early second-round picks. Easley would have been an early pick, but injury issues could drop him into the third or fourth round. Pagan will likely drop even further. Other names to keep in mind include Florida State's Timmy Jernigan, Penn State's Daquan Jones, Princeton's Caraun Reid and Arizona State's Will Sutton.

Verdict: One way or another, the Rams seem destined to pick a defensive tackle. Don't rule out the possibility in the first round. If Donald doesn't go in the top 12 picks and the Rams don't end up with Jadeveon Clowney at No. 2, don't be shocked if the Rams grab Donald at No. 13. Barring that, someone like Easley in the third round would be an ideal fit so long as he checked out medically. With 12 picks, the Rams will draft a defensive tackle at some point, maybe even two.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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