Rams' replacements look to be mirror images
Updated: Saturday April 21, 2001 11:36 PM
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The first of the St. Louis Rams' three first-round picks reminds the team of the guy he's replacing.
General manager Charley Armey compared defensive tackle Damione Lewis, taken with the 12th overall pick on Saturday, with D'Marco Farr. Farr, a speedy inside pass rusher who made the Pro Bowl in the Rams' Super Bowl season in 1999 was released after an injury-plagued 2000 season.
A plus for the Rams is that Lewis, who had 15 1-2 sacks in his career at Miami, weighs 297 pounds. Farr, who has since retired, was undersized at 280 pounds.
"If you can imagine what D'Marco was for us when he was healthy, that's what Lewis is," Armey said. "This guy, 25 pounds heavier, moves with the same quickness."
The Rams, who allowed an average of 29 points per game last year, stayed in the defensive mode the rest of the first round. They took Arizona State linebacker Adam Archuleta, who'll be a strong safety in the NFL, with the 20th pick, and selected 297-pound Ohio State tackle Ryan Pickett with the 29th pick.
The 12th pick came from the Kansas City Chiefs in a deal for backup quarterback Trent Green on Friday, and the 29th pick came from Tennessee in a trade for defensive end Kevin Carter.
Earlier Saturday, they filled another hole on defense when they acquired six-time Pro Bowl cornerback Aeneas Williams from the Arizona Cardinals for second- and fourth-round picks.
"We're moving in the right direction," Armey said.
They filled their most obvious need with two of the picks. They also released the other starter at tackle last year, Ray Agnew, although they re-signed him at a lower price.
Lewis, who had 42 starts at Miami, was the third defensive tackle taken. He didn't mind going after Florida's Gerard Warren and Georgia's Richard Seymour during an early run on meat and potatoes linemen. Warren went on the third pick to Cleveland and Seymour was the sixth pick by New England.
"I actually felt good," Lewis said. "I knew there were some guys that were ahead of me and it was good to see them go so early because I knew sooner or later it would be me."
Lewis compared his style to that of Warren Sapp, who also went to Miami.
"I know I play a lot like Warren Sapp," Lewis said. "The guys that came from Miami were taught to play upfield and cause havoc in the backfield, and that's pretty much what I brought to the game."
The Rams were a bit concerned when Florida State defensive end Jamal Reynolds went to Green Bay and Miami linebacker Dan Morgan went to Carolina on the two picks before Lewis. They also would have taken either of those players, if they were still on the board.
"We were worried," Armey said. "There were a lot of defensive players going off the board pretty rapidly."
The Rams identified Lewis, who had 3 1-2 sacks his senior year and runs a 4.84 40-yard dash, as a prospect a while ago. New defensive coordinator Lovie Smith coveted him, and line coach Bill Kollar went to Miami twice to work him out.
Lewis missed two games with a stress fracture on the little toe of his right foot last year, but the Rams aren't concerned about the injury.
"It's almost completely healed," Armey said. "Our doctors feel there won't be a problem, and if it ever did develop a problem it'd be short-term and easy to fix."
The Rams believe Archuleta, who's 6-foot and 209 pounds, is in the mold of Tampa Bay's John Lynch, an AP All-Pro the last two years. Head coach Mike Martz said he was the best tackler in the draft.
"Linebacker is just something I did in college," Archuleta said. "I had to play that role and I was able to make a lot of plays, but it's time for that move and I'm looking forward to it."
Archuleta impressed at the combine in February when he did 31 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press. He has a best of 430 pounds in the bench and 565 in the squat.
"Most of the offensive linemen didn't bench 225 31 times," Armey said. "He's very strong and explosive."
Archuleta said he's in the weight room six or seven times a week.
"That's what I do, that's me," he said. "I knew in order to get where I wanted to be, I had to put in the time."
Pickett, 21, left Ohio State after his junior year. He started all three years for the Buckeyes and although more of a run-stuffer he had three sacks last year.
"He's just really a baby," Armey said. "His voice hasn't changed yet."
Pickett, the sixth defensive tackle taken in the first round, was surprised to be taken by the Rams because he hadn't heard from them.
"I feel very confident in my ability," Pickett said. "I have been playing all my life and I'm not one to sit back and watch."