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Zephyrhills' Pickett celebrates first-round selection by Rams

The defensive lineman who left Ohio State a season early sacks draft analysts who said he'd go in the second round.

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 22, 2001


photo
[Times photo: Douglas Clifford]
"It wasn't a big surprise," Ryan Pickett said of his selection. "I always knew I'd go in the first round. I'm just happy it's over with."
Ryan Pickett knew he was a first-round NFL draft pick.

The draft analysts said the former Zephyrhills High star and Ohio State defensive tackle wasn't.

When St. Louis selected him in the first round with the 29th overall pick on Saturday, the Pickett family home exploded with joy.

"I feel good," Pickett said. "It wasn't a big surprise. I always knew I'd go in the first round. I'm just happy it's over with."

Pickett, 21, was weary of the criticism of his decision to declare early for the NFL draft as a junior.

Many analysts said Pickett would be a sure-fire No. 1 pick, if he remained in school.

Pickett began to have his doubts until about 4:45 p.m. Saturday when the phone rang. It was the Rams.

"They said they were about to select me with the next pick," Pickett said, "and they just wanted to call me and let me know a few seconds before they announced it."

Seconds later, the Pickett family was jumping and hollering.

"Ohhhh, you know it's exciting, that's all I can say," said his mother, Mae. "Oh, we were all up in the air."

St. Louis general manager Charley Armey said the 6-2, 297-pound Pickett will play nose tackle alongside Miami defensive tackle and friend Damione Lewis, who was drafted No. 12 overall.

"He's just really a baby," Armey said. "His voice hasn't changed yet."

-- Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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