Rams Sign First Round Pick Archuleta

July 28, 2001

AP Sports Writer

MACOMB, Ill. (AP) - The St. Louis Rams got the rest of their draft classunder contract Saturday night, signing first-round picks Adam Archuleta andRyan Pickett.

Pickett, 20 pounds lighter and millions of dollars richer, arrived attraining camp and signed a five-year, $5.995 million contract with a signingbonus of $2.215 million.

He has a base salary of $504,000 this year and will get $100,000 a year forattending 80 percent of offseason workouts over the last four years of thecontract. Pickett, who left Ohio State after his junior season, was the 29thoverall pick in last April's draft.

'Oh man, it feels good because this is a lifelong dream,' Pickett said.'It's just starting to hit me that this is what I'm doing.'

The Rams agreed on a contract with Archuleta, the 20th overall pick, lateSaturday night. The Rams signed defensive tackle Damione Lewis of Miami, the12th overall pick, on Friday.

Coach Mike Martz said Archuleta was driving to training camp from St. Louis- about 3 1-2 hours away - and would participate in practice Sunday morning.Both Archuleta and Pickett missed the team's first five practices.

Archuleta was a linebacker at Arizona State, but the Rams envision him as aplayer in the mold of Tampa Bay safety John Lynch. He has a chance to open theseason as the starter, competing with Devin Bush at strong safety.

Martz said Archuleta, 6-foot and 209 pounds, was the best tackler in thedraft class.

Archuleta was impressive at the combine in February when he did 31repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press. He has a best of 430 pounds inthe bench and 565 in the squat.

Pickett started all three years at Ohio State. He was more of a run-stuffer,but had three sacks last year.

Lewis is first on the depth chart at one tackle and Pickett is listed as thesecond-stringer behind Jeff Zgonina at the other tackle.

'He came out early, so he doesn't quite understand the kind of conditioningand the type of intensity that this league is about,' Martz said. 'That's thetransition he's going to have to overcome.

'He's made great strides in the offseason by getting himself in shape.'

Pickett said he shouldn't be underestimated.

'It was the same situation in college, where people didn't expect me tocome in and play right away,' Pickett said. 'By the fourth game I wasstarting.'

While other players dispersed after the early June minicamp, Pickett workedout at Rams Park all summer before training camp. He weighs 298 pounds, 21pounds lighter than his minicamp weight.

'He didn't break for vacation,' Martz said. 'We kept him here and keptworking him out. His personality is starting to come out and he's excited aboutplaying.'

Pickett didn't have to go on a diet. Working with intense new line coachBill Kollar did the trick by itself.

'It was conditioning, drill work, learning the play book, just everythingto get ready for the season,' Pickett said. 'I had dreams about that man(Kollar).

'He's real good, though.'

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