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With Brockers, Rams fortify against division

The NFL trend toward a state of (pass) happiness has not swept over the NFC West.

Go ahead and blame the quarterbacks, but realize, too, that the St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have sought run-oriented identities through their current head coaches.

2011 Top Rushing Games vs. Rams

The Rams' decision to draft defensive tackle Michael Brockers in the first round, understandable based on need alone, makes even more sense in a divisional context. The NFC West schedule delivers the Rams six games against Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore and Beanie Wells -- three physical backs coming off 1,000-yard seasons. The 49ers also added 260-pound Brandon Jacobs to their backfield.

The Rams ranked 31st in rushing yards allowed last season. They allowed 5.7 yards per carry on runs up the middle, including 3.2 before contact. Those figures were worst in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Brockers is 6-foot-5 and 322 pounds. Scouts Inc. ratedInsider him as exceptional or above average in every area except pass-rush ability, where his grade was average. Brockers' grades were exceptional for run defense and durability.

"He's what you want in a defensive tackle, especially in our division with the downhill runs and things like that," Rams general manager Les Snead told reporters Thursday night. "One person I know that’s smiling right now is (middle linebacker) James Laurinaitis."