Rams pick linebacker with 31st choice

April 20, 2002 at 6:30 PM

NEW YORK, April 20 (UPI) -- The St. Louis Rams, who suffered losses at linebacker during the offseason, selected linebacker Robert Thomas of UCLA with the 31st pick in the NFL Draft Saturday.

The Rams lost linebackers London Fletcher and Mark Fields and signed Jamie Duncan this offseason. The addition of Thomas gives the Rams a quality backup behind behind Duncan and outside linebackers Tommy Polley and Don Davis.

The Defensive Player of the Year in the Pac-10 Conference, Thomas makes plays sideline to sideline, but at 6-0 and 233 pounds is a bit undersized. Thomas played the middle in a 4-3 in college, but may be too small to play there in the NFL.

Thomas had 111 tackles, including 26 for losses, and had 6 1/2 sacks last season, showing great timing on blitzes. He played with a stress fracture in his left foot as a junior and had 80 tackles and caused six fumbles.

His older brother, Stan, was an offensive tackle and a first-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 1991.

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