Running back is fifth first-rounder in fold

Updated: July 26, 2004, 1:28 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams signed first-round draft pick Steven Jackson to a five-year, $7 million contract on Sunday.

The deal includes a $4 million signing bonus for Jackson, the 24th overall pick and the first running back taken. He ran for 3,625 yards and 39 touchdowns in three seasons at Oregon State.

The Rams envision Jackson as the successor to Marshall Faulk, who is entering his 12th NFL season. Faulk, 31, is signed through 2008.

Rocky Arceneaux of St. Louis is the agent for both players. He said Jackson had made it a priority to sign before training camp, which begins Wednesday with two workouts in Macomb, Ill.

"We never anticipated any problems," Arceneaux said. "It was very important for Steven to be in camp on time, so we sort of pushed for that."

The Rams' first-round pick last year, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, missed five days of workouts before signing.

As a senior, Jackson gained 1,545 yards and scored a career-high 19 touchdowns while also establishing himself as a receiving threat for the first time. He had career bests in receptions (44), receiving yards (470) and receiving touchdowns (3).

St. Louis traded up two slots after the Dallas Cowboys -- widely expected to snag Jackson with the 22nd pick -- traded down. The Rams gave Cincinnati the 26th overall pick and a fourth-round pick to grab Jackson at 24.

Jackson was the first offensive player taken in the first round by the Rams since 2000, when they selected running back Trung Canidate.

The Rams have signed five of their seven draft picks. Jackson joins safety Jason Shivers, center Larry Turner, linebacker Brandon Chillar and tight end Erik Jensen under contract. Third-round pick Tony Hargrove, a defensive end from Georgia Tech, and sixth-round pick Jeff Smoker, a quarterback from Michigan State, remain unsigned.

But both are expected to be under contract before the start of camp.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press