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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
    r8rh8rmike is offline Superbowl MVP
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    Bernie: Pressure Is On Rams In Having No. 1 Pick

    Pressure is on Rams in having No. 1 pick

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    02/18/2010


    When your team suffers through a 1-15 season, it isn't fun. There is no joy. The beatings wipe the smile away. But the NFL system is supposed to deliver relief. And an instant remedy can arrive through the draft. For the losers, the draft is set up to provide salvation.

    The Rams will have the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, which begins on the evening of April 22. The d-day will be here before we know it. And if the Rams choose the right guy, he'll help transform the franchise, and in a dramatic way. But if the Rams blow it and select the wrong player, the team will remain stuck on the league's underside. More years will be wasted and lost.

    The pressure on general manager Billy Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo is enormous. You see, this isn't just a question of hitting the lotto on that No. 1 pick. There's much more at stake than that. This draft could alter the future of the franchise, on and off the field. This draft could impact the job security of Devaney and Spagnuolo, who are working hard to overcome the football crimes and misdemeanors committed by the previous Rams' regime.

    Moreover, Devaney and Spagnuolo will probably be working for a new boss, Shad Khan. And the boss didn't hire them. The boss doesn't even know them. But the boss certainly will be monitoring his football factory the way he supervises his auto-parts factories. Given his success, Khan seems like the kind of person who expects positive results.

    The Rams, 6-42 over the last three seasons, are about to enter a critical transition phase. If he clears the league's background and financial checks and is voted into the league, Khan will take over as the Rams' new majority owner in a few months.

    No one knows what to expect of Khan, but I'm assuming the man didn't plunk down hundreds of millions of dollars to travel to St. Louis to watch the Rams embarrass him. I'm going to go ahead and assume that Khan isn't fond of writing checks worth tens of millions of dollars for premium draft picks who turn into underachieving busts.

    I'm also going to take it for granted that Khan doesn't want to see thousands of empty seats for home games at the Edward Jones Dome in 2010. And if the Rams can't find a way to motivate a depressed and disgusted fan base, selling tickets will be a formidable challenge.

    The Rams cannot afford to fail.

    In theory, the No. 1 overall pick should provide easy pickings. You have the choice of the lot. No other team can block you or snatch the player you covet. There's no excuse, really, for messing it up. If the 2010 draft goes wrong, it can't be blamed on Jay Zygmunt, Scott Linehan or other ghosts at Rams Park.

    But this is tricky.

    Defensive tackle appeared to be a safe way to go. But is it, really? For a while, it looked like Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was the slam dunk, the no-brainer, the one sure thing. But some draft pundits and scouts are touting another defensive tackle, Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy, as the superior player. So what could have been the easy part of the equation go with the best bet, the defensive tackle isn't so simple.

    And then there's the quarterback position. The Rams really won't be able to establish a program until they establish a quarterback for the future. And let's be candid about this; drafting a QB would probably create a strong buzz and sell more tickets. And that would probably please the new owner. In the last two drafts, the Rams declined to pick Matt Ryan or Mark Sanchez. Will they overlook the position again? Or is that the smart move to go in another direction, considering the questions attached to the top quarterback prospects?

    Now that Oklahoma's Sam Bradford is showing that he's coming back strong from shoulder repairs, he's rising up the charts. Bradford is returning to the front of the line as a potential franchise quarterback. But other scouts prefer Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, who ran a pro-style offense. He's also a tough kid who battled valiantly through injuries and adversity last season. Clausen may possess more of those intangibles that coaches want in a leader.

    That's why there are trapdoors all over the place as the Rams search for No. 1. They could play it safe (DT) or take a calculated gamble (QB) and still come up with Mr. Wrong instead of Mr. Right.

    Or, the Rams could hit that jackpot and launch their comeback.

    Wednesday afternoon, I visited with Spagnuolo for about 90 minutes in his office at Rams Park. It was more of a social meeting. It wasn't an interview session. We didn't get into hardcore draft discussions. But for obvious reasons, the draft is on the coach's mind.

    Spagnuolo is watching tape. He's looked at two or three of Suh's games. He'll view more of them. And Spagnuolo was about to look at tapes of McCoy. Spagnuolo is beginning to learn more about some of the quarterbacks. And down the hall, Devaney and the scouts and the coaches are engaged in similar activity.

    This isn't to say that the Rams are definitely going to take a defensive tackle or a quarterback. They'll have a lot of options. It's early in the process. And free agency comes first; that's the immediate priority. But Devaney and Spagnuolo have a sense of what's on the line. It's an exciting time for them. And a nervous time, too.


  2. #2
    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie: Pressure Is On Rams In Having No. 1 Pick

    Is there one iota of information in this article that every Ram fan in the country doesn't already know? I'd have never guessed that Devaney, Spags and company are under pressure to get it right in the draft, nor did I think about the negative long term consequences for the organization if they whiff.

    Normally, I'm one of Bernie's bigger defenders on the board. But the only thing this article tells me is that he has a very firm grip on the obvious.

  3. #3
    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie: Pressure Is On Rams In Having No. 1 Pick

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    Is there one iota of information in this article that every Ram fan in the country doesn't already know? I'd have never guessed that Devaney, Spags and company are under pressure to get it right in the draft, nor did I think about the negative long term consequences for the organization if they whiff.

    Normally, I'm one of Bernie's bigger defenders on the board. But the only thing this article tells me is that he has a very firm grip on the obvious.
    And normally, I'm one of Bernie's biggest detractors on this board but I think that's one of the most nuanced pieces he's written about The Rams in a while. The choice isn't as clear as the "No one but Suh will do" contingent would have us believe.

    Still,I think he's being a little overly dramatic & narrow-minded about the effect one draft pick will have & failed to mention the most important part of the "big picture" that most fans also see. The thing that has slowed down the recovery of this team over the last couple of years, imo, has been the lack of impact from the middle of the draft. The Rams haven't solidified the base of this team with draft classes like Fletcher/Scott/Foster & Greco/King/Burton. Unlike the dark ages of the mid 2000s, it's been about injuries more than poor evaluation,imo, which gives me hope that a sudden leap in productivity is possible in the near future. If that happens, only the most superficial analysts/fans will point to the impact of one draftee as the reason.

    I think Bernie should also look to the future by properly proofing his column. Spelling Khan's name incorrectly (Shad?) is unlikely to get him the insider status/ access he so clearly craves. You'd think a guy named Miklasz who has probably had his name mispronounced & misspelled endlessly would be more cognizant of such subtleties.

  4. #4
    KoaKoi is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie: Pressure Is On Rams In Having No. 1 Pick

    ugh... Bernie dribble. this is me rolling my eyes yet again.

    although, could it be that BM took some prozac this week? i mean, where's the sarcasm and puffery. i see his usual "captain obvious" made an appearance, but i just can't shake the feeling like it was written by someone other than Bernie.

    maybe his new intern wrote it, perhaps?

    maybe Bernie got laid? could it be?!

  5. #5
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie: Pressure Is On Rams In Having No. 1 Pick

    Nothing like trying to turn the #1 pick in the draft into a negative!

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