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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Devaney, Scouting Staff Ready For Phase Two

    Devaney, Scouting Staff Ready for Phase Two
    Friday, December 18, 2009


    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Less than 24 hours after he was named Rams General Manager on Christmas Eve of last year, Billy Devaney found himself asking for some divine intervention.

    Armed with the arduous task of rebuilding the Rams by bringing in a new coaching staff, starting a roster makeover and generally changing the complexion of the Russell Training Center, Devaney knew he would need some help from somewhere.

    So it was that on Christmas morning, Devaney went for his usual run, a course he has mapped out that he regularly runs near his home. Along his normal path, Devaney encountered one of the priests at Our Lady of the Pillar church in Ladue, the church where Devaney and his family had attended mass only hours before.

    Stopping to chat, Devaney made it a point to ask the priest for a little help in his new endeavor.

    “I said ‘Hey, I have got a favor to ask. I just got this job with the Rams, I need a lot of help, can you keep me in your prayers?’” Devaney said, laughing at the memory. “He said ‘Yeah, I saw that, that’s you, huh?’ I said ‘This is a big one, man. You have got to keep me in your prayers.’”

    Less than a week from today, Devaney will have hit the one-year mark as the top decision maker in the Rams hierarchy but there’s no doubting that year two will come with less stress than the first one.

    It would almost have to.

    THE PROCESS

    Building a football team doesn’t happen overnight. And though it’s become popular to believe that a major turnaround can happen in a single year, that’s really more of a myth than anything.

    While a team’s record can certainly dramatically improve in a single year, it takes years of building something with commitment and continuity to get it right.

    Soon after taking the job, Devaney went on a whirlwind tour along with the rest of his staff that included the hiring of a new coaching staff, evaluating current Rams to make decisions on their future with the team, scouring the free agent market, scouting college players, signing free agents and going through the 2009 NFL Draft.

    It was a hectic time for Devaney but it also could someday be looked at as a turning point for the franchise.

    Having that year to get the scouting staff he wants in place, form a pro personnel department and get everyone on the same page should make attacking the 2010 offseason an easy transition.

    “That’s one of the many advantages is stability and that is what we are trying to establish,” Devaney said. “I think going into this year, we’ll be light years ahead of where we were last year. We haven’t changed the structure at all. These guys are veteran guys so it was an easy transition for them. It’s an easy system to adapt to. It’s been seamless. It’s been a piece of cake.”

    Just this week, the entire Rams scouting staff has converged upon St. Louis to begin putting together all of the scouting work it has already done this season. Specific players aren’t really discussed so much as the information being brought in is being pieced together.

    In the Rams’ system, scouts are assigned an “area” to work in. For instance, one scout might handle all of the players on the west coast. After that scout looks at a guy, he will trade places with a scout from a different area so they can get two sets of eyes on a player.

    When that is done, the Rams send in one of their national scouts, Director of Player Personnel Lawrence McCutcheon or Vice President of Player Personnel Tony Softli. McCutcheon and Softli give the Rams a third set of trained eyes so they can have more opinions on a player.

    Each of those three guys going to see a player will pay what Devaney calls a “visit.” On the visit, the scout will spend a good chunk of time watching tape of a player. He will also speak to people close to the player like his position coach, the strength coach, academic advisors, really anyone that has a handle on how the player operates on and off the field.

    Then, most important, the scout will watch a player practice to not only get a feel for how talented the player might be but also to see things like interaction with teammates and practice habits.

    “We want three what we call visits,” Devaney said. “We want to see a guy live. You have got to do your research, you have got to talk to the coaches, you have to do the background stuff. You can’t do that going to a game. You can see a guy play live physically but you don’t get all those other questions answered so we need three real visits.”

    Upon returning to St. Louis, the scouting staff gets together and begins piecing together its evaluations. The Rams grade players on everything from character to medical history to toughness to what is known as football character (practice habits, love of the game, etc.) to how they project into the schemes the Rams coaching staff has in place.

    If a guy has multiple red flags on him already, he will quickly be dispatched into the do not draft box. For those that remain in play, the staff will determine what else needs to be evaluated further as the draft season approaches and form lists of interviews for guys who the team wants to spend more time with.

    In addition, the tape of juniors who have declared and might declare is also starting to be churned.

    In some ways, it’s like a puzzle where the information gleaned from the three visits is put together and then you figure out what pieces need to be put in place before it’s complete.

    THE PRO SIDE

    Of course, the college scouts aren’t the only ones gearing up for the offseason. One of Devaney’s first priorities when getting the job was the formation of a true pro personnel department. So he hired Mike Williams to be the Director of Pro Personnel and added Ray Agnew and Brandon Schwab to help Williams out.

    At this time of year, that group has already nailed down free agency and has a general idea of who might come available and which players will be targets. Free agency doesn’t begin until March but that type of planning is necessary considering the scenarios that could play out in regard to the collective bargaining agreement.

    “We already have some guys kind of earmarked but it wouldn’t shock us if any of those guys don’t make it to free agency,” Devaney said. “And what you don’t want to do is almost like the draft say we need help at this position and this is the guy we want and if we don’t get this guy, this is the guy we want. Now what are we going to do? If the next guy is rated so far below, you can’t go crazy and say we need to do whatever we have to do to get him. If it’s not a good player, it’s a bad investment. You have to say, we didn’t get it there so we have to get it in the draft.”

    Williams and Co. have the type of job that never really ends, though. Throughout the year, it’s that group that is constantly looking at and evaluating players that hit the waiver wire or guys that are on other practices squads.

    It’s that part of the operation that has allowed the Rams to unearth guys who have contributed this year like Danny Amendola or encouraged Devaney to trade for Brandon Gibson.

    “For the most part, the guys we have brought in are mostly on the pro scouts sitting on those and digging and watching the waiver wire,” Devaney said.

    THE DRAFT SIDE

    From the moment Devaney was named General Manager, he made it clear how he wanted to rebuild the Rams. Like the most successful teams in the league, Devaney wasn’t looking for an overnight quick fix that could come by signing a bunch of veteran players.

    While those types of guys might win an extra game or two, they wouldn’t help the Rams become the type of team that can sustain success for a long period of time.

    That’s why the top emphasis for the Rams is placed on the NFL Draft.

    “We are putting this thing together through the draft,” Devaney said. “That is by far the most important way to build this thing.”

    Devaney says putting it together that way seems fine in theory but it wouldn’t be possible without the full support of owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez.

    At last year’s NFL Draft, Devaney received a call about a trade down offer. The team making the offer clearly shorted the Rams in terms of compensation but made the case that the team could save up to $30 million by taking the deal.

    Before Devaney could even respond, Rosenbloom stepped in and told him to hang up the phone and not even acknowledge the ridiculous offer.

    “They said ‘Do it the right way then. If that’s the right way to do it, we will support you,’” Devaney said. “The way they went about saying we trust in you guys and whatever you think is best for the football team for this year and in the future, you have our support. So we haven’t wanted for anything during the course of the year.”

    Not much has changed for the Rams in terms of how they approach the draft. They will again have a high pick this year and have already begun the process of winnowing the field.

    And, as Devaney says, everything will remain on the table in terms of the team’s openness to trading down or using the pick they have regardless of outside factors.

    In terms of actual drafting philosophy, nothing has changed. The Rams will not pigeonhole themselves into anything based on a need pick.

    Players are graded on a scale with an 8.0 being a perfect score (which almost never happens), a 7.0 being a possible Pro Bowl player, a 6.0 being a solid starter, etc.

    Ideally, the Rams would have need players clumped together near, say a 7.0 score, that they could choose from. In that case, if the difference is a tenth of a point between a guy at a position of need and one that isn’t then the team can opt for the guy who plays the more needed position.

    Ultimately, though, the Rams won’t reach for any position if one player is significantly rated higher than the other.

    “You can’t drop down at that point no matter what your needs are,” Devaney said. “You might have a couple of need players down there but the value of that guy is so great you have to take that guy at that point.”

    One area that has changed a little this year is a newfound willingness to perhaps take a little more of a gamble on a guy who might have had some character questions if he makes up for it in talent.

    That shift comes from the past couple of years of building a solid locker room in which there is the type of leadership and stability to provide a positive environment.

    “I think we are at the point now where we can probably take a chance on a guy that we couldn’t afford to take a chance on a year or two ago because the supporting cast is so strong,” Devaney said. “I’m not saying that a guy that has flunked three drug tests or has been arrested multiple times, there is not going to be any room for them. But if a guy made a mistake his freshman year and he’s been fine and been clean since then, I think we can look at that differently this year than we have in the past.”

    THE RIGHT PATH

    At the conclusion of the Rams’ Oct. 25 game against Indianapolis, Colts President Bill Polian, one of the best team architects in league history, made it a point to grab Devaney by the arm and share a message.

    Not one known for his bluster, Polian’s words meant something to Devaney.

    “He said ‘Hey, don’t listen to anybody because you guys are doing it the right way. We looked at tape all week long and you guys are doing it the right way. Stay the course,’” Devaney said.

    In just one year, Devaney believes the Rams have upgraded their talent to the point where at least in this coming offseason they won’t have a list of needs a mile long.

    The offensive line was the top priority last season and with the addition of Jason Smith and Jason Brown, it appears that area is well on its way to being a foundation for the offense.

    That isn’t to say that Devaney believes there aren’t needs. Of course, he knows better than anyone that there are still plenty of improvements that need to be made.

    Devaney already has in mind what some of the needs are but wants to speak with the coaching staff after the season to get their ideas on where tweaking needs to occur.

    If nothing else, when Devaney goes for his run on Christmas Day this year, he can take solace in the fact that progress has been made and his task, though still extremely difficult, is at least a little less daunting.

    When it was suggested to Devaney that maybe the prayers didn’t do enough for him this year, he could only laugh and joke about perhaps changing his faith.

    “Forget changing the route, I might change religions and become Buddhist or something,” Devaney said, laughing. “If that’s what it takes, I will do it.”

    Obviously, Devaney was joking about changing religions and he has no plans on altering his running route.

    After all, Devaney and the rest of the Rams are always staying the course.


  2. #2
    gap's Avatar
    gap
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    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    It is good to see Ray Agnew's name, and to know he is still with the RAMS.

    This is an encouraging article to read, and I hope that this off season provides more progress than last off season.


    gap

  3. #3
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    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    I have faith in Billy D, but plz no 5'10" DBs.

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    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    I have only one question for Billy D. How do I become an NFL or college scout?

  5. #5
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    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    This is probably the most encouraging Rams article I have read in a while. Helps to remind us that while this year may have been a disaster, we are headed on the right course over the long haul. Devaney getting props from Bill Polian is about as big a compliment you can get.

  6. #6
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    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    Great article. Very encouraging for next year. It's nice to read more about the offseason side of the Rams.

    And here's hoping that Polian is right about our squad and how we're doing things.

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    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    At last year’s NFL Draft, Devaney received a call about a trade down offer. The team making the offer clearly shorted the Rams in terms of compensation but made the case that the team could save up to $30 million by taking the deal.

    Before Devaney could even respond, Rosenbloom stepped in and told him to hang up the phone and not even acknowledge the ridiculous offer.
    Don't those other teams read our message boards. They're suppose to offer blah blah blah. This is ridiculous. And shouldn't they be waiting our call to let them know what they're giving us to get our pick. How dare them. This isn't how things are suppose to work!
    Semper Fi!

  8. #8
    TheRammer Guest

    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    Very good thread... I love the part where Chip stepped in and told him to hang up the phone with that riddiculous offer...

  9. #9
    TheRammer Guest

    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Devaney, Scouting Staff Ready for Phase Two
    Friday, December 18, 2009


    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer



    One area that has changed a little this year is a newfound willingness to perhaps take a little more of a gamble on a guy who might have had some character questions if he makes up for it in talent.

    That shift comes from the past couple of years of building a solid locker room in which there is the type of leadership and stability to provide a positive environment.

    “I think we are at the point now where we can probably take a chance on a guy that we couldn’t afford to take a chance on a year or two ago because the supporting cast is so strong,” Devaney said. “I’m not saying that a guy that has flunked three drug tests or has been arrested multiple times, there is not going to be any room for them. But if a guy made a mistake his freshman year and he’s been fine and been clean since then, I think we can look at that differently this year than we have in the past.”
    Mark my words, you heard it hear first...Devaney's 4 pillars is going to changed to 3 and a half pillars and Mike Vick will have a better than average chance to find a home in St. Louis next season whether you like this or not as a bridge player for our future....

  10. #10
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    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    Quote Originally Posted by TheRammer View Post
    Mark my words, you heard it hear first...Devaney's 4 pillars is going to changed to 3 and a half pillars and Mike Vick will have a better than average chance to find a home in St. Louis next season whether you like this or not as a bridge player for our future....
    A bridge player to our future or mediocracy?

    Overrated, overpriced, and past his prime, how does that benefit our future?

    I'm not quit sure that dog-killers with criminal records are the types of players Devaney was speaking of when he said they might look at other guys they typically wouldn't ...

  11. #11
    TheRammer Guest

    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsInfiniti View Post
    A bridge player to our future or mediocracy?

    Overrated, overpriced, and past his prime, how does that benefit our future?

    I'm not quit sure that dog-killers with criminal records are the types of players Devaney was speaking of when he said they might look at other guys they typically wouldn't...

    /listen to some Rams radio

  12. #12
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    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    Quote Originally Posted by TheRammer View Post
    /listen to some Rams radio
    You mean the statements where Devaney said they would evaluate all players after the season, pretty vague stuff ...

    Or you mean the statement where Devaney said that they might overlook some things on players in the draft, like "if they had an incident in their freshman year" ...

    You guys need to get off Vick's jock. He's never been an average quarterback, never will be ....

    He's the answer for a potential playoff franchise needing a spark. We need a QB with a little higher IQ to run our WCO here ...

  13. #13
    TheRammer Guest

    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsInfiniti View Post
    You mean the statements where Devaney said they would evaluate all players after the season, pretty vague stuff ...

    Or you mean the statement where Devaney said that they might overlook some things on players in the draft, like "if they had an incident in their freshman year" ...

    You guys need to get off Vick's jock. He's never been an average quarterback, never will be ....

    He's the answer for a potential playoff franchise needing a spark. We need a QB with a little higher IQ to run our WCO here ...
    Watch and see they will at least consider him and i'm not saying he will 100% play for the Rams or saying he should and is the best QB ever but the possibility is increasingly likely...

    You need to get back in bed and roll out the other side because your posts today are just crap and attacking any and everybody...

  14. #14
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    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Raedy For Phase Two

    Quote Originally Posted by TheRammer View Post
    Watch and see they will at least consider him and i'm not saying he will 100% play for the Rams or saying he should and is the best QB ever but the possibility is increasingly likely...

    You need to get back in bed and roll out the other side because your posts today are just crap and attacking any and everybody...
    My posting style is the same each and every day ...

    Just somedays there is more "crap" than usual to respond to ...

    Unfortunately, once somebody gets on my "crap" list, they stay there ...

    In particular, I don't do play well with those that root for the Rams to lose, and you fall into that category ...

    Enough said ...

  15. #15
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    Re: Devaney, Scouting Staff Ready For Phase Two

    More self serving drivel from the Rams marketing department known as Nick W. Pleaaaase.

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