By Bill Coats

When the Rams' scouts were sent on the road to begin preparation for the draft, they were given a stern directive. "We kept stressing to our evaluators that we want smart, passionate and productive players," said Billy Devaney, vice president of player personnel.

In other words, character was more of a priority than ever before.

"The whole game plan is to really add quality players, but they have to fit our profile or they don't make the grade," coach Scott Linehan said.

Devaney pointed out that the Rams removed a number of players from their draft board because of concerns. "We've had sort of a zero-tolerance policy, regardless of the level of ability. High-round guys, late-round guys, free agents ... we aren't compromising on that," he said.

Said Linehan: "The off-the-field stuff has got to be a determining factor. We need a lot of things, but one of the biggest things we needed is this infusion of attitude and positive people around this building."


Penn State cornerback Justin King, a fourth-round pick, appears to fit the bill well. He was a Dean's List student who earned his degree in just three years.

Still, King, 20, called leaving college a year early "a tough decision. I love Penn State. There were a few ways I felt I needed to continue to grow as a person, and I look forward to playing. That's what really pushed my decision."


At 6-feet-4 and 326 pounds, tackle John Greco, a third-round selection out of Toledo, obviously has a yen for food. He knows his way around a kitchen, too. "I love cooking Italian food, chicken, a lot of fish, and grilling steaks," he said. "But being a lineman, really any kind of food."


Devaney said he expected to sign only a few undrafted rookies because of the number of players the team already has under contract. "There are a couple of positions we've earmarked where we need some guys to come in," he said. "But for the most part, there aren't going to be very many; maybe six or seven, eight at the most." The process began Sunday night when fullback Brandon McAnderson of Kansas agreed to terms.


Western Illinois University in Macomb has been eliminated as a potential training camp site, leaving Concordia University in Mequon, Wis., and Wisconsin-Whitewater as the finalists. A decision is expected this week. ... Only one spring minicamp is scheduled, May 9-11 at Rams Park.