The bolded part is very interesting to me. You read the first part and you think, okay, we're definitely leaning toward taking a DT. Then you read the second part and you have that mentality totally thrown out. Billy is extremely open and you can tell he speaks his mind. I like that he is upfront about everything and lays everything out in the open. This can be attributed to the fact that we are picking first so he has his pick of whoever he likes, but I like it as a fan that he doesn't leave us in the dark. This should be a very interesting 50+ days until April 22nd.Quote:
Originally Posted by Don BanksThe first round of the NFL draft is still almost eight weeks away, and already there is a drumbeat building the St. Louis Rams will eventually realize they have to take a quarterback like Oklahoma's Sam Bradford with the No. 1 pick because the value of that position at the top of the draft far outweighs the value at defensive tackle, and all other positions. The talents of Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy notwithstanding.
It's somewhat of a curiously timed argument to make, given that defensive tackles received three of the league's six franchise-player designations this week, with a fourth defensive tackle, Pittsburgh's Casey Hampton, being re-signed by the Steelers to avoid franchising him. Clearly someone in the NFL believes defensive tackles are pretty high up in the pecking order when it comes to positional value.
The man who has been thrust into the vortex of the quarterback-versus-defensive tackle debate in St. Louis, Rams general manager Billy Devaney, made his appearance in the NFL Scouting Combine media room Friday morning and got plenty of chances to explain his thinking on the positional value front. In general, Devaney said that quarterbacks rule, but there are exceptions to be made. Say for instance, the quarterback turns out to be Ryan Leaf, whom Devaney helped draft in San Diego in 1998, and the defensive tackle turns out to be Warren Sapp.
If only the Rams could see around that particular corner before they have to turn in their selection card on April 22.
"Maybe as a rule,'' said Devaney, when I asked him if it's tougher to make the case for taking a defensive tackle first overall. "But when you need players that you deem difference-makers, I don't think it makes any difference what position they play. We may be wrong, but we think these two kids [Suh and McCoy] that we're talking about are difference-makers and they impact the game. So them being defensive tackles doesn't bother us at all.''
Which is not the same as saying the Rams intend to pass on a quarterback like Bradford or even Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen to take Suh or McCoy. Devaney said the Rams have just begun their information gathering and have "a long way to go'' to reach a decision. Media speculation in recent days says St. Louis will end up with a quarterback atop the draft, but I'm just wondering how much that will change if the Rams make a trade for Michael Vick sometime next month? Or is that particular slice of media speculation no longer operative and I didn't get the memo? According to Devaney, the Rams haven't talked with the Eagles about Vick or any other Philly player.
It seems to me there are still plenty of moving parts remaining before the Rams are in position to make a final decision. There's the all-important medical clearances that have to be granted for Bradford (shoulder) and Clausen (toe), their pro day workouts, their private workouts, a possible trade or quarterback signing by St. Louis, and then the whole process of falling in or out of love with one of the four likely choices as the pre-draft scouting process intensifies.
"You can't force the issue,'' Devaney said. "At some point, we need to address the quarterback situation. If it gets down to we think the defensive tackles are far and away the highest-rated players in the draft, you can't force it and say, 'Hey, we've got to get a quarterback and drop way down on your value.' But that's what we're trying to figure out right now.''
All that said, you'd be foolish to throw any water on the idea that the QB-needy Rams will end up taking a quarterback, because who wins in the NFL without a viable option at that position? And no, we don't consider Marc Bulger returning for another year as the St. Louis starter to be viable. If St. Louis gets to the draft without adding any veteran quarterbacks who factor into the starting equation, the pressure to take Bradford or Clausen could grow exponentially. And Devaney knows it.
"Let's say the defensive tackles are graded 7.0 and the quarterback was 6.9,'' Devaney said in a later side session with a handful of reporters. "Is that close enough to take [the QB]? All things equal, you're going to take the quarterback. If [the QB grade is]a little bit lower, you probably go with the quarterback. But I know this, the two defensive tackles -- and we haven't put a final grade on the quarterbacks yet -- are way, way up there.
"The defensive tackles are difference-makers and we have them graded extremely high. But I have a feeling at the end of the day, the quarterbacks are going to be, if not right there, they're going to be within striking distance so that you have to think about taking them. Because of [the value issue].''
That sounds like quarterbacks rule to me, but again, it's a bit early to know for sure if the Rams have a passer or a pass-rusher on their brain. When you add in the element that Devaney and Co. pretty much have to nail this pick in order to ever get the chance to oversee another Rams draft, the intrigue level surrounding the No. 1 choice in St. Louis this spring should be sky high.
Maybe this won't be an uneventful draft season after all.