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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Rams face crucial choices with No. 1 pick

    BY BILL COATS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    04/16/2010

    Nearly two months have passed since general manager Billy Devaney disclosed that the Rams had narrowed their list of possible No. 1 overall draft picks to four players: Quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen, and defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh.

    For a while, Nebraska's Suh seemed to be the front-runner. But in recent weeks, Oklahoma's Bradford apparently has surged into the lead.

    "It's nice to have options," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said recently.

    With many Rams' fans divided on whether the team should select Bradford or Suh, two things are assured regardless of who is chosen:


    1) The team will acquire a highly valued commodity. "There's a number of players that are really worthy of being No. 1," Devaney said, "and you'd be happy with any of them."

    2) The Rams will be second-guessed, especially if their pick has a slow start. "You know whichever guy you take, the other two, three, four guys, they're going to go on to have great careers. Just the fact that you're considering taking them No. 1 tells you how well thought of they are," Devaney said. "You just have to make sure the guy you take plays well."

    Of course, the Rams aren't the first team to have a choice to make at the top of the draft. Here's a look at five drafts that ignited debates over the No. 1 pick and how they turned out:

    1971 QB Jim Plunkett vs. QB Archie Manning

    If Manning, a two-time All-American, had not suffered a broken arm during his senior season at Mississippi, he might have beaten out Stanford's Plunkett for the Heisman Trophy. New England took Plunkett with the first overall pick, and Manning went to New Orleans in the second spot.

    Their careers turned out markedly similar.

    Plunkett spent 15 seasons in the NFL, with three teams. He was 72-72 as a starter, throwing for 25,882 yards but completing just 52.5 percent of his passes and tossing more interceptions (198) than touchdowns (164).

    Manning put in 13 years, also with three teams. He was a two-time Pro Bowler who passed for 23,911 yards with a 55.2 percent completion rate. He, too, had more interceptions (173) than TDs (125). His first 10 seasons and part of an 11th were with the then-lowly Saints, and Manning's record as a starter was a woeful 35-101-3.

    1977 RB Ricky Bell vs. RB Tony Dorsett

    NFL talent scouts were drooling over the two backs, Bell from the football factory at Southern California and Dorsett from Pittsburgh, which was not regarded as a powerhouse. Most NFL teams leaned toward Dorsett, but Tampa Bay's John McKay a former USC coach wanted Bell.

    McKay should've gone with his brain, and not his heart, with the first overall selection.

    Bell lasted just six seasons in the NFL, rushing for 3,063 yards. He topped 1,000 yards just one time, getting 1,263 in 1979. He slipped to 599 in 1980 and was out of the league by '83. McKay was fired after the '84 season.

    Dallas Cowboys GM Tex Schramm traded up with Seattle to the No. 2 spot and was thrilled with his pick, declaring that Dorsett "is the (most) outstanding back to come out of college since maybe O.J. Simpson" in 1969.

    While Bell was receiving boos in Tampa, Dorsett was an immediate hit in Dallas. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first five seasons, and eight of his 11 seasons overall. A four-time Pro Bowler who ran for 12,739 career yards, Dorsett was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

    1981 RB George Rogers vs. LB Lawrence Taylor

    In a pre-draft poll of the NFL's 28 general managers, 26 said they would take North Carolina's Taylor over South Carolina's Rogers. Saints coach Bum Phillips defiantly pushed hard for Rogers.

    Why Rogers? "I'll give you a simple answer," Phillips said at the time. "George can run to the right side or to the left side. Lawrence is an outside linebacker. If you play him on the left side, you can run to the right side. And vice-versa. You run away from him."

    Unlike McKay, Phillips out-thought himself.

    The Giants snapped up Taylor with the second pick, the New York Daily News calling the Saints' ill-fated move "the gift of a lifetime."

    Not that Rogers failed to produce. He pounded out 1,674 yards and was voted to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, one of his two all-star seasons. But he was done after seven years.

    Taylor, conversely, terrorized offenses for 13 seasons, all with the Giants. He totaled 132 1/2 sacks, including a league-leading 20 1/2 in 1986. Taylor played in 10 Pro Bowls and entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

    1998 QB Peyton Manning vs. QB Ryan Leaf

    No example more dramatically demonstrates the boom-and-bust possibility that nags every NFL executive with a pick at the top of the draft.

    The debate over Tennessee's Manning and Washington State's Leaf raged for weeks leading up to draft day. Manning perhaps was more qualified at the time, but many scouts believed that Leaf had more potential.

    Leaf, taken No. 2 by San Diego ahead of such future stars as Charles Woodson, Randy Moss and Alan Faneca, wound up a recalcitrant washout after four NFL seasons that were plagued by injuries, bad play and poor relationships with his coaches and teammates.

    Manning, a 10-time Pro Bowl selection, is on pace to eclipse all the league's major passing records and almost surely will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Indianapolis has been to two Super Bowls, winning one championship, with Manning at the helm over the last 12 years.


    2006 DE Mario Williams vs. RB Reggie Bush

    North Carolina State's Williams became an instant villain after the Texans tapped him with the first overall pick over Bush, the glitzy Heisman Trophy winner from USC, as well as Texas quarterback Vince Young, a Houston native.

    "The unfortunate thing for Mario was he didn't pick himself; somebody else did," Charley Casserly, then the Texans' GM, told SI.com. "He had to take it all, and none of it was justified. It was not going to be a popular decision to take him. We knew that."

    The heat was dialed up even further when Williams slogged through a mediocre rookie season. Since then he has flourished, recording 35 sacks in the past three seasons and making two Pro Bowls.

    Bush is no bust: He has emerged as a valuable dual-threat back and dangerous return man for the Saints, the reigning Super Bowl champs.

    Still, no one can argue that Casserly didn't know what he was doing when he grabbed Williams at No. 1 overall.


  2. #2
    rNemesis's Avatar
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    Re: Rams face crucial choices with No. 1 pick

    It just goes to show you that whoever we pick with our first pick had BETTER produce right away!!!

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams face crucial choices with No. 1 pick

    Whoever it is, they're a bust if they're not an all-pro in their rookie year, says I!
    I believe!

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    Re: Rams face crucial choices with No. 1 pick

    Quote Originally Posted by TekeRam View Post
    Whoever it is, they're a bust if they're not an all-pro in their rookie year, says I!
    They are a total bust if they don't dominate both sides of the ball (24/25 with 20 TDs, and 800 yards rushing a game, plus 15 sacks and 9 picks per game)and kick 80+ yard field goals while being the only person to earn a hall of fame induction after one year and while they are still playing, says I!

    Maybe my standards are a little high though.

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