Rams Surprised They Are Able To Pick Quinn
Rams surprised they are able to pick Quinn
BY JIM THOMAS
Friday, April 29, 2011
The Julio Jones Sweepstakes ended early. The Alabama wide receiver won't be leaping tall corners in a single bound at the Edward Jones Dome. He went No. 6 - to Atlanta, thanks to a massive trade-up by the Falcons.
But as the Quarterback Panic of 2011 widened, with Tennessee reaching for Jake Locker at No. 8 and Minnesota really reaching for Christian Ponder at No. 12, the picture suddenly brightened in the Rams' draft room.
As it turned out, the Rams had more choices than could be expected when it came time to make the No. 14 selection in the draft Thursday night. Included in that cluster of potential picks were three prime ones -- Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget and North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn.
The Rams liked Amukamara, who ended up going No. 19 to the New York Giants. They really liked Liuget, who went No. 18 to the San Diego Chargers.
As for Quinn, well, in the Rams' minds he was too good to pass. As such, Quinn became the first defensive player taken in the first round in coach Steve Spagnuolo's three-draft tenure in St. Louis.
"We certainly spent a lot of time evaluating Robert Quinn," Rams general manager Billy Devaney said. "As we got closer to the draft we thought it'd be great if he was there. We really didn't think there would be much of a chance for him to be there at 14."
But when he was, and even with the other players available who the Rams liked - Liuget and Amukamara - there wasn't much to discuss.
"It was kind of like (Rodger) Saffold last year," Devaney said, referring to the left tackle selected by the Rams in the second round then. "The grade we had on Quinn was significantly higher than the others in the pool. It was a really easy decision."
So no, Spagnuolo wasn't kidding earlier in the week when he talked about how much he likes pass rushers.
"I'd never lie to you," he joked with reporters. "I wouldn't start now."
According to Devaney, the Rams had calls from teams asking if the Rams wanted to trade up, and from a couple teams seeing if the Rams wanted to trade down. But St. Louis was content to stand pat.
"We had the guns ready just in case," Spagnuolo said.
Added Devaney: "When we got down to around (No.) 9 and 10, we said, ‘OK, if we start losing a couple guys, maybe we'll start making some calls. But as it turned out we weren't losing those (targeted) guys, so we knew we were going to be in good shape."
Dallas took an offensive tackle at No. 9, Southern California's Tyron Smith.
Jacksonville traded into the No. 10 spot held by Washington for Missouri (and Parkway West High School) quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Houston pulled a mild surprise by selecting Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt at 11. Watt is a 3-4 end and wouldn't have been a fit for the Rams' 4-3 scheme.
Minnesota made it four quarterbacks in the top 12 by taking Ponder. And then Detroit took Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, a player who really wasn't on the Rams' radar - probably because of maturity and attitude concerns.
Not that Quinn doesn't come with baggage of his own. As such he's the first player taken in the first or second round who didn't meet Spagnuolo's "Four Pillars" standard of faith, character, core values, and team-first approach. Quinn was ruled ineligible for the 2010 collegiate season for improper dealings with an agent. More precisely, he accepted illegal benefits in the form of jewelry and travel accommodations totaling more than $5,000.
"I made a selfish mistake and I paid - me and my team and my family and coaches - paid a price for it," Quinn said at the NFL scouting combine. "I truly apologized for it."
Spagnuolo was sold.
"All the research, everybody you talked to, it was out of character for him,'' Spagnuolo said. "I sat down with him - of course we talked about that. I felt very comfortable with the response. This is a kid who's from a great family with a great upbringing, been a quality guy. We all make mistakes. He made one. He knows. He's paid for it a little bit and I think he's ready to move on."
Quinn also has had a medical issue - a benign brain tumor.
"Obviously our doctors spent a lot of time researching and talking to experts and talking to people at Chapel Hill," Devaney said. "He never had any problems while he was at North Carolina."
Quinn told St. Louis reporters on a conference call Thursday night that he gets checked regularly and the checkups have shown no problems. The brain tumor was discovered while Quinn was in high school, cutting short his senior season. Surgery in 2007 showed that the tumor was benign.
"He's played with it," Devaney said. "Our doctors, and as we called around the league, the majority of teams were comfortable with his condition also."
Quinn, who's only 20, turned pro just three seasons removed from high school. As a true freshman, he started the final 12 games of the 2008 season, recording 34 tackles, 6˝ tackles for loss and two sacks. But he really blossomed as a sophomore in 2009, leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in tackles for loss (19) and recorded 11 sacks and 52 total tackles.
Re: Rams Surprised They Are Able To Pick Quinn
Welcome to the NFL STL RAMS Robert Quinn! Good, solid pick IMO.