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St. Louis Rams' personnel focus turns from free agency to NFL draftBY Jim Thomas03/27/2009
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
DANA POINT, CALIF. — Over the next week or so, the Rams might sign a backup quarterback (Gus Frerotte), a blocking tight end (Billy Bajema) and a nickel back (Jason Craft). But unless some currently unforeseen opportunity presents itself in free agency, the Rams are pretty much through with the big purchases.
"I would say that's true," Rams general manager Billy Devaney said. "There could still be some moves in the next week or so, but like you said, it won't be a big splash now."
Now, the focus in what has been a hectic offseason at Rams Park turns squarely on the draft.
"We're probably 99 percent geared towards the draft right now," Devaney said. "We'll probably be back out here (in southern California) next week, you know, for the USC workout April 1."
But next Thursday, the scouts will converge on Rams Park for the final round of draft meetings. And they won't leave town until after the draft, on April 25-26.
"We are there," Devaney said.
The Rams, once again, will bring in up to 30 draft prospects for the so-called "top 30" visits in mid April.
"Instead of doing it all at one time, we're going to go 15 and 15 over two days," Devaney said. "The coaches can spend more time with the players."
At the NFC coaches breakfast Wednesday, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said he thought there were a number of good choices for the club with the No. 2 overall pick. When asked if the Rams had weeded down the number of candidates for that selection, Spagnuolo hedged.
"If we did, I wouldn't say it," he said, laughing. "We've still got a little ways to go here. And we're looking at everything. There is no number."
What Detroit does with the No. 1 pick could have an impact on what the Rams do. There have been reports the Lions have done some negotiating with potential picks, and that Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith — whom the Rams like — is one of them.
"I think you've got to keep an eyeball on (Detroit)," Spagnuolo said. "I'm not sure if you know what information you're getting. So we'll just be prepared ... to make a real smart decision."
It would be unrealistic to think that the Rams can address all of their needs in one draft. There are too many holes to fill: offensive tackle, wide receiver, middle linebacker, defensive tackle, backup running back and cornerback come to mind.
But at least the Rams scratched a few positions off their wish list by placing the franchise tag on free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe; re-signing cornerback Ron Bartell and guard-tackle Adam Golberg; and adding center Jason Brown (Baltimore), strong safety James Butler (New York Giants), and fullback Mike Karney (New Orleans) in free agency.
They all fit the profile that Devaney and Spagnuolo are shooting for: younger, ascending players.
"We just want to build this thing," Devaney said. "Do it the right way where it's not going to be the quick fix where we can sign a bunch of guys and maybe have a decent year this year but then we're in the same situation (next year). We'd rather build the thing right so it sustains. The moves we made, it was with that in mind. We're in for the long haul.."
Retaining Atogwe and Bartell were stated objectives by Devaney even before last season ended. Brown and Butler were targeted from the start of free agency. The availability of Karney, who was released by New Orleans after the start of the free agency period, was an unexpected surprise.
"We knew (fullback) was a need," Devaney said. "We had assumed that we were going to have to spend a draft pick. We had our draft meetings and there were a couple of guys that were really intriguing. But we were going to have to take them in the fifth round if not higher. So when Karney came about ... it just eliminated that need in the draft."
The initial contracts negotiated in free agency by Kevin Demoff, the Rams' executive vice president of football operations, also have revealed things about the team's overall personnel strategy. Demoff has avoided those long six- and seven-year deals. He has avoided "backloading" contracts with more money in the final years of the deal.
Thus the contracts give the Rams greater flexibility to get out of a deal if a player doesn't perform according to expectations.
"These guys still have to play," Devaney said. "We're pretty sure they're good players, but they still have to go out and play games."
My predictions for draft
After reading the quotes from Spags on building from the line up... I am predicting in the draft:
Re: St. Louis Rams' personnel focus turns from free agency to NFL draft
weve got rid of most of them now,far more than i was expecting in this off-season..but i do think that we should be pretty firm with players contracts and not give them longer than say 4 year contracts,no matter who they are!
look at Barron for example.. say he has a good year at LT,so we decide to renew his contract..we give him a 7 year deal and he reverts back to the Barron that has frustrated us for what seems like a decade even if it is has actually only been 4 years and weve now got him on a 7 year contract!
then theres Bulger...we pretty much all wanted the Rams to extent his contract a year or two ago but how many of us would want him cut now if it wasnt such a cap hit?? id say it would probably be roughly equal to the same number who wanted him re-signed!
Last edited by Ramblin` Ram; -03-27-2009 at 02:07 AM.
Re: My predictions for draft
also i know a few people do it on here and other sites,but i dont think its wise to pick positions to use draft picks on in particular rounds..better to just pick the B.P.A at a position of need..which with the Rams is still quite a lot.
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